Take your water personally

By Lindsay Telfer, Project Director, Canadian Freshwater Alliance
Every year, around the time of Canada Water Week, I am reminded of the diversity of water hero’s that are working to engage residents across Canada on the importance of water to our daily lives!
Despite the reality that none of us would survive longer than three to five days without water or that more than fifty percent of our bodies are made up of water (for most of us it is between 60-70%) – we, quite simply, take it for granted.
Hand scooping water with a glass

©  Istockphoto.com / WWF-Canada

Often, when we think of water strained regions of the world, we conjure up images where access to clean water requires a daily trek of miles.  Or the contaminated rivers of some of the densest populated regions of the world.
Stories of water stress abound the earth.
We do not, however, need to travel far in Canada (no matter where we call home) to see the challenges knocking on our own doors – and in some cases, the unwanted guest has found its way into our homes.
A First Nations family wakes up every morning to find they cannot drink the water from their taps – taps that prior to the 70s did not exist – and a river outside their doors that is no longer clean enough to rely on.
A land-owner lights their well-water on fire in a region where high levels of natural gas fracking occur.
Cottage owners arrive to their cherished retreats only to find they cannot swim in neighboring lakes due to increasing blue-green algae blooms.
Many of us have intimate, often emotional, experiences with water.  Close your eyes for a minute and think of a time or place near, on or in water. Take a picture of this moment in your mind.
Now, what would you do if that special river of yours no longer had fish?   Or if the waters where you picnicked with your extended family began to foam with a murky green slime?  Or worse yet, if every day when you turned on your tap water, you worried that your family might get sick.
The Canadian Freshwater Alliance was founded (with WWF-Canada as a founding partner) to strengthen and support the ability of communities and organizations to watch over our home waters and to build for a stronger, more cohesive, network of our water hero’s from coast-to-coast-to-coast.  After just over a year in existence, we were both honoured and tremendously surprised to be selected as a Tides Top 10 for 2012 – our first year in existence.
This honour, I believe, was a signal that our founding vision – to unite, train and engage Canada’s freshwater leaders – inspired our early followers.  We can invoke creativity and innovation in how we engage Canadians in efforts to safeguard our waters – we must – we all have home waters that need protecting.
So, I invite you to join with me, my Freshwater Alliance colleagues and our partners – including WWF-Canada – to work with us, alongside us, in ensuring ALL of our home waters are healthy, thriving and living waters.
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