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Expanding Our Roots

Increasing Water Education, Stewardship & Conservation in the Columbia Basin

Jody McInnes, Blue Lake Forest Education Society

"We never know the worth of water till the well is dry."
~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

Canadians have grown up in a water rich environment and have been spoiled with easy access to water.  Turn the tap on and fresh water flows forth in abundance, readily available for use.  People are generally aware of the water cycle and the importance of having clean, fresh water, but our ignorance to this issue kept concerns for water as a global concern without fear of local consequence.  Things have changed. 

Education is helping people understand that water is a finite resource and there is not an endless supply. The impacts of excessive water use and pollution to the water cycle are very real and being felt on a local as well as global scale. Water needs to be used responsibly to ensure that there is a sustainable supply for future users. 

With this increasing concern for water conservation, the Blue Lake Forest Education Society, with support from the Columbia Basin Trust, TD Friends of the Environment, RBC Blue Water Project, Kootenay Woodlot Education Society, BP Energy Company as well as many other organizations and individuals, has developed a project designed to teach water education, stewardship and conservation. 

In the Canadian Columbia Basin there is a significant demand placed on water from residential users, industry, recreation, development and other human activities. Introducing water education to students at an elementary level, that compliments existing water education programs, will help to increase awareness and understanding of water issues within the Columbia Basin in order to reduce future human impact.

This project will establish a demonstration site at the Blue Lake Centre and develop a water education curriculum that is directly linked to the BC curriculum. The goal of the curriculum is to increase knowledge and understanding of the importance of clean water, as well as the threats and human impacts related to the water cycle.

The demonstration site involves habitat and site restoration activities that increase conservation and decrease impacts to water quality. The demonstration site will also include installation of a rainwater collection and distribution system as well as installing low flow toilets, faucets and showerheads. Through these water conservation actions, the Society will reduce their own consumption of potable water by over 50% annually. 

The education component will encourage and inspire participants to make informed decisions about water use. This program is hands-on, experiential learning and participants will be encouraged to identify ways they can protect and conserve water, and decrease water pollution in their communities and homes.

Merv Anderson, on behalf of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Blue Water Project presents Jody McInnes, General Manager for Blue Lake Forest Education Society with a cheque for $4,500 in support of the Water Education, Stewardship, and Conservation project. Rick Allen, CBT Program Manager, Environment presents Jody McInnes, General Manager for Blue Lake Forest Education Society with a cheque for $16,000 for the Water Education, Stewardship and Conservation project.

In addition to water conservation, this program will educate students about native and non- native plant species in terms of their impacts to water use, pollution, soil and local ecosystems. They will have a chance to view and learn about various plant species found in the seven biogeoclimatic zones of the Columbia Basin, and understand the different water needs and ecosystem benefits of these species. Students will also take part in planting native species and removing invasive species.

Children and youth are a catalyst for change within their families and communities, and by educating and inspiring them now, a seed is planted for exponential growth in the future.

To support this project, or learn more about this and other Blue Lake programs, please contact the Blue Lake Office at 250-426-3676.


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