Canadians overwhelmingly care about their waters. We can think about fond memories of time spent by our waterbodies. We appreciate the safety and cleanliness of our drinking water. We can enjoy the splendour of seeing aquatic wildlife thriving in their habitat. But the real question is: do Canadians care for their waters?
Caring for water is not only enjoying what water provides us, but enabling it to thrive by protecting it. In other words, caring for water is becoming a water guardian. Water guardians are protectors of our lakes, rivers, and streams. Becoming a water guardian can seem like a daunting task, but it takes easy habits to make a significant difference. There are the 6 important steps (in any order) that can help you become a steward for your waters:
- Spend more time on the water more often
- Discover your connection to water and share it with a Watermark story
- Join a water community (like the North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper and Swim Drink Fish)
- Learn the basics about your local waters
- Document what you see on the water (take photos, submit pollution reports, share on Swim Guide)
- Participate in decision-making when it affects your waterbody
One of the best ways to protect your waters is to get to the water. Spending time on the water can help to form a connection. This connection leads to care and will create experiences with waterbodies. Sharing those experiences through stories via the Watermark Project contributes to an important database of water stories. Joining a water community, even if it’s family and friends, and having events by the water or about the water can help to protect it. There are also many groups and organizations that you can join to form a water community. By caring for water, it can lead to a general interest in water, so you will seek out information about your body of water (like the information in this blog). By becoming informed, you are able to recognize when something is wrong with your waterbody, such as recognizing pollution, and have the abilities to report problems to the Swim Guide. There are also opportunities to share your opinion on how your waterbody is managed in order to keep it swimmable, drinkable, and fishable. Most waterbodies have decision-making groups and events that you can get involved with to protect your waters. For example, the city of Edmonton often has public engagement opportunities like open houses and online surveys for you to voice your opinion on decision-making that impacts the North Saskatchewan River. Be sure to engage in some or all of these 6 behaviours to care for your waterbody.
As 2019 approaches, we are faced with the annual tradition of selecting our resolutions. This year, why not strive to become a water guardian? These habits are very attainable and benefit not only your favourite waterbodies, but you as well. There are numerous health benefits to spending time in nature with an engaged and informed community that document what they see and participate in decision making. Choose one water guardian behaviour at a time, and watch your watershed thrive!
May your 2019 be filled with swimmable, drinkable, and fishable waters.
Happy New Year!