Our new Healthy Waters program

An excerpt from Tracking Raincoast into 2022.

In today’s complex, interconnected and fast-changing world, simplicity comes to mind as a rare but valuable commodity. Healthy family. A safe home. Good foods. But when pressed, what could be more immediately important than water?

We often take this precious resource (in Canada) for granted, forgetting that many remote, rural, and Indigenous communities have water that is tainted with fecal coliform, metals, or cancer-causing disinfection byproducts. And while water treatment delivers clean water to millions of homes in towns and cities across the country, an estimated 20% of Canadian homes have unsafe levels of lead (Pb) that enter their water from plumbing infrastructure. One might be surprised at what contaminants get through treatment or join the supply lines to your tap.

And that’s just about water for us humans. At the end of the day, we are only intercepting water for our needs along its cycle in the environment, borrowing it from watersheds, and releasing it as liquid waste into the habitat of fish and whales… adulterated with a complex soup of pharmaceuticals, hydrocarbons, metals, flame retardants, pesticides, and microplastics.

That’s where Healthy Waters fits in. A new Raincoast initiative that brings into focus our tacit participation in the water cycle, our role in shaping the quality of water in our surroundings, and opportunities to construct an innovation agenda that tackles pressing pollution issues. With climate change threatening water quantity and quality just about everywhere we look, the time is right for a refresh of the water file in BC.

Healthy Waters will be a community-oriented water pollution monitoring program that operates first throughout the Fraser River and Salish Sea watersheds, and subsequently throughout British Columbia. Key elements of this program will be a mobile laboratory that provides shared access to high end technology, Indigenous Knowledge that shapes the selection of monitoring locations of cultural and ecological value, and a training platform that harnesses the power of water stewards and watershed champions.

All this in a region blessed with a rich diversity of species and habitats, an area where salmon, whales, and people share a need for a most precious and undervalued resource: water.

You can help

Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.