Protection from Chemicals in the Water We Drink

On May 31st, Canada and the United States designated the first set of Chemicals of Mutual Concern which are potentially harmful to human health or the environment, and are caused by anthropogenic sources - sources that were caused or influenced by humans.

Glasses of water30 million people get their drinking water from the Great Lakes. All levels of society need to work together to press for more progress on protecting the water from potentially harmful chemicals in the Lakes.

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Protecting wetlands & fresh water in Collingwood

Georgian Bay Forever is thankful for the support of the RBC Blue Water Project to help eradicate invasive Phragmites from Collingwood's provincially significant coastal wetlands. The Breathing New Life to Collingwood Beaches initiative is focused on reducing invasive Phragmites which threatens biodiversity, habitat for threatened species, and wetland functionality. The RBC Blue Water Project helps protect the world’s most precious natural resource: fresh water. Since 2007, RBC has pledged nearly C$44 million to more than 740 charitable organizations worldwide that protect watersheds and promote access to clean drinking water, with an additional $8.8 million pledged to universities for water programs.
RBC has just released an important 2016 Canadian Water Attitudes Study , that reinforces the need to protect water. Please read the highlights of this report and about Breathing New Life to Collingwood Beaches.

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5 things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint

5 ways to reduce your carbon footprint

At Georgian Bay Forever, we believe explaining, identifying cause and helping to manage solutions to mitigate climate change are critical for the future of Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes. But as individuals, climate change impacts and being able to help can seem overwhelming and hard to figure out.

Some of you have asked - what can we do? The good news is you can do something everyday, and influence others by your example!

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On World Wetlands Day, treasure Georgian Bay’s wetlands

Most wetlands in the Great Lakes have already been lost or degraded due to human disturbance. More than 50% of wetlands in Lakes Michigan, Erie and Ontario have been negatively affected. But in Lakes Superior and Huron, including Georgian Bay, over 70% have been minimally impacted.

With more than 8,000 km of shoreline on The Bay and 3,700 aquatic marshes in Eastern and Northern Georgian Bay alone, these areas provide high quality habitat for fish, amphibians and reptiles, insects, birds, waterfowl, a variety of other land-based wildlife, as well as numerous in-water and coastal plant species.

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Hockey weekends and the Nottawasaga River

Like many of you, I spend a fair amount of time in hockey rinks with other parents watching our little ones experience the ecstasy and agony of one of the best sports in the world. Last weekend, I was at a hockey tournament in the Nottawasaga area.

Sadly, our team didn’t fare too well on the ice, but did happily enjoy being together and having fun. It did give me the opportunity to see the Nottawasaga River, and an excuse to link two great passions – hockey and learning about water that feeds Georgian Bay.



The Nottawasaga river starts at the Orangeville reservoir and ends at the town of Wasaga Beach where it flows into Nottawasaga Bay, part of Georgian Bay . The water journeys and meanders through Dufferin County, the Niagara escarpment, and the amazing Minesing wetlands, which Ontario has designated as an ” Area of Natural and Scientific Interest”.  According to “Friends of Minesing Wetlands”,  over 221 bird species have been sighted in these wetlands; while 135 of these species use these wetlands as nesting grounds. Home to hundreds of plant species, the wetlands are composed of swamps,fens, bogs, and marshes that link and connect and ultimately act as a giant sponge during spring thaw; that let-offs a constant flow of water into the Nottawasaga River in the summer.



Reading up on such important wetland, reminded me to keep vigilant about mapping, reporting and controlling invasive Phragmites – which is a fast spreading reed that can grow into dense monostands that reduce habitat for birds and other species and threaten native plant biodiversity. I was glad I didn’t see any of the dead stalks in the quick views of the river from the road – however, I certainly saw this plant along the highways going up. Last summer, GBF and 16 communities worked on removing over 8000 kilograms of this plant and we will be back at it again this summer. The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority was a great partner in helping remove Phragmites from the coastal areas in Collingwood, and appeared with our GBF’s David Sweetnam in this Penny Skelton show to discuss the project.

If you want to help Georgian Bay wetlands, learn more about the Phragmites workshops Georgian Bay Forever is hosting this April.

Picture of Winter Phragmites

I left Nottawasaga with some beautiful winter pictures of the river, and wondering whether it was usually more frozen. On returning back to the city, it was great to see that our backyard rink, which we had not been able to enjoy at all in December,  had frozen over finally for some more practice fun time. We’ll get them next year!

a Picture of outdoor hockey rinks

If you are interested in writing about Georgian Bay with a connection to the water, please contact me, Heather Sargeant – the Communications Director. We want to create more posts that share your information about Georgian Bay!


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Climate Change Part 2 – NASA determines wetlands impact from space

Half the worlds wetlands have been lost since 1900 ( UN) , mostly due to human disturbance. What is not known is the impact of lowering water levels due to climate change.
While water levels in Georgian Bay fluctuate for a variety of reasons, the long-term trend (30 to 40 years) is that Lake Huron-Michigan water level averages will continue to decline largely in response to climate change, with probabilities of extreme lows and possibilities of short-term highs.

Lowered water levels can strand and destroy areas of wetland. GBF wanted to know the impact to the relatively pristine wetlands of Georgian Bay that play such a critical role in its health.

In 2014 and 2015, Georgian Bay Forever and the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative participated in collaborative work with the NASA-DEVELOP program and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to map wetland change in the Georgian Bay area.

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A view from the Paris climate talks

Written by Jonathan Scott. Jonathan Scott is a law student and writer living in the United Kingdom.

It’s Friday evening, midway through the COP21 Climate Change Conference, and there’s an event for the young activists assembled to pressure their governments into action. It’s a spoken word night in an extraordinary location.

The old Gare Ornano in the 18th arrondissement opened in 1869, closed in 1934 and has been the site of La Recyclerie, an urban farm and vegan café, since 2014. Picture lots of exposed beams and a loft overlooking the main, cafeteria-style hall, with stations to scrap your food waste into the composter and no plastic allowed. There’s a queue outside, filled with Australian, Dutch and American activists arriving late. A man tries to sell fruit and beads without much luck. (I didn’t realize it that evening, but the garden outside is built in the old, unused train tracks running into the converted station, part of a network of reclaimed train corridors throughout Paris.) Read More

Getting closer to predicting algal blooms in 5 questions

In October 2015, GBF’s David Sweetnam met University of Toronto Associate Professor Maria Dittrich in Honey Harbour to help her research measuring the make-up of the sediment, and its capacity to release Phosphorous into the water.

It’s important research as freshwater with high Phosphorous is linked with an increased risk in toxic algal blooms.

We asked Professor Dittrich some questions about her research, and have included extra information marked GBF to explain some of the details.

Collage Corrected low res

How does your research support protecting and enhancing the waters of Georgian Bay?

Professor Dittrich:
Phosphorus is the typical limiting nutrient for primary production or algae growth in freshwater ecosystems, where high Phosphorus inputs are linked with an increased risk of algal blooms dominated by potentially harmful cyanobacteria (CHABs).
We are using field and modelling studies to predict sediment Phosphorus mobilization and its impact on water quality and the risk of CHABs, based on robust measures and a modelling framework that we have successfully developed and applied elsewhere. Read More