In 2016 the Toronto Monitoring Hub began publishing data to Swim Guide for the first time from sites along the Lake Ontario shoreline in Toronto, Canada. Since then hundreds of volunteer citizen scientists, have helped to sample the Toronto shorelines and ensure that the water quality results are available on Swim Guide. Swim Drink Fish initiatives have been sampling in Toronto since as early as 2001 and since then the program has only continued to grow.
There are now three citizen science monitoring hubs in the Great Lakes region in Ontario:
- The Toronto Hub monitors sites on the Toronto shorelines of Lake Ontario. It is hosted by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, an initiative of Swim Drink Fish.
- The Zhiibaahaasing First Nation Hub monitors Lake Huron beaches in Zhiibaahaasing First Nation, on Manitoulin Island. It was established in the fall of 2018 and is hosted by Zhiibaahaasing First Nation.
- The Lake Erie – Niagara Hub monitors beaches in the Niagara region on the Lake Erie, North Shore. It was established in Spring 2019 and is hosted by the Niagara Coastal Community Collaborative.
In 2018 Swim Drink Fish received funding and support from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Great Lakes Protection Initiative. This project provides support to projects that are working with others to protect the Great Lakes and increasing public engagement through citizen science. Thanks to this funding, Swim Drink Fish is establishing six citizen science water monitoring hubs in the Great Lakes region, including the three listed above. A total of three of the hubs (including the Zhiibaahaasing First Nation hub) will be in First Nation communities.
A fourth hub that has been established on the west coast of Canada:
- The Vancouver Hub monitors sites in Vancouver, British Columbia on False Creek, Trout Lake, and Crab Park. It has been monitoring recreational water since summer 2018. It was established by Fraser Riverkeeper, another Swim Drink Fish initiative.
All the monitoring hubs collect recreational water quality data for sites that are important to their communities. Hubs sample these locations because they are used by the communities for swimming, boating, and ceremonial activities. There are three criteria for sample locations: they are not currently being monitored; they are important to their communities; and the site locations have suspected contamination or are vulnerable to contamination.
Making these results public gives communities direct access to the information they need to make an informed decision about getting in their local waters. It also allows citizen scientists to contribute to the education of their community on water quality. Long-term, Swim Drink Fish will develop a model that can be shared and replicated, allowing any community to set up and manage their own monitoring hub.
If you live in the neighbourhood of the one of the hubs, you can contact them or sign up to become a citizen scientist at the links below:
The Toronto Hub
The Lake Erie – Niagara Hub
The Zhiibaahaasing First Nation Hub
The Vancouver Hub
For the Toronto Hub, the Lake Erie – Niagara Hub and the Zhiibahaasing First Nation Hub:
This project was undertaken with financial support of the Government of Canada through the federal Department of Environment and Climate Change.
Ce projet a été realisé avec l’appui financier du gouvernement du Canada agissant par l’entremise du ministère fédéral de l’Environnement et du Changement climatique.