Selling the idea of interconnectedness and all it entails is one of the toughest pitches environmentally minded people have to make. Most people understand the connection between actions and consequences; not everyone acts upon that understanding. Living on an island fosters an acute sense of community and belonging, which can in turn lead to greater participation in stewardship. We’re somewhat self-contained. After all, my backyard is your backyard – quite literally.
The mission of the Salt Spring Water Preservation Society (WPS) is to protect and preserve the island’s drinking water; to promote the scientific study of and research into water resources; and to promote and increase the public awareness of the value of water resources. Currently the WPS are working on a project to develop a SSI freshwater catalogue and they are looking for volunteers. Whatever your background, you would be welcomed and put to good use; suitable training will be provided. Do you want to know where your fresh water comes from and goes to? You can help answer that question by helping with a live catalogue and online map that documents the island’s key water features.
The project was conceived and is being managed by WPS board member and geologist Dr. John Millson. He is coordinating the project with other agencies and organizations that contribute and/or benefit from the freshwater catalogue. He says, “with the help of volunteers we can establish island watershed freshwater baselines, see if/where there are watershed scale freshwater issues, utilize the data and information that is collected to improve our understanding of surface and subsurface freshwater resources and habitats, and support their management. The benefits to the island are numerous: we can further build our water communities via watershed stewardship programs, further educate these communities, and (if successful) export lessons learned to other places!” The Salt Spring Island watershed map is available here.
How can you help? It could be as simple as recording and sharing your observations as you walk along your favorite trail throughout the seasons. Answer questions such as – what’s going on in the creek or spring near you? Does it flow year round? Are there changes from month to month or year to year? Do you see any conflicts between man and nature? If you have a science background you could help train volunteers, measure mineral and turbidity levels, and/or gather and interpret data. If you would rather park the walking shoes and do data entry, there’s that too. If you don’t have time for hands-on work, the society invites funding, which would help them replace monitoring and measuring equipment and support a (web-based) catalogue system accessible to the entire community.
Most people on Salt Spring are acutely aware that our drinking water is limited and precious. Threats to its supply and potability come from climate change, pollution, overuse, toxic blooms, surface runoff and more… The Water Preservation Society actively encourages freshwater stewardship and education. Become a part of this worthy mission! Contact John Millson for more information.
As Jacques Cousteau said, “if there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”