Freshwater Future Canada Blog

Freshwater Weekly 16/11/17

This week: what makes the Great Lakes so great + support us by shopping Amazon + Canadian Great Lakes Day + Wisconsin repeals ban on sulfide mining.


We all know the Great Lakes contain 20% of the Earth’s fresh water, and we all have our own favorite spots around the basin that make the Great Lakes so special for each of us, but what else makes the Great Lakes so great? Here’s a great 4-minute video on the incredible natural wonder of these lakes, and the importance of protecting them.


If you shop on Amazon, you can help protect lakes, rivers, wetlands, and shorelines all around the Great Lakes just by starting at Amazon Smile. Shoppers can designate a charity to receive a percentage of every purchase they make, so your holiday shopping supports our binational work at Freshwater Future! It’s quick and easy to sign up. Just start at Amazon Smile, and look for us as Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Network and Fund, Inc. (our legal name).


Next week, leaders from the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region will gather in Ottawa to advocate for increased investment and programming to protect the waters in our Great Lakes. Tony Maas—on behalf of our sister organization Freshwater Future—was instrumental in developing this event, and will be in attendance. You can learn more about Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Parliament Hill Day here.


Environmental groups and activists—including Freshwater Future and supporters like you—fought long and hard to maintain Wisconsin’s popular “Prove It First” law, which has effectively acted as a moratorium on sulfide mining in the state since 1998. Unfortunately, the Wisconsin State Senate passed a bill last week that repeals the law, removing the only formidable barrier to establishing new sulfide mines there. Governor Walker is expected to sign the bill. Our sister organization, Freshwater Future, will continue to keep tabs on mining in Wisconsin as the effects of this bill play out in the coming months.

Freshwater Weekly 9/11/17

This week:  proposed US laws could threaten Canadian waters + Lake Erie algae watch + coaching & funding for grassroots groups.

Two pending bills at the state and federal level in the United States could significantly weaken existing ballast water protections, putting US and Canadian waters at risk.

Ships use ballast water to provide stability and balance while in transit, and invasive species like Zebra Mussels got into the Great Lakes by hitching a ride as ships discharged ballast into new waters.  

Canada has adopted international standards to protect our waters from these hitch-hiking species, but the US has its own standards—and given that we share our Great Lakes with the US, we need laws on both sides of the border to be strong.

Check out the work of our sister organization, Freshwater Future, on this important issue.


Algae season is over, and it was a pretty bad one. On a scale of 1 to 10, this year’s bloom was an 8, which is classified as severe. While not as toxic as some years, the toxic algal bloom covered an area of 2590 square kilometers from Toledo to the Ontario coast.

Progress toward reducing the runoff pollution that fuels these annual algal blooms has been slow, and it’s going to take stronger, more urgent action to clean up Lake Erie. Freshwater Future is working hard to make sure that governments, cities, and farmers are doing their part to protect the drinking water source for 11 million Canadians and Americans.


Coaching is rated as the most effective tool for nonprofit leaders to develop their skills and strengthen their organizations, but there’s not always room in the budget for it. That’s why we offer our customized consulting services at grant-subsidized rates to Freshwater Future members. We still have funding available for 2017! Whether you need a comprehensive strategic plan or a partner to help you think through a tough decision, we can help. Contact us today to get started: 647-749-9472 or [email protected].

Freshwater Weekly 2/11/17

This week:  the link between fall leaves & water quality + funding for stewardship & restoration.


If you live in an urban or suburban area, there’s something really simple you can do this fall to protect the waters in your Great Lakes community: keep fallen leaves out of storm drains.

As leaves that fall on streets and accumulate in storm drains decompose, they release nitrogen and phosphorus into the watershed. An excess of these nutrients can contribute to harmful algal blooms like those that plague Lake Erie each summer.

To keep leaves out of storm drains, you can mulch them right into your lawn with your lawnmower. The nitrogen and phosphorus of the decomposing leaves will fertilize your grass, leaving you with stronger turf that will ultimately help to absorb more runoff pollution. Or gather your leaves into a compost pile and use them in the spring to mulch and fertilize your garden beds. Whatever you do with your leaves, don’t trash them, don’t burn them, and don’t let them clog up the storm drains!


Groups in Ontario working on stewardship or restoration may be interested in applying for funding under the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s (MNRF’s) Land Stewardship and Habitat Restoration Program (LSHRP). With a deadline of November 30, 2017, this fund supports on-the-ground projects in habitat enhancements and ecological restoration to advance Ontario’s biodiversity conservation objectives at a landscape level. Note that applications must be submitted through the Stewardship Portal; if you don’t already have an account, processing time for new accounts can take up to 5 business days.

Freshwater Weekly 26/10/17

This week:  what’s your water vision? + a plan to stop Asian carp + Lake Erie algae watch.


For the past month, Freshwater Future staff members have been traveling around the Great Lakes to learn what water means to residents and what we all envision for the future. We’ve been hearing what Great Lakes residents want for their water—including drinking water—and what gets in the way of achieving that vision. That input is helping to shape a Water Vision for the Great Lakes.

As we’ve met with residents throughout the region, it’s been encouraging to see how quickly common themes emerge. At each meeting, we asked people to draw or write about their vision for water. This week on our blog we’re sharing some examples of what we’re seeing and hearing, one of which is pictured above.

What’s your vision for water? Reply to this email, or share it with us on Facebook or Twitter.


The recently-released Brandon Road Study details promising increased protections that would significantly decrease the possibility of invasive carp entering the Great Lakes. However, if the option recommended by the Corps is implemented, there is still an estimated 13% chance that Asian carp will breach the Brandon Road lock and dam and swim through the Chicago waterways to Lake Michigan.

At Freshwater Future Canada, we believe that the best plan for preventing the spread of Asian carp is to restore the natural divide between the Mississippi River Basin and the Great Lakes by closing the Brandon Road passageway. You can learn more at our sister organization, Freshwater Future.


The toxic algal blooms have finally cleared out of Lake Erie’s western basin, except in a few localized spots. However, progress toward reducing the runoff pollution that fuels these annual algal blooms has been slow, and no jurisdiction around Lake Erie has policies in place that fully address the critical issues that could prevent the blooms.

Tony Maas, who works out of our Toronto office, was a guest on the Mike Nowak Show last weekend to talk about the need for stronger action to clean up the lake. You can listen to that segment here. In the meantime, we’ll keep working for better solutions, and we’ll keep you updated on our progress.

A Vision for the Future of Water

For the past month, Freshwater Future staff members have been traveling around the Great Lakes to learn what water means to residents and what we all envision for the future. Living in the Great Lakes region, we are surrounded by lakes, rivers, wetlands, and shorelines. Yet daily there are threats to our waters. Community voices are often left out of the discussions and planning for solutions, including policies. Freshwater Future wants to change this.

We’ve been learning what Great Lakes residents envision for their water—not just drinking water—and what gets in the way of achieving that vision. That input is helping to shape a Water Vision for the Great Lakes that we’ll share with organizations and governments working on policies.

As we gather this anecdotal data from residents throughout the region, it’s been encouraging to see how quickly common themes emerge. At each meeting, we asked residents to draw or write about their vision for water. Below are some examples of what we’re seeing and hearing.