Healthy Waters Program

A new Healthy Waters initiative for salmon, whales, and people.

Photo by Alex Harris / Raincoast.

Water is essential for life and is shared among all living things. Water creates and sustains healthy habitats for salmon and for killer whales, and provides drinking water for people. From pesticides to tire particles in salmon streams, from PCBs in killer whales to microplastics in zooplankton, from bacteria to lead in tap water – we are all impacted by water pollution. 

Working with our Indigenous communities and organizational partners, we will build a community-oriented water pollution monitoring capacity that provides insight into the quality of water for homes and for the habitats of salmon and whales. With 80% of ocean pollution coming from land, we are all connected to the ocean.

International expertise

To launch this program, Raincoast has recruited toxicologist Dr. Peter S. Ross, an internationally recognized ocean pollution expert who has published over 160 scientific articles and book chapters on pollutants of concern in the oceans, and impacts on fish, seals, whales and people. Read more about Peter.

An invisible crisis

Since no single agency is responsible for the pollution of water in all its forms, there is an urgent need for a more comprehensive approach to monitoring water pollution in British Columbia – one that seamlessly captures water along its journey from headwaters to homes, street runoff to rivers, and rivers to the ocean. And one that helps to identify solution-oriented priorities for all of us.

A young person jumps and plays splashing water in the Fraser River.
Photo by Michael O. Snyder.

A community invitation

Using a collaborative framework we will build a water pollution monitoring plan with community water stewards, notably Indigenous Nations. The initiative will begin in the urbanized Fraser River and Salish Sea watersheds, with the possibility of a BC-wide expansion. The collaborative process considers the needs of community collaborators at the conception, design, implementation and dissemination phases and considers processes for input from multiple parties at each stage. 

Read our report on contaminants in the Semá:th X̱ó:tsa (Sumas Lake) region

A lake re-emerges: Analysis of contaminants in the Semá:th X̱ó:tsa (Sumas Lake) region following the BC floods of 2021

Citation: Ross, P.S., Walters, K.E., Yunker, M. and B. Lo. 2022. A lake re-emerges: Analysis of contaminants in the Semá:th X̱ó:tsa (Sumas Lake) region following the BC floods of 2021. Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Sidney BC Canada. ISBN 978-1-9993892-6-0

November 2022 | ISBN 978-1-9993892-6-0
Written by Peter S. Ross, Kristen Walters, Mark Yunker, and Bonnie Lo

Two tiny fish float int he dark green sea.

Get in touch

Consultation at the start and throughout the program’s timeline will foster acceptance within communities, encourage participation and sharing, create a robust network of custodians, and deliver informed data and priorities to homeowners, communities, Indigenous Nations, stakeholders and authorities.

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, we’d like to hear from you.

  • Are you concerned about water pollution?
  • Do you have specific concerns about pollutants in your homes, communities or harvesting areas?
  • Are you interested in solving a water pollution problem?

To find out how you can help build this initiative, contact .

Recent articles

Sam scott with a backpack by the ocean.

Meet Samantha Scott, Raincoast’s new Water Quality Coordinator

Sam has joined our Healthy Waters Program team as a Water Quality Coordinator. She assists Dr. Peter Ross in the implementation of community-based research into water quality in various watersheds…

Four people walking in a garry oak meadow.

Raincoast welcomes new team members who have joined our team for the summer!

We are thrilled to have six talented individuals join our team through the federal Canada Summer Jobs program and the Sustainability Scholar and BRITE Internship program at the University of…

Three killer whales swimming near the surface of the water.

Letter in Science identifies the contradiction between protecting economic growth and biodiversity in Canada’s Fraser River Estuary 

The June 30th, 2023 edition of the journal Science features a letter written by Raincoast science staff on the repercussions of expanding the shipping terminal at Roberts Bank in the…

A school of red fish swim through very clear water, showing the sand beneath them.

Addressing the systemic, anthropogenic threats causing the decline of wild salmon

Wild salmon in British Columbia are at a critical crossroads. Within the Fraser River alone, record low numbers of Chinook, sockeye, and steelhead have returned to spawn in the last…