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.
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.
Keep 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.
Make Ontario #LessSalty
Too much road salt is going on our streets and sidewalks during the winter. And it’s harming our freshwater ecosystems. We’re working with partner organizations, and government and industry, to cut back on the salt.
A Strong Canada-Ontario Agreement for the Great Lakes
The Ontario and federal governments are working on a new joint plan to protect the Great Lakes. We’re working to ensure that the plan is a strong one.
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.
Make Ontario #LessSalty: Why Ontario needs a low (road) salt diet to save our lakes and rivers
This winter, a sneaky, white culprit right under our feet is assaulting our rivers and lakes. Road salt is applied to roads, sidewalks, walkways and parking...Learn More
What’s in store for 2020? Here are our predictions for next year’s biggest environmental news stories
2019 was a big year for environmental news. Here’s a quick recap: UN scientists took off the gloves on their warnings to us about the risks...Learn More
Now what? Next steps for water bottling in Ontario
Update: on December 23, 2019, the Ontario government announced that the moratorium on new or expanded water bottling permits was extended until October 1, 2020. Last...Learn More
The good, bad and the ugly of how Ontario Bill 132 weakens accountability for polluters
Earlier this month, we rang the alarm bells that sweeping changes in Bill 132— an omnibus bill that’s currently moving through the Ontario legislature—could have...Learn More
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.