Quenching Water Podcasts

Posted in: Inspiration | 0

Before podcasts I’m unsure how I kept my mind occupied while doing the dishes, driving long distances, or folding my laundry. If you’re like me, you have SO many podcasts on Apple or Spotify ‘favorited’ to listen to at some later date. If you’re new to podcasts, they are audio recordings of people chatting about topics such as current events, sports, food and anything you can really imagine. They can be historical, educational, or heavily opinionated, but best of all, they are free for the world to access and consume. They are kind of like radio, but now you can actually change the channel if you don’t want to listen to the same 20 songs over and over again. 

 

Since starting my position at the North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper, I naturally combined my love of podcasts and passion for swimmable, drinkable and fishable water, and delved into water podcasts. I was delighted to find so many, such as discussions on water sustainability and water law, as well as interviews with influential water conservation actors. I’d like to share a few of my favorites with you today in no particular order! I hope you check them out whether you’re a seasoned activist of water issues or just starting to look into accessible water for all.

 

Science Vs. Plastics: the Final Straw (32 min)

There’s a good chance you have already seen the shocking video of the straw being pulled from the turtle’s nose, and in this podcast we hear from the researcher who took the video. But this podcast is not just discussing plastics straws (as they are only 4% of the waste found in water bodies), it also touches on the other 96% of plastic products and how they get from our homes to the ocean. In the podcast we learn that microplastics come off plastic material after *just* a few weeks in the water, how microplastics affect wildlife negatively, and some steps on how we can start thinking about reducing plastics in our own lives. 

 

Water Dialogues by Lindsay Day (MSc Student) (all three episodes: 51 min)

This collaborative podcast was probably the most insightful episode that I listened to. I feel it began to bridge my knowledge gap in understanding that water is more than just essential for drinking and daily tasks, and that discussions surrounding water don’t stop at water management practices and infrastructure. From this podcast, I am shown that water is and can by more symbolic in nature and aligned with a way of being, with interconnected ideas and multiple identities. This podcast is a part of a larger project funded by the Canadian Water Network, looking at methods and models on integrative Indigenous and Western knowledge to inform water management and research in Canada. This project was based on recordings from national water gathering event that brought together First Nations, Inuit, Metis, and other Canadian water researchers, to have conversations on knowledge systems connected to water and address the critical water issues we face today in Canada as a result of colonization. 

 

Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness: Who is Enforcing the Clean Water Act (40 min)

In this series, Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye hosts a podcast where he engages individuals who are stars in their fields to learn more about their world. In this episode we hear from the Waterkeeper president, Robert F. Kennedy Jr, and his interesting history on catching water polluters, and pollution stories in American cities. He discusses key American policies that ensure water safety for the people, and addresses how the clean water crisis directly affects marginalized populations. He calls for citizens of all nations to understand that environmental responsibility and economic prosperity do go hand in hand, and are not a trade-off as politicians may make it seem. 

 

Stuff You Should Know: How Watersheds Work (31 min)

This series discusses random topics that the hosts, Josh and Chuck, feel the public should know about and breaks down the topics into easily understandable chunks. This episode explains how watersheds work, why they are a valuable entity, and why it is important to consider how waste within your watershed can pollute the ocean. I enjoyed this podcast for the silly jargon between Josh and Chuck which keeps the listener engaged, and how their analogies help to break down complex scientific concepts.

 

The Water Values Podcast: How the Internet of Things Affects (and Will Affect) the Water Sector with Geoff Engelstein (44 min)

In this podcast, using accessible language, Geoff explains how the Internet of things (IOT) will affect the development of water technology within the public and private water utility sectors. In essence, he describes how one day we’ll potentially have an app to turn our water on and off, even if we were on our way to a month-long vacation. He also shares how some cities already have a computer room controlling all the water sprinklers in their city. Towards the end of the podcast there is a more technical discussion that provides insight on how a producer can get involved in the water industry using the IOT. This podcast was insightful for a beginner like me, trying to grasp the connection between emerging technology and water management practices. 

 

60 Second Science: You Contain Multitudes of Microplastics (2 min)

In this series put on by the Scientific American, current research is highlighted in short  segments that are less than five minutes to give you the most up-to-date science in an accessible way. A researcher from the University of Victoria speaks in this episode about how individuals may consume between 74,000 and 121,000 microplastics a year (and they share shockingly that this may be a gross underestimate). 

 

Let there be Water: #3 Pat Mulroy (16 min)

This new podcast is aimed at interviewing key players in the world of water to grab their insights about water practices. In this episode we hear from Pat, who is the retired General Manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority and how she established clean and reliable water to the city of Las Vegas (which is located in the middle of a desert) within a pressure-filled timeline. I enjoyed this episode for her no-nonsense statements and her stance that water security for all is not a competition, but instead requires community collaboration regionally and locally.

 

Nature Talks – The Nature Conservancy of Canada: Nature, The Engineer (18 min) 

In this series put on by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, we hear a story from residents of Riverside-Albert, a community on the East Coast. The community signed a land lease protecting their water source and historic acadian forest one hundred years ago, and now the lease is up. This podcast covers the community banding together to raise money to buy back the forest and their water source that flows through it from a private landowner. I enjoy this podcast’s emphasis on nature as the superior water engineer, as the acadian forests roots filters the clean water the community receives naturally without human systems! 

 

Words on Water #94: Lori Weigel on Public Opinion on Infrastructure, Affordability and Reuse (25 min)

This podcast series discusses diverse water issues as they talk to water actors all over the US, discussing a variety of policy, opinion, and law. In this podcast we hear from Lori Weigel, the Principal at New Bridge Strategy which is an opinion research company. She discusses the results of an annual US poll looking at citizens perception of their water as clean, and whether there should be investment in water infrastructure. This podcast is interesting to me as they find that 85% of US citizens think water should be invested in, a belief that spans all demographics such as age, race, income level and political party. Other topics discussed include the affordability of water in the US, and public opinions on recycled water being used as drinking water.

 

I hope while you’re washing your dishes or throwing another load of clothes in the laundry, you listen to some of these podcasts and consider your water use and the water issues you wish to know more about. I highly encourage you to explore more of the podcasts within the series I shared above, to get inspired on how people within and outside the water industry are taking a stance for swimmable, drinkable, and fishable water for all. As always, feel free to share my podcast recommendations with friends and family, so we can keep the discussion on clean accessible water for all, flowing! 

 

Sources:

https://gimletmedia.com/shows/science-vs/94hwzr

https://player.fm/series/60-second-science-1455705/you-contain-multitudes-of-microplastics

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/who-is-enforcing-the-clean-water-act-with-bobby-kennedy-jr/id1068563276?i=1000433549852

http://waterdialogues.ca/

http://cwn-rce.ca/project/examining-methods-and-models-for-integrative-indigenous-and-western-knowledge-to-inform-water-management-and-research-in-canada/

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/dave-mcgimpsey/the-water-values-podcast/e/55364257

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-3-pat-mulroy/id1041097813?i=1000360942967

https://www.stuffyoushouldknow.com/podcasts/watersheds.htm

https://wordsonwaterwef.com/2019/06/24/words-on-water-94-lori-weigel-on-public-opinion-on-infrastructure-affordability-and-reuse/

http://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/who-we-are/podcasts/episode-three-nature-the-engineer.html

Image creds: Reynier Carl on Unsplash

Sustainability: Water Edition

All the buzz right now about sustainability is great, but if you’re like me, it can be challenging to understand what sustainability really means and how to achieve it. Therefore, in this article I try to break down this common buzzword into bite-size chunks, focusing on water sustainability in Canada, and in our everyday lives. 

 

According to the Cambridge English dictionary, the word sustainability means: the quality of causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore (the practice is) able to continue for a long time. Within a subsection of this definition specific to natural resources and the environment, sustainability is defined as: the idea that goods and services should be produced in ways that do not use resources that cannot be replaced and that do not damage the environment. This definition is more applicable to practices that we hear people talking about, such as bringing their own food containers to avoid using single-use plastic, and choosing public transit over personal transportation to reduce carbon emissions. Overall, I think sustainability for the individual is being conscious of the steps we take today, and working to uphold a future we wish to have for the Earth tomorrow. This is especially important when thinking about the sustainability of water, as it is an essential resource for all life.

 

Natural resources are materials or substances that are found in nature, and can be used for economic gain. Water is the world’s most abundant natural resource, with other natural resources including soil, oil, natural gas and wind. Even though water is the largest natural resource on Earth, with water covering 70% of the earth’s surface, only 3% of water available is freshwater. Of that 3%, only 1/3 is readily available for use, the other ⅔ is locked away in glaciers and icecaps. Freshwater sources that are available to us can be surface waters (such as rivers, lakes, springs), atmospheric water and groundwater. This freshwater is what we use in everyday activities such as cleaning, bathing, watering our plants and cooking. There has been the same amount of freshwater on earth since the dinosaurs, but as a result of the human population expanding, the world water demand has increased. With increased demand and the same resource supply, the competition for clean water to sustain all aspects of life intensifies. A question you’re probably wondering: Why don’t we just desalinate the salty water if 97% of the water on earth is salty? And though that’s very innovative thinking, very high energy and advanced technology is required  to remove salt from water, and therefore this method is relatively inaccessible as a freshwater replenishment strategy. 

 

Canada is lucky to have around 20% of the world’s freshwater, but of which only 7% is renewable. Renewable resources are replenished naturally over time, where nonrenewable resources, like coal and oil have limited amounts available on Earth. Even with an abundance of freshwater in our country, there is still inequality in water access with some communities having limited or no access to safe drinking water. This is especially true for remote communities and Indigenous peoples in Canada, who are disproportionately affected by the water inequality crisis as a result of poor resource planning and/or infrastructure. Another question you may have, is why do Indigenous peoples have poor resource planning, or water infrastructure? Following colonization, Indigenous peoples were taken from their traditional lands and placed on federal land reserves where all the infrastructure, including water, is the responsibility of the federal government. On these reserves there is no legislation – as there is in the provinces – governing drinking water standards and accessibility (2005 Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development report).

 

Now that we understand what sustainability means, and know some freshwater facts about Canada, I share some actionable steps you and I can take everyday to ensure water sustainability for our collective future. Many of the recommendations I list below are based on that in Canada, many of us have unlimited, uncontrolled access to clean water. As a result of this, it is important as global citizens to consider how best we should manage this privilege, and how we should encourage others to manage it as well. 

 

Some small things you can start doing today:

  • Skip the bottled water. The water quality testing for tap water from your municipality is often tested at a higher quality threshold than bottled water, therefore there is no reason to be seeking out bottled water as a ‘cleaner’ water. The plastic bottles each actually uses one litre of water to make, and also create unnecessary waste that often contribute to the microplastics found in Canadian water bodies today. (On that note: skip plastics when you can and try to bring reusable containers to limit the plastic waste you make in general. Check out Plastic Free July to commit.)
  • Consider what is necessary + change daily practices. Do you have automatic lawn watering, let the tap run while you brush your teeth, have super long showers, have a leaky faucet you haven’t got around to fixing, or do you wash laundry with only two items? Think about the unnecessary ways you and your community use water, and change your ways today. Our growing population is putting an unnecessary demand on the limited water resources of the world, and many of us are so lucky to have unlimited access to it so our responsibility to be sure we’re not wasting a precious resource.
  • Some thoughts for homeowners. 
    • Consider investing in high efficiency machines that use water sustainably, not only will you reduce greenhouse emissions, but you will also save money on your utility bills! The City of Edmonton even has a bylaw for the promotion of the use of high efficiency fixtures.
    • Think about using a rain barrel to catch rainwater, for watering your plants or lawn rather than using freshwater from the tap or hose. 
    • Consider low-impact development (LID) for your garden, a great example from EPCOR is a rain garden.  If LID is not for you, consider eco-landscaping, which is a design technique for your yard to use water efficiently, involving selective planting to reduce water use.
  • Think about the river (or other waterbody). Think about what you flush down the toilet, and consider if it may have harmful effects. Check out the City of Edmonton’s “ways to keep the river healthy”, such as how to wash your car and dispose of chemicals while being mindful of the river.
  • Support water sustainability initiatives. Another key step as a global citizen is engaging water sustainability in your communities, and seeking out like-minded individuals can be very motivating. Some Edmonton-specific examples include the Master Composter Recycler program, Waste Free Edmonton, Northern Climate and Stewardship and Sustainability Society and Climate Justice Edmonton.  

 

I hope this article drew you to consider how you use water every day, to learn some new water sustainability practices, and to think about how you can include them in everyday life. I encourage you to share this article with friends and family to continue the conversation on water sustainability in your community, and to ensure the future entails water that is swimmable, fishable and drinkable. We should not take the clean water accessibility we have for granted, and should work for change on a global level, so all can have access to clean safe water. 

 

Sources:

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/sustainability

https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/environmental_stewardship/water.aspx

https://globalnews.ca/news/3016754/this-is-how-much-water-canadians-waste/

https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/microplastics-in-edmonton-waterways-macewan-team-studies-plastic-pollution

https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/initiatives_innovation/river-for-life.aspx

https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/environmental_stewardship/water.aspx

https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/earth-sciences/geography/atlas-canada/selected-thematic-maps/16888

https://www.edmonton.ca/residential_neighbourhoods/gardens_lawns_trees/eco-landscaping.aspx

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-dont-we-get-our-drinking-water-from-the-ocean/

http://psac-ncr.com/aboriginal-persons-water-crisis

http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/docs/c20050905ce.pdf

Image by Alain Audet from Pixabay

Enjoy September on these 5 Alberta Waterbodies!

September is the perfect month to get outside and get to the water. While it may be getting a bit more chilly, now you can dig your favourite sweater and toque out from storage, bundle up, and face the great outdoors. Spending time outside is proven to be great for social, physical, and mental health. This is particularly important as the school year starts up. Getting to the water is the perfect opportunity to gather with friends and family, it can improve your mood, it gets you moving, it calms the mind, and it’s just plain fun! There’s no snow on the ground. The lakes have not frozen. Now is the time to get outside!

 

Alberta is feeling the chill of seasonal change approaching, but summer is far from over. September is a prime time to get outside and take advantage of the many lovely walking and biking paths, the perfect water for paddling, and maybe even brave the cold water for a dip. While the City of Edmonton might not be moving forward with constructing a permanent beach along the North Saskatchewan River, that does not mean that Edmontonians cannot get out to the water. There are 22 major parks along the river, forming the largest expanse of urban parkland in North America, and an abundance of space for activities. For ideas of beaches to visit in one of the sunniest provinces, here are a few of the most popular beaches in Alberta. For more ideas, check the Swim Guide or read on.

 

File:Elk Island National Park Sunset.jpg 

Elk Island National Park

 

Elk Island National Park is located a quick 30 minutes away from Edmonton. If you like hiking, paddling, or seeing wildlife, this is a trip you might want to take this September. You can pack a picnic while gazing out on Astotin Lake, and if you have young ones with you (or the young at heart), build some sandcastles on the beach. There are also 11 hiking trails of various difficulties to immerse yourself in the fresh air. If paddling is more your scene, on the weekends you can rent a canoe, kayak, or stand up paddleboard; if you have your own boat, bring it along for some quality time out on the water. Elk Island is also home to many different creatures of all different shapes and sizes, including bison, elk, beavers, and the tiny boreal chorus frog. You will have to keep your eyes and ears open to witness some of these amazing creatures.

 

Wabamun Lake Provincial Park

 

Is it possible to go swimming in September? Absolutely! The Wabamun Lake Provincial Park Beach is another quick trip from Edmonton for a day full of activities. The beach has plenty of space to play in and out of the water. If you prefer birdwatching, you may be able to spot herons, bald eagles, hooded mergansers, and more. It’s also a great location for fishing, many anglers rave about the pike and walleye in Wabamun Lake.

 

File:MalignelakeSpiritisland.JPG

Maligne Lake

 

For a Rocky Mountain Adventure, why not trek to Maligne Lake. There are many lakes and rivers to choose to visit in Jasper National Park, so why not visit the largest? The 22km long lake is a fantastic spot to go paddling or for an epic hike. They have easy and difficult trails to take you to the tops of mountains. There are a variety of campsites at the lake, as well as many other sites around Jasper. There are a variety of activities that are still available in the surrounding area including horseback riding, mountain biking, paddling, fishing, and even traction kiting.

 

Mill Creek Ravine

 

Flowing right through Edmonton, the Mill Creek Ravine is a stunning location for a hike, for mountain biking, or for a dog walk. It’s a popular site for dog owners since there is an off leash dog park. But there are also sites for picnicking, so bring a snack to enjoy the beauty of the creek. The paved trails are accompanied by bridges to cross over the water with ease. This is a great location to escape from the hustle and bustle while still being located right in the city.

 

Accidental Beach

 

While it may not be the most accessible of beaches, the sand has returned once again this year. This year Accidental Beach (also known as Cloverdale Beach) did not have as many people come by, but it is still a great spot to visit with friends and family. Last year’s water testing showed high levels of E. coli, so bathe at your own risk. But the view of downtown from the water is reason enough to visit this accidental sandy beach.

Watermark with Britt Standen

Posted in: Inspiration, Recreation, Watermark | 0

 

I’ve lived on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River since I was 7 years old. At the time, I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to grow up on such a unique property, so close to this amazing body of water that feeds the city of Edmonton.

My cousins and I spent countless hours swimming and canoeing in the river. My parents bought a ski boat and along with their friends, we would waterski, swim and picnic all summer long. My parents, with their gymnastics backgrounds, were quite often asked by the city of Edmonton to come downtown and put on waterski shows during festivals and events. In the winter, my father would clear a patch of the river so we could ice skate and we would also cross country ski along the banks for hours.

Now that my husband and I own the property and my kids are growing up here, we realize how lucky we are to be living on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. It has changed a lot since I was a child; now having walking trails, walking bridges, and boat launch sites for all Edmontonians to enjoy.

Nine years ago, my friend Karen Percy Lowe invited me to the Waterkeeper Alliance Gala in Banff and we both decided we needed to walk the talk. We have this amazing body of water; a glacier-fed river that flows east from the Canadian Rockies and, eventually, into the Hudson Bay. That is what prompted me to get involved and protect our drinking water. So, I became one of the founding members of North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper to help keep our waters swimmable, drinkable, and fishable.

Every day our family wakes up looking at the river and its surroundings and feel very blessed to live on such a beautiful body of water: The North Saskatchewan River.

 

Britt has always been closely connected to the North Saskatchewan River. Since the inception of North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper, Britt has been an advocate for swimmable, drinkable, fishable watershed. She is currently the Vice President and Treasurer of North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper. Today, Britt is the president and owner of Physique Fitness Stores, Alberta’s premier retailer of fitness equipment. She continues to nurture her connection to the river with her husband, Craig, and two children.

At tonight’s Waterkeeper Gala, Britt will be introduced as one of 12 Swim Drink Fish Ambassadors, community leaders who have demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to creating a future where every Canadian can swim, drink, and fish. Click here to learn more!

Check out Britt’s story on the Watermark Archive!

 

Watermark with Kevin Lowe

One of North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper’s directors, Kevin Lowe’s interest in clean water grew out of his original bond with the Shuswap Lake. As he became educated on everyday practices that were threatening our watersheds, Kevin felt a pull to take responsibility for stewardship of this lake and other waters. Along with his wife Karen, Kevin has developed a leadership role as a Canadian Trustee in the Waterkeeper Alliance. They have worked hard in collaboration with other Canadian waterkeepers to make the North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper program a leader in the protection and preservation of our watershed.

As the President of Hockey Operations for the Edmonton Oilers and long-time resident of Edmonton, Kevin demonstrates commitment and dedication to making Edmonton a great city. Other endeavours include his support for fundraising efforts by the Stollery Children’s Hospital and leadership role with the Edmonton Oiler Community Foundation.

I grew up about an hour northwest of Montreal in the small city of Lachute, nestled in the foothills of the Laurentians, in Quebec’s cottage country. My family didn’t own a cottage back then; my father and uncles worked together running the family business and I think that sort of forced us to stick close to town during the summer months. But that never stopped us from loading the whole family up in our cars on hot, humid summer days and taking the 20 minute drive north to picnic at a place we used to called ‘Flat Rocks’. It was a spot where a stream (whose name escapes me now) flowed over a series of little waterfalls, forming small pools that were perfect for swimming. I’ll always remember the instant relief I felt jumping into those cool clean waters, and the great times we had together on the banks.

Now my family does have a cottage. It’s on Shuswap Lake in Southern B.C., where the summers are often scorching. On some of the hottest days, my wife and I would take our kids on hikes through Herald Provincial Park to Margaret Falls so we could all cool off in the spray from the waterfall. The comparison feels a bit funny now, but standing in the mists of that thundering waterfall with my kids would always bring me back to those days splashing around at the Flat Rocks with my family. I guess that’s probably why I care so much about safeguarding swimmable, drinkable, fishable water today; so everyone has a place to beat the heat and enjoy some good times with the people they love.

North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper is proud to be a part of the Watermark Project! To learn more about the Project and to check out Karen’s Watermark, visit the Watermark Project Archive.

To submit a Watermark of your own click here.

Sarah Harmer’s Great Lake Watermarks – Lake Erie

Posted in: Inspiration, Watermark | 0

It’s dark. I have driven overnight and arrived where the mouth of the Grand River meets the shallow north shore of Lake Erie. I am here to sing a song at a small sunrise wedding ceremony. I was given directions to this lighthouse, and I wait with my guitar on a gravel spit jutting into the water. I’m the first one to arrive but I’m not the only one awake. In the pre-dawn grey perch boats motor out from the harbour, their lights glowing as they pass. There’s a clatter of chains. I imagine anchors being hoisted, nets being hauled. I hear talk between the fishermen. Is it Portuguese? The sky slowly begins to lighten and a few silhouettes, wedding guests I hope, make their way down the path towards me.

Sarah Harmer is an award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter and activist.

Click here to check out this and Sarah’s other Great Lake Watermarks on the Watermark Project archive.

North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper is proud to be a part of the Watermark Project, preserving our national water heritage through storytelling. To submit a Watermark of your own click here.

Photo credit: Dustin Rabin

Sarah Harmer’s Great Lake Watermarks – Lake Superior

Posted in: Inspiration, Recreation, Watermark | 0

It’s near the end of April but still Thunder Bay is frozen in and Lake Superior’s ice and snow reflect the sun back up into the blue sky. I am here to sing at an Earth Day celebration. I walk to the end of the blustery pier and stand next to a metal sculpture with a speaker in it. I am alone but for a woman’s stark voice coming out of the speaker, saying words in her native tongue- Ice, Fire, Moose.

Is it Ojibwe? Inside the Harbour Centre I study a perfect replica of a Laker, with miniature cranes, wheelhouse, and cargo containers. The long history of moving grain and other goods out of this water trailhead is evidenced in the black and white photographs on the wall of shipbuilding and ribbon cutting ceremonies.

Sarah Harmer is an award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter and activist.

Click here to check out this and Sarah’s other Great Lake Watermarks on the Watermark Project archive.

North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper is proud to be a part of the Watermark Project, preserving our national water heritage through storytelling. To submit a Watermark of your own click here.

Photo credit: Dustin Rabin

 

Sarah Harmer’s Great Lake Watermarks – Lake Huron

Posted in: Inspiration, Recreation, Watermark | 0

Lake Huron

Here we were a few years ago starting a tour, my band mates and I, in the wee town of Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, a 5-hour drive northwest of Toronto. Lake Huron washes against both sides of this ancient spine. On the west side white sand and summer beach getaway towns. On the east side the crystal blue waters of Georgian Bay. The grotto is tempting, but rumoured to be ice cold. Up on the cliff we eat smoked whitefish caught just south of here off Cape Croker; the Chippewas of Nawash unceded First Nation. Nourished by the lake’s delicious offerings we trek this rugged Niagara Escarpment and kayak the misty waters at its base.

Sarah Harmer is an award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter and activist.

Click here to check out this and Sarah’s other Great Lake Watermarks on the Watermark Project archive.

North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper is proud to be a part of the Watermark Project, preserving our national water heritage through storytelling. To submit a Watermark of your own click here.

Photo credit: Dustin Rabin

Watermark with Karen Percy Lowe

Born and raised near the Bow River in Banff, Karen has always felt a connection with water and passion for global water issues. An Olympic and professional downhill skier, Karen’s interest and concern grew when she was asked to ski with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at the Annual Waterkeeper Alliance fundraiser in Banff six years ago. Wanting to bring her passion to the watersheds of her home province, Karen forged a lasting relationship with the Alliance.

Two-time Olympic Bronze Medalist, recipient of the Order of Canada, and mother of five; she is now an active Waterkeeper Trustee, and dedicates ongoing time and support to the efforts of the Waterkeeper Alliance as President of North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper.

I ski-raced for a long time but now I am a mother of four and I do a lot of charity work – which includes being the president of North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper.

Water has been a special part of my life for a really long time. I grew up in Banff, Alberta. The water was so cold there it took your breath away. I used to go canoeing a lot but I was a really big windsurfer. A group of us would take our boards and go to Jack Lake and windsurf. Growing up, I spent my summers by the water. My family would pile in the station wagon and go on trips, and my dad always insisted that we had to park the trailer by a lake.

There are two waterbodies that have made a big impact on my life. The first is the North Saskatchewan River. Twenty-five years ago I married Kevin Lowe. We lived in Edmonton and in New York for a few years and then found ourselves back in Edmonton when he was traded. This is where we raised our four children. My family has lived by this river for a long time. It is important to me that the river is protected because it is Edmonton’s source of drinking water. I want people to have drinking water from the North Saskatchewan River for generations to come. I also run a lot. There are a lot of great trails that run along the river. Years ago I was training for a marathon and I would run down one trail beside the river and back up on the other side. It really is beautiful.

The other water body that I am connected to is Shuswap Lake in British Columbia. We have spent our summers there since 1992. All my kids come – but so do other family members and it ends up being 20 people by the lake. My kids love going there. We swim, fish, jump off the dock, waterski, make waterski pyramids, have canoe races, and paddleboard races. When my kids were young I used to put them to bed and wake them up when it was dark so we could jump in the lake at night. It was a tradition. Its beautiful to be able to jump in the lake. I want my kid’s children to be able to experience that.

Every year I want to do one special thing when the kids come to Shuswap Lake. In the past, we have had seven people waterski behind the boat at one time, we made a water ski pyramid. Then the following year, we made a bigger water ski pyramid. We do it every year, so next year’s pyramid will be even bigger.

I got involved with protecting water when Kevin and I became trustees for Waterkeeper Alliance. We helped raise money and brought people we knew to the events. People kept asking me what was Waterkeeper Alliance, so rather than just explain it, I decided to walk the talk and do something. I wanted to do something local, so that people could understand what Waterkeeper was and see that the money was going local. It was a big project, but I just wanted to explain to people what we were doing and to help grow clean water in Canada. I wanted to protect the water we have since it is our drinking water.

North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper is proud to be a part of the Watermark Project! To learn more about the Project and to check out Karen’s Watermark, visit the Watermark Project Archive.

To submit a Watermark of your own click here.

The Watermark Project is Here!

North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper, in partnership with the National Water Centre and Waterkeepers across Canada, is proud to announce the official launch of the Watermark Project!

We often forget how water shapes our country, our culture, our lives. We forget how privileged we are to have access to more freshwater and ocean than arguably any other nation in world. When we forget, we become immune to the loss: the destruction and diminishment of Canada’s swimmable drinkable fishable waters.

As Canadians, we need to sharpen our memory. Our water is more than a necessity for keeping us alive, it is the thread that holds us together as a country. And that thread is best seen in our stories about being on, in or around water.

That is why we created the Watermark Project: to collect and archive Canadian water stories to demonstrate why swimmable drinkable fishable water matters.

When you think about your favourite body of water, what comes to mind? When you recall your most powerful memory of being on the water, what is it?  Everyone has a story – a Watermark – that connects them to a waterbody; provides them with another reason to protect it. That story often becomes the most powerful reason for protecting swimmable, drinkable, fishable water. And so it should.

Watermark’s are personal and powerful. Whether your Watermark is a positive or negative story about water, it is also valuable information about your environment, at a specific place, at a specific moment, with real people. In addition to being a powerful reminder of your connection to water, it also records and archives important information that can be used to protect water from future threats. Your Watermark is a ripple in a project intended to keep Canada a place where everyone and everything can safely swim, drink, and fish.

Recording and sharing your Watermark is an incredible personal experience. You can learn so much about yourself by submitting a Watermark, making that connection to a waterbody, causing that ripple. Help us protect your waterbody.

Try it. Build a force strong enough to cause a shift in our water culture so you can’t ever forget again.

Click Here to Discover the Watermark Project!

 

Reblogged from The National Water Centre

 

 

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