TORONTO (April 24, 2013) – On the heels of Earth Day 2013 celebrations, River Network, a national support center for grassroots river conservation, is celebrating its silver anniversary by highlighting twenty-five success stories and lessons learned from water advocates across Canada and the U.S.
The Waterkeeper Swim Guide, one of the 25 success stories, was created right here in Toronto. Created to answer the simple question “Is it safe to swim in Lake Ontario?” the Swim Guide has grown from a collection of spreadsheets to a popular smartphone app that has helped more than 100,000 people find clean swimming holes around North America. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and the Swim Guide app are bringing people back to the beach and making waves in the world of community-based watershed protection (www.theswimguide.org).
“Swim Guide’s success is largely a testament to people’s genuine love for beaches and craving for everything that comes with swimmable water - namely, time with our friends and family, opportunities to interact with nature, and healthy, active lives. Swim Guide helps deliver all of those things with the touch of a button,” says Waterkeeper Mark Mattson. “We are so honoured to have been recognized by River Network, one of the most influential voices on water issues in North America.”
The growth over the past quarter century of the watershed protection movement is one of the great under-reported success stories of conservation. In 1988 there were perhaps 200 state or local groups whose primary purpose was to protect freshwater resources. Today, there are more than 2,000.
Tens of thousands of passionate, dedicated grassroots leaders have all contributed in their own way – and together we have forged a thriving and dynamic movement. As the hub of a national network, River Network is helping groups like Lake Ontario Waterkeeper share and replicate these successes in communities across Canada and the United States.
“From the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, the groups we’ve featured in our 25th Anniversary River Voices have found success in many arenas – dam removal, river cleanups, habitat restoration, water quality monitoring and numerous strategies to reduce water pollution “said Todd Ambs, River Network President. “They provide a portrait in time of the diversity and richness of the watershed protection movement.”
All twenty-five stories are available for download at: www.rivernetwork.org
A newly improved Waterkeeper Swim Guide will be launched in time for the May long weekend at: www.theswimguide.org. Waterkeeper Swim Guide is available for download on the App Store or on Google Play.
- 30 -
About Lake Ontario Waterkeeper Lake Ontario Waterkeeper is a grassroots, non-profit charity dedicated to creating a swimmable, drinkable, fishable Lake Ontario. Waterkeeper dreams of creating “communities where it is safe to touch the water, where the water is pure enough for drinking, and where it is clean and wild enough to toss in a line and pull out a fish for your family”. Working towards this dream, the organization educates the public about the Great Lakes, connects people to the water through initiatives like Swim Guide, participates in formal decision making processes, and conducts research in areas of science, law, policy and culture. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper is a member of Robert F. Kennedy’s internationally-recognized Waterkeeper Alliance. To learn more about Waterkeeper, visit www.waterkeeper.ca or Facebook. Follow us on Twitter (@LOWaterkeeper).
About River Network River Network is leading a national watershed protection movement that includes more than 2,000 local, state and regional and local grassroots organizations whose primary mission is to protect rivers and watersheds. For twenty-five years, River Network has worked closely with watershed protection groups from coast to coast – building the capacity of state and local organizations, assisting people grappling with water and environmental health problems, protecting habitat for fish and wildlife, developing blue cities, and reducing our country’s use of water and energy. To learn more about River Network, visit www.rivernetwork.org or Facebook.
For more information, contact:
Allie Kosela at Lake Ontario Waterkeeper
Matt Burke, River Network