Tag Archives: Ottawa South

Connecting with Water in Ottawa

On the day before the 2014 Ottawa municipal election a candidate was urgently calling the Ecology Ottawa offices, wantecology Ottawaing  the organization to post his environmental positions on it’s web site.


Earlier Ecology Ottawa developed a candidate survey on the group’s primary concerns..including water. The reason for the survey was to see which candidates would make water a priority, not just if they liked clean water. We can all agree that clean water is important, but we have to move beyond blanket statements and find a way to make water advocacy emotive. We all connect with water in some way so let’s use this connection to empower people to enact change.Voting


Many environmental organizations wrestle over policy, only to be met with silence when the blood , sweat , and tears of the organization are published. Being right is not enough. In the lead up to the 2014 election Ecology Ottawa  focused on being seen , heard, and counted..the candidates must know there is a large group that cares about the environment. Policy could come second to being heard and recognized. The candidates could then reach out to that group. The organization’s surveys forced the candidates to clarify their position on water and it’s level of priority.Ottawa City Council Chamber

Founded in 2000, Lake Ontario Waterkeepers wants to create a swimable, fishable, and drinkable future for Lake Ontario.  In looking at what connects people to water they have come up with the Waterkeeper  Swim Guide, a website and  app that gives up to date information on beach swimability. Using this technology they hope to assist with people connecting with the water. Having easier access to water quality information is good , but they want to be heard, to be heard they need more voices.

Both Ecology Ottawa and the Lake Ontario Waterkeepers  are trying to empower the community through collaborative efforts to influence the water discussion. For example, in the Ottawa Municipal election the candidates realized they could not ignore the environmental discussion as survey responses started to be discussed at the election debates.

Gord Downie speaking for a Lake Ontario Waterkeeper project.

The candidate who called Ecology Ottawa the day before the election, wanting his position on the environment to be posted on their web site unfortunately went down to defeat. The winner did have excellent environmental answers on the survey. In fact 17 of the 23 councillors provided great in depth survey answers.

Clean water is now on the table

From an article in Water Canada May/ June 2015, Emotional Connections by Stu Campana.



Hydraulic Fracturing in Canada

Fracturing1The development of unconventional oil and gas reserves through hydraulic fracturing has brought increased debate and discussion on this matter. Some  support  the shale gas revolution, while others want to ban it’s practice, and some are not so sure one way or the other.  The discussion at the government level  is equally divided across Canada as to how to manage the industry, while addressing public concerns.

At the heart of the issue is water…it’s use, management. protection, and it’s ecological and socio-economic importance.Fracturing2

To maximize the harvesting of underground resources water is used. The concern over the risks associated with this practice  are relatively new to the decision makers.  Risks can include the water use, induced seismicity, and contamination. Sometimes little water is required , sometimes quite a bit, depending on the circumstances. The waste water whether returned to the watershed or becomes a consumptive use is a concern. Hydraulic fracturing requires injecting water into a geologic formation, sometimes with chemical additives. some of the water returns to the surface, some leaches into the formation. We have to understand the risks associated with it’s use, handling, storage, and eventual disposal of this flow back water. What will be the effect, if and when this “used” water ,with it’s contaminants reaches waste streams?Fracturing3

Looking further into the issue there are concerns with surface spills of highly saline water, truck or pipeline spills, and a lack of information about what is being transported. Environment Canada and Health Canada have a list of some 800 known or suspected substances used in hydraulic fracturing, 33 of which are considered toxic. there is a potential for surface water contamination from leaks or spills at or near the surface.Industry has moved ahead at a rapid pace..with the understanding of potential blow back’s not entirely understood at this point.Fracturing4

Falling oil and gas prices have slowed the industry at this time, continued development of our resources is a given. Perhaps this breathing room can allow  research to understand it’s impact on the environment and human health.

This blog inspired by the article, Fractured Knowledge, by Kathryn Ross in Water Canada, Nov/Dec 2015.

Fracking..the good, the bad, and the ugly by 60 minutes.

Concerns with Canada’s Ocean Policy

Canada's OceansIncreasing acidity, thinning of sea ice in the Far North, depletion of life supporting oxygen in waterways, and the shifts in coastal wildlife populations are real concerns laid out in Canada’s State of the Oceans Report,2012. The causes of these issues range from natural cycles to industrial development and warn of trouble ahead. Oceans around the world are under pressure and face similar challenges..so why should Canada be concerned. Importantly we have more coastline than anyone else..some 240,000 km of coastline, including a vast arctic region. This complex web of life contributes $38billion to our GDP, from gas , oil, fishing, and tourism . What supports this is under stress. Research and initiatives seem substantial, but there is much to do.

In 2002 Fisheries and Oceans drafted a national oceans strategy, which was inspired by the world leading 1996 Canada Oceans Act. This Act was the first piece of national legislation in the world that focused solely on ocean management. This was seen as a chance to approach ocean management as a whole instead of piecemeal attempts. It called for an integrated approach to address economic, environmental, and social issues. 5 marine protection areas were promised.  More than a decade later the strategy is drifting. Some work has been done , but the focus has been lost in the myriad of federal and provincial departments that have input.  There is a real lack of follow through and a need for actual, measurable protection…and the stress on the oceans continues to grow.

Consider that carbon dioxide emissions are a major cause of acidification. Acidification disolves calcium ,and so it should be no surprise when the commercial shell fish industries report reduced harvests. Canada withdrew from the Kyoto protocol a year earlier, and has not yet agreed to international emissions reduction targets. Rising sea levels threaten low lying communities, wetlands, and salt marshes. Warming waters have sent some species looking for cooler waters. Nature is trying to adjust to these new realities and not always with the best results . Pacific salmon stocks have dwindled.  Hypoxia (areas of depleted oxygen levels) has produced dead zones in some areas of the world, with pockets noted around Vancouver Island and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Cod stocks were hit badly by over fishing have been replaced by crab and shrimp as primary species. Masses of floating plastic prove deadly to fish becoming entangled or mistaking the plastic for food


In particular with the warming waters of the Far North and the possabilty of year round shipping, is Canada ready to handle an oil spill in the Arctic. Questions like where would we allow aquaculture, wind farms, or where we might not allow certain types of shipping will become relevant.

Shipping in the Arctic in 2050.

Canada’s National Conservation Plan(2014) includes $252 million in funding over 5 yrs for a variety of conservation issues. $37 million is directed at marine and coastal conservation. With that Fisheries and Oceans Canada will continue to establish marine protected areas(MPA’s) addressing ecological needs and socio-economic needs. A national network of MPA’s  sounds nice but Canada has protected only 3% of ocean territory , while Australia has a national network of some 30%.

Australia’s Marine Reserves

Let’s keep pushing for reducing the reasons for climate change…reduce green house gases, and speed up the setting aside of Marine Protected Areas.



Polluted to Healthy Ecosystem..Hamilton’s Waterfront Recovers


hamilton-smokestacks Industrial waste used to be poured directly into the harbour. Three waste water treatment plants discharged into the harbour, and runoff from urban areas flowed freely. Contaminated sediment settled into the harbour. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between Canada and the US named Hamilton Harbour as one of the 43 Areas of Concern. A document called the Remedial Action Plan was produced in 1992 laying out a plan to undo years of abuse to the harbour. Community involvement came from the Bay Area Restoration Council, who promoted clean up projects, monitored and assessed the implementation of the RAP.

Developing Hamilton’s Waterfront.

Major accomplishments to date, include upgrades to 2 of the waste water treatment plants, and a $20 million rehab of the Windemere Basin. In 2013 a 25 hectare chunk of industrial land was reclaimed, restoring a local ecosystem and providing natural wildlife areas and park lands. By 2020 the harbour is expected to be delisted as an area of concern.Haliton3

Where once Hamilton’s shorelines were an ecological disaster, featuring dirty smelling water and dead fish..they are now attracting tourists, residents , and business.

Hamilton’s Royal Botanical Gardens jumped into the picture to add their skill to the Cootes Paradise Marsh. Their work is bringing life back to the marsh. Once an area teaming with life , it descended into a dark brown polluted pond. The causes were sewage, invasive carp, and land use changes leading to erosion. With the help of volunteers some 50,000 aquatic plants were introduced in the 90’s. Formerly barren…something started to happen. The quality of the water had started to improve. Canoes can now be seen regularly , as the residents get out and enjoy these areas. There was a big biodiversity festival and a birding festival. The Hamilton waterfront is becoming a place to go if you want to enjoy life and the water. Congratulations to Hamilton!

Experience Hamilton’s Waterfront..

The Drinkable Book.

02_Drinkable_Book_Front_AngleFrom WaterCanada September/October 2015 we have an article by Andre Voshart,Turning the page on Filtration. The article looks at the work of Dr. Theresa Dankovich with respect to an product that she is developing, The Drinkable Book.

Contaminated water  consumption causes millions of deaths each year…primarily among children. Dr. Dankovich discovered and developed an inexpensive , simple, and easily transportable nanotechnology based method to purify drinking water. Each page of the Drinkable book is impregnated with bacteria killing metal nanoparticles. Silver and other similar metals have been known to have the ability to kill bacteria, but no one have put them into paper to purify drinking water. While at McGill, she found sheets of thick filter paper embedded with silver nanoparticles could do just that…later Dr. Dankovich expanded the repertoire of embedded nanoparticles to include inexpensive copper, and began field trials in various African communities and Haiti. They found that even with highly contaminated water, with their silver and copper impregnated paper, they achieved 99.9% purity. Bacteria levels were comparable to U.S. drinking water.05_Drinkable_Book_Angle_Tear

Dr. Dankovich has formed a non profit, pAge Drinking Paper. The product is essentially a book made of pages embedded with silver nanoparticles. Water safety information is printed in English , and the language where the filter is to be used. Each page can be removed and installed into a special holding device in which water is poured through and filtered. Amazingly, one page can filter up to 100 liters of water. and a book can filter one person’s water needs for four years!07_Drinkable_Book_Water_Pour

Work continues on developing the product, and scaling .up from a research project to a manufactured product. Cool chemistry reaching out to the millions of contaminated water consumers world wide.                                                    If you want to find out more on this product click on the link for more details:

Canada can do better….

NON TOXICFrom an article by Randy Christensen and Elaine MacDonald, Nov/Dec 2015, On the Level, Water Canada. Canadian water guidelines are weaker than those in other jurisdictions. Although having an apparent abundance of fresh water, Canada has considerable quality and quantity concerns. These concerns suggest too little is being done to protect the health and well being of Canadians. Our federal and provincial governments determine the level of allowable contamination in drinking water, known as the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality

The authors did a study (Waterproof Standards 2014), in which they found Canadian guidelines are weaker than those in the USA,the EU,and Australia…and are at risk of becoming weaker. There is also evidence that Canada has no standards for some substances, where others do.  Of great concern is the Federal Provincial Territorial Committee on Drinking Water (CWD) has proposed doubling the allowable level for chromium. Cr-III is an essential nutrient…but Cr-VI is a known human carcinogen and is considered extremely toxic. Cr-VI is the contamination activist Erin Brockovitch exposed, as portrayed by Julie Roberts in the  movie. The CWD’s proposal will put us out of step with our international peers and the World Health Organization (WHO).LEAKY FAUCET

Herbicide 2-4-D has also been detected frequently in surface water across Canada, and is associated with damage to the nervous system, liver and kidneys…and is considered a possible human carcinogen. Other countries have a standard 1.5 to 3 times stronger than the Canadian standard. Canada has no limit for Styrene, another possible human carcinogen, while the USA, Australia, and the WHO have set limits.

Precedent for better protection of Canada’s drinking water exists. We can do better , but our governments must must find the will to defend public health and protect Canada’s drinking water.

Wolves Change Yellowstone’s River’s Course ~ Remarkable Video


The following excerpts are from ‘How Exactly Wolves Change the Course of Rivers’ by Ray Molina of yourdailymedia.com Mar. 1, 2014

I know you’re thinking that this can’t be possible – just read on!
Just this week ViralNova posted this topic so I thought I’d republish it for those who missed it on Mar. 4, 2014.  The video is really a must see.

…Trophic cascade is when the behavior of top predators have a trickling down effect on their environment. Let’s call these predators the “one percent.”
The one percent may be vicious killing machines who think only of themselves, but even bad intentions could have good outcomes. We are finding out that their murderous ways can be useful in controlling the over population of herbivores that are eating more than their fair share, which leaves little for a multitude of other animals lower on the food chain.
Eventually there will be plenty of wolves, perhaps even too many, and at some point we may need to protect the rest of the food chain from these top predators.
But like most things, if not everything, there’s a time and a place.
I do wonder about whether or not the Ecosystems would have just found a new way to balance themselves out over time. Who knows how long that might have taken though, or maybe it’s currently happening in ways we cannot yet witness.
The main culprit of our Eco failures is you and me through our destruction of habitats through land-developing and hunting and pollution. We really blew it, and now we’re trying to cut our losses by celebrating animals that repair our mistakes.

In the video below, Author/Activist George Monbiot describes to an audience at TED the effects of Wolves that were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park in the mid 90’s.
He describes how the wolves, in a relatively short period of time, have transformed the landscape and allowed more varieties of life to flourish. And wolves did it in ways we never expected.
It’s a humbling reminder of just how connected life on this planet really is.

The original TED talk by George Monbiot, gives numerous examples of how “rewilding” our ecosystem can give us back the earth our predecessors had the privilege of experiencing.

NOTE: There are “elk” pictured in this video when the narrator is referring to “deer.” This is because the narrator is British and the British word for “elk” is “red deer” or “deer” for short. The scientific report this is based on refers to elk so we wanted to be accurate with the truth of the story.

When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable “trophic cascade” occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix.

Narration from TED: “For more wonder, rewild the world” by George Monbiot. Watch the full talk, here: http://bit.ly/N3m62h

Article link – http://www.yourdailymedia.com/post/how-exactly-do-wolves-change-rivers