THE PROBLEM

The Great Lakes hold over 20 per cent of the world’s surface freshwater, provide drinking water for millions, support billion dollar economies and are the foundation of the regional ecosystem. Pollution and development threats are putting them at risk.

The Solution

To help protect human health, the economy, and our environment, we have to keep our waters clean and safe. That means governments need to take action to protect the lakes, and businesses need to change their practices, in order to safeguard the Great Lakes and our other precious water sources.

Cash it! Don’t trash it

Plastic pollution is out of control in the Great Lakes. In Ontario, we’re working to put a price on plastic bottles to keep them out of the environment and increase recycling rates.

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Strengthening Great Lakes protection

The Great Lakes are under greater threat than ever before. To protect the lakes, we are working with communities and groups to help implement Ontario’s Great Lakes Protection Act.

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Reducing harmful algal blooms

Every summer, more and more parts of the Great Lakes are being covered over by harmful and toxic algal blooms, making water unsafe for people and wildlife. We’re working to ensure Ontario reduces phosphorus pollution into the lakes to stop these harmful blooms before they start.

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Blue Flag Beach Certification

When you see a Blue Flag flying, you know a beach or marina is clean and accessible, has great water quality, meets high safety standards; and is working to protect local shorelines and ecosystems.

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Timeline of our success

2008

Lake Simcoe Protection Act  passes

Along with partners, we raised awareness about the need for tighter controls on development projects impacting Lake Simcoe. The result: a Private Member’s Bill was introduced, leading to the passage of the Lake Simcoe Protection Act.

2011

Water Conservation and Opportunities Act  passes

As a member of the Ontario Water Conservation Alliance, we contributed to the development and passage of the Water Conservation and Opportunities Act in Ontario.

2012

Bi-national Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) signed

We played a role in getting this Canada-U.S. agreement signed by coordinating the response from NGOs, participating in content development, and helping to keep negotiations on track.

2012

Ontario’s Great lakes Strategy completed

Working with other NGOs, we consulted the province on what it should include in its Great Lake Strategy. The strategy contains Ontario’s vision, goals and priorities to help restore, protect, and conserve the Great Lakes.

2014

Canada-Ontario Agreement finalized

We worked with other groups to call on the federal and Ontario governments to sign a new Canada-Ontario Agreement (COA). The agreement ensures coordinated efforts by both levels of government to protect the Great Lakes basin

2014

Ontario’s interbasin transfer regulations finalized

Along with other groups, we helped ensure the province fulfilled its commitment under an international agreement on water diversions. In December, Ontario announced a new regulation halting water diversions between Great Lakes watersheds.

2015

The Great Lakes Protection Act  passes

In October, Ontario passed a strengthened Great Lakes Protection Act, which included several of our recommendations, to better protect the waters millions of Ontarians depend on to drink, work, and play.

2016

Ontario proposes two-year ban on new water bottling operations

We, along with several other concerned organizations and groups, raised the alarm bell about the impact water bottling companies were having on the environment and communities’ access to drinking water. In response, in October, the Ontario government proposed changes to the rules for water bottlers, including a two-year ban on new and expanded operations.

Breaking News

Cutting U.S. Great Lakes funding won’t make the lakes great again

This week, advocates for the Great Lakes are gathering in Washington to educate legislators about the benefits of Great Lakes programs. Although this is an...

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Coca-Cola backs Scottish deposit return on plastic bottles. Will it do the same in Ontario?

That’s the question after the beverage company recently announced its support for a deposit return program in Scotland.The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland...

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Higher fees for water bottlers: a good step, but more is needed

Last fall, the bottled water industry in Ontario came under fire, in part because of the outrageously low fees they pay to extract the province’s groundwater....

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10,000 (tonne) reasons why Ontario needs a deposit on plastic bottles

How much plastic pollution do you think is in the Great Lakes? The numbers may shock you.Nearly 80 per cent of the litter in the...

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WHAT YOU CAN DO

Big problems require big solutions, and all of us can help make the changes we want to see. By signing petitions and attending events, you can make your voice heard and help to affect change.

"I am the 7th generation of a farming family. When I was a young girl, my Grandpa showed me a spring that he and his grandfather had been to as boys, when planting or working the farm. He taught me to look after that spring, the water and the land for my grandchildren. I have a duty to protect that water. And that’s why Environmental Defence’s work to protect our freshwater is so important."

-- Kim Sytsma

MEET THE TEAM

At Environmental Defence, we educate the public about a host of environmental issues, work with business and government leaders to advise on policy decisions and mobilize Canadians to create the cleaner, greener more prosperous country we’re striving for. Meet the team who works on Water.

Ashley Wallis

Program Manager, Water

Brett Tryon

Program Manager, Blue Flag

Join The Community

Change happens when people like you express your concern and make your voice heard. Join our online community of folks concerned about protecting Canada’s freshwater. We will send you a quarterly update on our campaigns, invitations to join us at events and opportunities for you to take action.

As a subscriber to Environmental Defence, you will receive our monthly Defender News - a roundup of our biggest news stories of the month. You can also receive quarterly updates from our team specific campaign areas tailored to your interests.

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