How can I open up to nature?

“Rising global temperatures contribute to an early start to wildfire season.”
“Coastal erosion threatening residents’ homes.”
“Toxic blue green algae a hazard to pet health, drinking water supply.”

Headlines expressing the dire state of the environment, like those outlined above, flood my social media news feeds.

While reading them often leaves me feeling hopeless, those feelings often give way to a desire for responsibility and I am left wondering what I - as an individual - can do to even begin to remedy these problems. What small part might I play?

As an outcome of that desire to discover how I can make a difference, I have found 5 unique, water-focused projects in communities across Canada that are assisting with building a climate-resilient future, enhancing biodiversity, advancing reconciliation, growing the economy, and ensuring strong, healthy communities. Any of these projects can be adapted to fit your community’s needs and allow for you to take direct action towards building a water-secure future.

1. Building a climate-resilient future
Organization: Watersheds Canada
Project: Building Climate Change Resilient Shorelines with a Green Infrastructure Initiative

Watersheds Canada is committed to building a climate-resilient future through using green infrastructure to restore shorelines along the Cataraqui, Quinte, and Mississippi River watersheds. Personalized shoreline restoration plans will be developed for 30 properties and landowners will be invited to directly participate in the restoration process. Over 5000 native plants will be planted on the shorelines that are currently experiencing erosion and poor water quality due to the lack of vegetation. Using native plants as a form of green infrastructure will help to protect the shorelines against further erosion and improve their resilience to climate change.

Your action: Incorporate native plants into your home garden

2. Protecting ecosystems & enhancing biodiversity
Organization: Pigeon Lake Watershed Association
Mulhurst Bay Clean Runoff Demonstration Garden

The Pigeon Lake Watershed Association is protecting ecosystems and advancing biodiversity in Mulhurst Bay, Alberta with their Clean Runoff Demonstration Garden project. This initiative involves installing a clean runoff demonstration garden that will improve lake and local ecosystem health by using a low drainage solution to reduce excess nutrients from entering the lake. The project will also provide long-term environmental education opportunities by connecting community members with healthy-lake experts.

Your action: Build a rain garden on your property

3. Advancing reconciliation
Organization:Living Lakes Canada
Growing S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) in Community-based Water Monitoring

Living Lakes Canada is promoting reconciliation by providing Indigenous and non-Indigenous student participants with learning opportunities and skills related to water monitoring. The trainees will develop skills for stream health and biodiversity assessments while using new, cutting-edge technologies. These strengthened relationships will promote collaborative water stewardship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and allow for more informed land-use decisions.

Your action: Research which traditional territory you live on. NativeLand is a good place to start.

4. Growing the economy
Clean Annapolis River Project
Project: Implementing Low Impact Development Techniques on Private Lands

The Clean Annapolis River Project has engaged with 20 homeowners within the Annapolis River watershed to implement green infrastructure and low impact development techniques, such as cistern systems to harvest rainwater. Implementing these techniques will produce numerous economic benefits, including producing green jobs in the construction and maintenance of green infrastructure, improving property values, and reducing the costs associated with traditional, grey infrastructure.

Your action: Implement a rain barrel or a similar low impact development technique to manage rainwater on your property.

5. Ensuring strong, healthy communities
Elbow River Watershed Partnership
Project: Monitoring and restoration projects in the Elbow watershed

The Elbow River Watershed Partnership is restoring the Elbow watershed headwaters using natural processes. The natural restoration process will involve planting native willows, spreading local sedge seed, and decompacting the soil. The learnings from this project will be shared through social media, encouraging the community to further develop healthy watershed plans to ensure water security.

Your action: Sign our Open2Nature Pledge and get started on your journey making room for nature in your home, community and across your region.

These projects came from research completed by the Our Living Waters Network. They are just a sample of the types of projects that are being planned across the country to advance water health and security. Which of these projects could you see in your home or community this summer?