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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Towards a plastic-free Canada

The world is facing a global plastics crisis, and Canada is no exception. We are working towards a plastics-free environment by 2025.

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Lake Erie Alive

Every summer, Lake Erie is getting covered over by harmful, and sometimes toxic, algae blooms that make water unsafe for people and wildlife. We’re working reduce the amount of runoff pollution getting into the lake to stop the 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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Breaking News

Ontario's Endangered Species Act is being dismantled, even if the government would like you to believe otherwise.

These are trying times for our most vulnerable plants and animals in Ontario. New reports show that humans are destroying the planet’s biodiversity so quickly...

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The Ontario government just proposed gutting the Endangered Species Act. Here’s what you need to know:

In February, we raised the alarm that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) appeared to be the next environmental law in the Ontario government’s anti-environmental cross...

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Toledo, Ohio voted to give Lake Erie personhood and legal rights. What have we done for our Lake lately?

In February voters in Toledo, Ohio went to the polls, this time with a special referendum on the ballot: whether or not to give Lake...

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On the brink of extinction: Why we can't afford the Endangered Species Act to get any weaker

The world is facing a biodiversity crisis. The extinction rate is 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the natural rate. Literally dozens of species are...

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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.

Timeline of our success

2018

Canada and Ontario release their Lake Erie Action Plan to address algae blooms

The federal and Ontario governments released their plan to tackle Lake Erie’s damaging algae blooms, including several of our key recommendations. The plan includes over 120 actions that will be led by Government and agricultural groups, though more will be needed.

2017

Canada announces $44.84 Million Great Lakes Protection Initiative

In 2017 Canada announced almost $45 million dollars over five years to support the Great Lakes. We welcomed the commitment, but caution that this amount is not nearly enough to restore the health of the lakes that provide drinking water for millions of people.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

"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.

Keith Brooks

Programs Director

Kelsey Scarfone

Program Manager, Water

Rachel Kitchin

Communications Manager

Daniella Niddery

Engagement Manager

Join The Community

Change happens when people like you express your concern and make your voice heard. Join our email community to receive updates about Environmental Defence’s work and find ways you can help our efforts to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.