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Healthy Fish, Healthy People: The Link Between Drinking Water Quality and the Health of Freshwater Habitats.
March 31, 2016

This blog post is the second of a three-part Swim, Drink, Fish series. The focus of this blog post is Drink.

It often surprises me how little we make the connection between watershed health and drinking water quality.

When we hear about local freshwater habitats being negatively impacted by pollution, what does this mean to us? If we hear about fish growing extra appendages, becoming sterile, or reaching sexual maturity early because of birth control in their ecosystem, do we think about what this means for the water we drink?

Often, if we think about it, it’s not frequently enough. I forget it sometimes, too – that the health of my watershed is the health of my drinking water.

Nature’s Filter

Supporting healthy fish habitats supports healthy drinking water, enhances ecosystem health, and supports diverse wildlife populations.

Great White Egret drinking water from a lake

Healthy habitats – ones that support fish and wildlife – correspond to healthy drinking water.

Nature’s figured out ways of cleaning and replenishing the water that we, and all species, need to survive. Forests, grasslands, and wetlands – in short, biodiverse natural habitats – do more than support fish, amphibians, reptiles, and insect populations. Their presence acts as a natural water filter, ensuring pollution in rainwater is scrubbed and the speed of water slowed before entering groundwater reserves. That newly cleaned groundwater becomes a resource that we rely on for agriculture, drinking water, industry, recreation, and more.

Contributing to projects dedicated to habitat restoration, forest protection, and wetland rehabilitation help ensure that nature’s water filters are protected and, indirectly, that the water you drink is safe everyday.

It’s easier to understand if you think of a visual example, like microplastics.

Recall that microplastics are buoyant in the water column, where they sit and attract toxins, before being consumed by some species, and move up the food chain.

In an ecosystem with high volumes of plastic pollution, we know that fish often carry high plastic loads. These fish may be consumed by a larger fish or bird, exposing it to plastic pollution. Or the tiny microplastics pass through drinking water filtration systems, and we drink it.


Swimming the World’s Water Paradises
March 18, 2016

This blog post is the first of a 3-part Swim, Drink, Fish series. The focus of this blog post is Swim.

There is nothing we crave more in the snowy, frigid winters in Canada than swimming in crisp blue water.

For those of you thinking of a spring getaway, we want to help you find some of our planet’s hidden gems. Read on for tips on what to do when you arrive and how to make sure you protect the water and its many inhabitants.

1. Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand

This lake is the third-largest in New Zealand and (Harry Potter fans take note) shaped like a lightning bolt.  It’s bordered on all sides by tall mountains, and the basin in which it sits was carved by a glacier. The lake boasts year-round trout fishing and the two islands in the centre, named Pig and Pigeon, are popular for camping.

Pig Island and Pigeon Island on Lake Wakatipu, NZ

Photo Credit: Loic Lagarde

Respecting The Beach

During the rainy season, Lake Wakatipu is at threat of flooding. Fire is the biggest threat to the Pig and Pigeon Islands, generally due to open fires from campers. If you’re staying on the island, practice fire safety. Remember also not to take vegetation or debris from the site and, of course, don’t feed the animals.


The Case For Clean Water
March 3, 2016

“Dwindling water supplies are a greater risk to businesses than oil running out, a report for investors has warned,” The Guardian, 2009.

“Companies that treat pressing water risks as a strategic challenge will be far better positioned in future,” Mindy Lubber, CERES’ president and Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute.

Water Management - Iowa State University

Why Businesses Need to Invest in Water Management and Protection.


It’s no secret that demonstrating a commitment to the environment is good for business.


Sunscreen That’s Good For You And The Corals, Too
February 19, 2016

You wear sunscreen when you go outside to protect your skin. You reapply after you take a dip in the ocean or lake because the sunscreen has washed off. Even underwater, you aren’t protected from the sun’s rays: up to 70% of UV intensity hits your skin when you’re swimming in waters where you can still see light. Thank goodness for sunscreen, right?

For you, yes. But that sunscreen that’s protecting your skin might actually be extremely harmful to the plants and animals you’re sharing the ocean with.

A 2015 study conducted in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands, indicates that certain compounds in a number of popular brands of sunscreen – including products from Banana Boat, Coppertone, and Neutrogena – are leading to increased instances of coral bleaching among these important nursery habitats.

Coral Reef at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge


Welcoming Our Latest Affiliate: Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper
February 8, 2016

We are excited to welcome Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper to the Swim Guide!


Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is promoting swimmable, drinkable, fishable water through a number of community-based initiatives that work to restore valuable fish and wildlife habitat, improve public access through greenways, and remove pollution from our watersheds. 

Not even 30 years ago, the future of the Buffalo River was anything but bright. But through the hard work and dedication of this Riverkeeper throughout the 1990s and 2000s, the health of the Buffalo River has improved dramatically – and we’re so proud to work with an affiliate like this.