Sixteen years ago, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper co-founders Mark Mattson and Krystyn Tully joined forces and set out to monitor Lake Ontario. Together, they investigated the health of the watershed and heard the stories of the people that rely on the lake.
Since that first summer in 2001, Waterkeeper has grown. We’ve developed a variety of tools, projects, and programs – all of which continues to work towards a swimmable, drinkable, fishable future for our Great Lake. And this summer, for the first time we invited you to join us in our investigative work.
Thanks to the generous support of Muskoka Brewery and Evergreen’s Fresh Water Grants, last month we launched our Waterkeeper Investigation Team.
At the most, the team was made up of 15 volunteers. And anyone interested was able to join if they were willing to get their hands a little wet.
Every Tuesday morning throughout September, our Waterkeeper’s Investigation Team gathered along Toronto’s harbourfront. Together, we set out to sample the water at three key sites along Toronto’s inner harbour. Why? Because Toronto has one of the busiest harbour fronts in North America – yet, 95% of Toronto’s shoreline is not tested for water quality. Without water quality information, recreational water users who are active on the lake year round, are unable to make informed decisions to protect their health.
On top of training the group on the how’s and why’s of collecting water samples, our staff also took turns speaking about the different facets of water sampling. We covered the Water Literacy basics, pollution reporting, the nitty gritty details on what really goes on in our in-house lab, and the power of online documentation. We covered it all.
Waterkeeper’s sampling trips were an extension of a larger ongoing investigation on Toronto’s sewage pollution which we spearheaded 3 years ago. The results from our summer of sampling will be publicly released in a report later this fall.
We opened these sampling trips to the public because we know that seeing the water, in-person, is one of the easiest ways to find out if there is a problem. If you want to go another step further and test the water, even better. From there, each one of us can be empowered to take steps in our own lives, however big or small, towards a solution.
Our staff had so much fun with the Investigation Team. We hope that everyone who participated was able to learn something new about their lake. Perhaps re-examine the way they see and use the lake and possibility re-evaluate their relationship with the lake.