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

Person holding the report.

We need to understand the extent to which floods further degrade fish habitat

A version of this article was published by Vancouver Sun on December 8, 2022. In November 2021, we viewed with alarm the unfolding flood disaster in southern BC. With government agencies…

Aerial view of the Barrowtown pump station.

A former lake re-emerges: A backgrounder

The catastrophic floods of late 2021 in southern British Columbia (Canada) and neighbouring Washington State (USA) destroyed homes, farms, and businesses, with excess water spilling debris, animal carcasses, and diesel…

Illustrated representation of the vision for the Healthy Waters mobile lab, a van, set near the water with mountains and a city looming in the background, and icons surrounding it.

Help us design, build, and deploy our new mobile lab

Last month, many of our supporters voted for us in Land Rover’s Defender Series Award when we were trying to win a vehicle to use as a mobile lab. While…

Some Healthy Waters team members do water sampling over a river and rocks on the lower mainland.

Vote to help Raincoast win a Land Rover to launch our mobile lab, Tracker

Last year, we launched our Healthy Waters Program to provide a much-needed community-oriented water pollution monitoring capacity, and bring insight into the health of water for people and for the…