Reflections on Water: How are you celebrating Canada Water Week?

Canada Water Week is just around the corner and I’m realizing how lucky I am to be Welsh-Canadian!  Sitting in my Collingwood home office overlooking picturesque Georgian Bay I’m trying to remember how I got into working on water (it’s funny to me that it’s called a “Bay” – at 15,000 square kilometres it would drown three-quarters of Wales).  Monmouth, the little town where I grew up, is defined by water.  Sitting in a meandering Welsh Valley its name comes from the confluence of the Monnow River and another larger river smack-dab in the centre of town (I’ve got great childhood memories of the rope swing my friends and I made so we could leap into the deep part of the Monnow on a hot summer’s day).  Now that I think about it, and I’m sure this is the same for so many of us, I have always felt a close connection to water.

Wales and Canada are both blessed with stunning waterscapes but the scale of Canada’s fresh water was truly mind-blowing when I came over from Wales ten years ago. Home to some of the largest and most impressive river and lake systems in the world – the Columbia River, the St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg, the Mackenzie and Saint John Rivers – the whole country could easily be declared a natural wonder.

But the size and glory of these water gifts betrays their fragility. There are troubling changes happening to Canada’s waterways. Rivers running dry in Alberta, Lake Winnipeg pillaged by toxic algae, nasty non-native species suffocating the Great Lakes and too much industrial and municipal waste being found in our rivers and lakes. These changes mirror what’s happening around the world but there are some regions that have already reached a tipping point. I remember learning the extent of these global problems when, on the urging of one of my professors, I read “Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource” by Marq de Villiers. This brought on a mini-epiphany and was the impetus for starting a career focused on ensuring Canada’s water never reaches this stage of irreversible crisis.

One of the things I’ve learned as I’ve chatted with people about our water is that everyone has an intimate connection to their local river or lake. We play in it, swim in it, drink it, and it brings deep spiritual comfort. Canadians are proud of these liquid gifts and in no way do we want to endanger our ability to do all these things. This is why from March 14-22 Canadians are joining together for Canada Water Week, a celebration of our rivers and lakes, and a community commitment to ensuring they stay healthy and living. To join in and be part of this conversation visit this blog often!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Family and Flow: Reflections on Canada Water Week | Our Living Water - March 13, 2011

    […] Tim’s blog post got me thinking about how I came to work on water issues. And Canada Water Week seems like a good time for some reflection. […]

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