Urban rivers face unique challenges that often leave them a little worse for wear. the rivers are impacted by what we do on the land. how we build our cities and industries. The natural needs can finish a distant second to our needs , with the resulting negative effect on the waterway. With a little help, these natural needs can rebound and not be lost
Who Cares About Urban Rivers?
Let’s take a look a the Humber River in the west end of Toronto. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) recently released it’s Fresh Water Health Assessment of the Humber that found the waterway to be in fair condition, with good /fair scores in water flow and quality, as well as, fish and bug populations. No bad for a river whose health was very much in doubt. To achieve this local organizations worked hard to monitor and restore the river, in conjunction with good public policy choices from the city and provincials levels. Fair condition is not the goal, so more community engagement will be required to push forward more projects and policy for healthier water.
WWF is helping to build community engagement through the Loblaw Water Fund, which contributes to critical projects that aim to conserve , protect, or restore freshwater and riparian habitats and the species within them. One of the first projects to be funded will be engaging the multicultural Humber community on urban water issues by creating educational material in several languages and sponsoring activities as diverse as shoreline restoration and fish tagging.
Over the next few years WWF will assess the health of and the risks to more of Canada’s urban rivers, including the entire St. Lawrence watershed. This is a large undertaking that reflect’s WWF’s conviction that cities have a role to play in supporting and safeguarding nature. This project will provide a blue print for action, giving a clear picture of how are rivers are faring, and perhaps guiding policy to secure their long term health.
With 20% of the world’s fresh water we have a responsibilty to take care of the resource. Once we know how healthy are rivers are, and what will it take to make or keep them healthy, can we develop policy to pass on healthy water to the next generation.
Atwater Riverwalk: How Restoring Rivers Can Revitalize Cities.