Government announces Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding

Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Gabrielle Parent-Dolinar of Swim Drink Fish measure the water temperature at Sugarloaf Marina in Port Colborne Thursday. The Minister was being shown what the “citizen scientists” of the Swim Drink Fish program will be doing.

The Government of Canada has shown a commitment to help protect and restore freshwater resources across Canada with an announcement of funding for programs geared towards these goals of protection and restoration.

Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change made the announcement Thursday July 19/2018 at a press conference in Port Colborne.

Before making the announcement she outlined how important the Great Lakes are to our economy. She said that the Great Lakes are responsible for employing 31% of the Canadian and American workforce.

She outlined that the Great Lakes are an important asset to people for various industrial and recreational reasons. She noted that in Niagara, we are very reliant on the two Great Lakes the region borders on.

The Great Lakes have suffered many problems over the years, habitat degradation, algal blooms, chronic wasting disease, fluctuating water levels and more.

“I am really thrilled to be here with all of you to talk about what we are going to continue to do to protect the Great Lakes,” Minister McKenna said to the assembled guests, dignitaries. “The announcement is the Great Lakes Protection Initiative, $8.95 million dollars over four years for 36 projects.”

“These projects will help protect and restore the Great Lakes, the water quality, the eco system health,” she said.

“We are really lucky to have these organizations as partners,” she said. “I am really glad that we are partnering with you and the communities are partnering with you so you can do really important work that will help restore and protect the Great Lakes.”

One such project includes ALUS Canada which “invests in farmers and ranchers who are producing acres of clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat and other ecosystem services in communities across Canada.”

“ALUS Canada will be receiving $600,000 over three years to restore natural features on agricultural lands,” Minister McKenna said.

ALUS Canada CEO Bryan Gilvesy told the crowd that “the Great Lakes Protection Initiative is an important stride towards protecting our water quality in the Western Great Lakes.”

“Our program works by empowering farmers to provide effective solutions to some of the biggest environmental problems of the day,” he said.

“Water problems of the Great Lakes are a perfect examples of what we can tackle together with our community,” he said. “Our program is rooted in action and we are proud to marry that action with great research.”

“With this funding we will quickly establish 75 acres of an ALUS project in the Lake Erie Basin,” he said.

Project: Improving Lake Erie Water Quality through Restoration of Natural Features on Agricultural Lands

Proponent: ALUS Canada

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $600,000 over 3 years

Project description: This project will install wetland and other natural features on agricultural land to reduce nutrient runoff into streams. Monitoring at project sites and a simulation model will assess the effectiveness of similar projects in other locations. Monitoring and modelling will be used to assess the effectiveness of these features in reducing phosphorus pollution and in promoting uptake at a wider scale.

“Ultimately the Mayors of other communities will use these tools to understand the true value of natural infrastructure and the effectiveness and the cost efficiency they can achieve by working with farmers in preserving and protecting the waters.”

Another is Swim Drink Fish which operates seven initiatives working towards swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters in the Great Lakes and around the country.

“They will be receiving $1.8 million dollars over four years,” Minister McKenna said.

“This is a citizen lead initiative, citizens helping to moderate water quality,” she said. “How awesome is that?”

“Our goal is to establish a community monitoring initiative,” Krystyn Tully, Vice President Swim Drink Fish said. “We will be establishing beach water quality monitoring stations in six communities around the Great Lakes.”

“We are also going to develop the technology to insure that the communities receive the results as soon as we have it,” she said.

Project: The Great Lakes Communities Recreational Waters Monitoring Initiative

Proponent: Swim Drink Fish Canada

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $1,800,000 over 4 years

Project description: This project will engage members of the public in “citizen science”. Participants will contribute to the monitoring of Great Lakes water quality by collecting and analyzing samples from previously unmonitored local beaches to determine whether they are safe for swimming and other recreational use. The project will develop web-based tools to share water quality sampling results and other information with the public through the Swim Drink Fish Swim Guide app.

The Canadian Government has launched this partnership “because we value our nature, we value our water,” Minister McKenna said.

“The Government has made this commitment to you to continue to protect our water because it is the right thing to do for the environment and also the right thing to do for the economy.”

According to the Government of Canada website ( the priorities for the Great Lakes Protection Initiative are:

  • working with others to protect the Great Lakes
  • restoring Great Lakes Areas of Concern
  • preventing toxic and nuisance algae
  • assessing and enhancing the resilience of Great Lakes coastal wetlands
  • evaluating and identifying at risk nearshore waters
  • reducing releases of harmful chemicals
  • engaging Indigenous Peoples in addressing Great Lakes issues
  • increasing public engagement through citizen science

A complete list of the 36 funded projects can be found on the Government of Canada website: .