In 2001, our team launched Lake Ontario Waterkeeper (LOK), the first Waterkeeper program on a Great Lake. We are a licensed member of Robert F. Kennedy Jr?s Waterkeeper Alliance, the fastest growing environmental movement in North America.
The Waterkeeper project is simple ? ordinary citizens stake out the public?s ancient claim to clean water and strong communities by patrolling our waterways, tracking down polluters, and using laws and due process to hold them accountable. We run a weekly environmental law workshop, conduct education and outreach programs in all regions around Lake Ontario, and maintain the Internet?s most popular web site geared towards defending and enjoying Lake Ontario.
Every day, we bear witness to the injuries inflicted on our water quality, our communities, and our local economies. Great losses occur each time Canadians and Americans turn their backs on our greatest fresh-water resources ? these losses take the form of depleted fisheries, contaminated beaches, filthy urban rivers, and the chemical cocktails which lurk at the bottoms of our harbours.
While Lake Ontario is often considered hopelessly polluted, as active members of the waterfront community and we know this is not true. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper is proud to be part of a powerful commitment made by a community stretching from one end of the lake to the other ? a commitment to reclaim the natural and civil heritage that will re-establish the Great Lakes System as the biological, economic, and cultural heart of our region.
LOK is an environmental ?neighbourhood watch? program modelled after the Riverkeeper program launched on the Hudson River in the mid 1960s. Since 1983, the Hudson Riverkeeper ? led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. ? has brought to justice more than 300 environmental lawbreakers.
The miraculous resurrection of the Hudson has inspired the creation of nearly 100 other Waterkeeper programs world-wide. The success of the Riverkeeper model, combined with our own success in the field, provides us with the inspiration to fight every day for clean water and strong communities.
Since we launched Lake Ontario Waterkeeper last year, our grassroots efforts have:
Helped individuals from Hamilton to Kingston enforce environmental laws written to protect our natural rights.
Helped local community and political leaders understand and implement those rights.
Delivered education programs to encourage thousands of young people to reassert their claim to a future that includes dignity, good health, and pride in their community and their connection to the lake.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper is effective because we work on the ground, providing real information for real action:
When Lake Ontario Waterkeeper monitored rivers in Hamilton, Toronto, and Kingston this summer; we found that raw sewage had rendered the waters unsafe to touch.
We discovered radioactive hazardous waste pouring into the lake from the Port Granby waste management facility near Port Hope.
We have provided the only Canadian analysis of a US-government plan to expand commercial shipping on the Great Lakes, a plan which would cost billions of dollars and reap no benefits for Ontarians.
It is an effective, powerful program. In 2003, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper will:
Establish a national presence in Canada when Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. host the Waterkeeper Alliance?s annual conference in Toronto in June.
Create a Lake Ontario Waterkeeper centre at our new offices in toronto's Harbourfront. Nearly three million people will walk by our doors this summer ? just a few feet away from Lake Ontario itself.
Continue pollution patrols in our efforts to deter polluters, monitor contaminated sites, and visit each community on the lake. The evidence we gather is used by government and private citizens to enforce environmental laws.
Expand our highly successful environmental law workshop which fosters young legal talent and provides Lake Ontario Waterkeeper with invaluable research support.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper works with all members of the waterfront community, from area residents to recreationalists and businesses. We?d love to hear your stories, or help you learn more about this great lake.
Visit our web site for more information or to sign up for our weekly newsletter: www.waterkeeper.ca.