Over 22 million Canadians will take a dip in one of our countries lakes or rivers this year. Sadly, some 330,000 will get some form of illness or discomfort because the waters were less than clean.
1.1 trillion litres of bacteria laden sewage is poured into the natural environment each year. We direct stormwater, agricultural run off, and industrial waste into our waters every day. We pave and develop coastlines , add new structures, and fill in wetlands that filter our water. In 2011 there were 6,189 water quality warnings on Great Lake beaches. People do get sick, kids are growing up without access to beaches, and before you know it a generation will have gone by before the infrastructure is improved.
Two thirds of all Canadians swim each year. Interestingly, in Alberta, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada 4 in 10 people never swim in a lake or river. These are the same provinces where people are most concerned about water quality. Will these communities pass on the enjoyment of a summer swim in a lake or a concern that the water is dangerous to swim in.
We feel connected to the environment and protective of our water resources, yet waterways are still being used as dumping grounds. Montreal recently dumped a huge amount of sewage into the St. Lawrence. We can do better than that.
Krystyn Tully of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper started tracking beach water quality and beach closings. After several years of studying beach postings, reviewing water quality, and developing the Water Keeper Swim Guide she realized there was something much worse than a beach advisory. Too often beach advisories disappear ..not because the water improved , but because decision makers turn their backs. Monitoring stops and there are no more bad results. “No Swimming” signs go up, no one can touch the water. Denial and giving up are the biggest failures of all. Let us strive to do better.
With spring around the corner and summer on the horizon , if you think having an app to guide you as to the quality of local beaches check out and down load the Waterkeeper Swim guide App. This video is a little old , but the app has been updated to include many areas not mentioned..including our local Ottawa beaches.
the Swim Guide..getting started:
you can also check out.. http://www.theswimguide.org