Celebrating Water: Flowing or Frozen

By Kat Hartwig

March 14 – 22 is Canada Water Week. How do we celebrate water – such a vital resource – when much of it is still frozen across our vast country? In my neck of the woods, a frozen lake is celebrated just as much as a refreshing dip on a hot summer day.

Lake Windermere, located in southeastern British Columbia, freezes annually between November and April. The lake is a resource our communities depend on for drinking water, recreation, and spiritual fulfillment, becomes a buzz of activity. Ice fishing, skating, walking, skiing, skijoring, hockey, even bicycling, fill a sunny winter’s day.

We are so fortunate to be able to enjoy this resource year round – and in so many different ways.

In partnership with the B.C. Lake Stewardship Society, our local environmental non-government organization, Wildsight, has participated in an ongoing process to document Lake Windermere’s “ice-on” and “ice-off” patterns and ice cycles.

Seasonal differences in the ice cover for lakes and rivers can have a substantial impact on these ecosystems. Changes in the breeding seasons and migration patterns of birds and waterfowl, food supplies for fish and mammals, water temperature along with changes to water chemistry can all occur. Ice cover can also affect national trade, transportation, outdoor recreation and tourism.

The information gathered on Lake Windermere was submitted to the B. C. Lake Stewardship Society and incorporated into their provincial database – information used by scientists who are studying the natural freezing and thawing cycles of Canadian waters. Because ice cover is directly affected by climate change, recording and analyzing ice cycles helps scientists understand how climate change is affecting the environment.

From curling bonspiels to Snowflake Festivals, even the 2010 Olympic Torch was transported across the lake on skates. In the Columbia Valley we love our lake and we know how to celebrate it.

Canada Water Week aims to raise the profile and understanding of water across Canada through a week-long celebration of this precious resource, starting March 14 and culminating with World Water Day on March 22, 2011.

National Canada Water Week activities are being organized jointly by the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, WWF-Canada and Living Lakes Network Canada.

Local activities will be coordinated by individuals and community groups across the country. By raising awareness about water and its importance to our nation’s prosperity, we aim to stimulate individual, community and government action on clean water. Find an event near you!

Kat Hartwig is the Executive Director of Living Lakes Network Canada

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