Sharing the Lake Windermere Project

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Sharing the Lake Windermere Project

East Kootenays, CanadaInvermere, Canada
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Approximately 20 words left (160 characters).

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Lake Windermere is surrounded by the Columbia wetlands and forms the headwaters of the Columbia River, which provides freshwater support for 15 million people in the Pacific Northwest. Wildsight developed the Lake Windermere Project because of increasing development pressures impacting the quality of water in the region and the collapse of the burbot fishery. The solution was to engage community members and develop a template that would create a water stewardship culture and ethic in the Columbia Basin. The emphasis was on the protection and enhancement of water quality by means of inter-agency cooperation, scientific monitoring, public education and engagement.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Share the successes of the Lake Windermere Project which was formed in response to growing public demand for an ongoing, comprehensive water stewardship initiative that would engage government and the public to protect and enhance both the lake and surrounding watershed. The focus of the project was on education, stakeholder engagement, water quality monitoring and restoration. The project had a high degree of inter-agency cooperation and represented more than a dozen partners, including all levels of government, First Nations, area NGOs and the public. Specific actions included: providing a weekly educational series in local newspapers, training volunteer water monitors who learned how to take scientifically accredited water samples, partnering with the Canadian Cancer Society to raise awareness about the impacts of pesticides on water and human health, and non-point pollution reduction. Connecting the science with the agents of change - community members — is our continued goal.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Wildsight's small BC-based community project was successfully used as a model for water stewardship in BC and across Canada. Wildsight, the Lake Winnipeg Foundation and Global Nature Fund have collaborated to create Living Lakes Network Canada, a national network linking science to action for water stewardship across the country. The network has an advisory group of ten of Canada’s top water experts and already has 8 members from the Skeena watershed, Lake Huron, Lake Winnipeg, Federation of Ontario Cottage Owners, Nature Canada, BC Lake Stewardship Society and the Athabasca watershed. We recently hosted our first annual Living Lakes Network Canada conference in Winnipeg to bring attention and joint solutions to the eutrophication problem of the world’s 10th largest fresh water lake. We were able to invite international Living Lakes members from the European Union who provided a very tangible example to conference delegates of eutrophication resolution and restoration of Lake Constance, a lake in Europe whose shores lie in three countries. Another conference outcome was the development of the “Save Lake Winnipeg Coalition” who requested that we present the Lake Windermere Project and Ambassadors concept. We hope to replicate this model throughout BC and Canada.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Our peers are grassroots citizen-based water stewardship groups, higher-level environmental NGOs, government employees at municipal, provincial, federal and First Nations levels, scientists and academics. Our competitors are other environmental NGOs who compete for the same small pot of charitable donations and funds available in BC. What sets us apart is that we can operate at all levels,municipal, provincial, nationally and internationally which means that we are flexible have more funding sources available to us and we can make projects work where we get the most traction. We also have a product that took us ten years to build, pilot, test and refine. We are currently viewed as experts in our field of citizen-based science training and community engagement.We have been invite

Founding Story

The “Aha” moment for us was when we realized that if we want to make a difference in our watershed we could not do it alone. We could not continue to operate in our silo with our traditional partners. Instead, we would have to build bridges across to the various sectors of society. We decided to foster alliances between environmental groups, chambers of commerce, the Canadian Cancer society, local rotary clubs, all levels of government and First Nations. Without this type of non- traditional collaboration the success of the Lake Windermere Project would not have reached fruition. There is no, “them and us: there is “we” and “we” were able to get it done.
About You
About You
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Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name


Organization Country

, BC, Invermere

Country where this solution is creating social impact

, BC, East Kootenays

Region in BC where your solution creates social impact

Kootenay Rockies, Columbia Basin.

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for more than 5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two

Cost, Quality.

Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

Public concern for healthy, functioning watersheds continues to rise, while governments reduce their responsibility for monitoring, assessing, and managing these same resources while the implications to watershed health from climate change are daunting. Community based water monitoring has become a trusted avenue for evaluating watershed health on a local level. Our goal is to support communities and groups in BC and across Canada who have expressed the need for assistance in designing and implementing watershed monitoring programs. Water experts in Canada unanimously support the need for standardizing water monitoring, classification and rehabilitation methods. Connecting the science with the agents of change, community members—is our continued goal.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

We have successfully replicated stewardship components of the Lake Windermere Project on 9 other lakes in the East Kootenay Region, and are currently assisting with projects for Kootenay Lake, Slocan Lake and the South Basin of Lake Winnipeg. We have assisted with the grassroots creation of water stewardship programming for the Crowsnest Conservation Society, Friends of Kootenay Lake and Slocan Lake Stewardship Society.

Locally, our water stewardship work has led to science-based direction for lake management planning, and resulted in engagement from a variety of community sectors that otherwise would not align themselves with an environmental initiative. It has created a water stewardship dialogue within our community across all sectors.

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

Our projected impact is to spread our successes throughout Canada, for both community-based water stewardship and watershed-scale governance. Through Living Lakes Canada, we will share our experiences, building a knowledge base of water stewardship principles. Specifically in BC, as the province undergoes the modernization of its Water Act, we will work with communities to become better engaged in the solutions surrounding how and where decisions are made with respect to water management and water stewardship.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Potential barriers include lack of political will to implement key water based management opportunities. Community groups and coalitions can put tremendous resources into collecting and assessing watershed or foreshore health, and if the political will does not exist to implement the results at the municipal, provincial or federal level, these initiatives can get lost.

One key lesson from our project has been that we must engage our political leaders from the beginning and continuously throughout the process. This builds trust and commitment to follow through on the recommendations and outcomes.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

We will increase community-based training opportunities for applied watershed monitoring by building a capacity for delivering C

Task 2

We will create a watershed health reporting template that can be used by water stewardship groups to communicate their monitorin

Task 3

We will create a watershed stewardship manual, outlining the key pieces to engagement, monitoring and implementation so that com

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

We will deliver CABIN field training opportunities for 20 groups in BC.

Task 2

We will host a Columbia-Basin wide celebration of water and our watershed, engaging all communities within the Basin and establi

Task 3

We will bring the BC example further afield by hosting the second annual Living Lakes Canada conference at Lake Huron.

Tell us about your partnerships

We have partnerships at international, national, provincial, regional, and municipal levels. They include First Nations, all levels of government, NGOs, universities, colleges and water-related think tanks. We currently have over 18 partners including: Polis Project on Ecological Governance; Canada Water Week; Kootenay Lake Partnership; Forum for Leadership On Water); Simon Fraser Adaptation to Climate Change Team; Canadian Indigenous Environmental Resources; WWF –Canada Freshwater program; Canadian Columbia River Intertribal Fisheries Commission.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?

Targeted populations are lake stewardship groups throughout BC and Canada. We specifically target lake groups working to protect lakes with high ecological value, are experiencing a high degree of threat, and require community engagement support. Specific areas include the Skeena Watershed, the Columbia Basin, Athabasca Watershed and Lake Winnipeg Watershed.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

Living Lakes Canada is adaptive and can expand or contract our program deliverables based on funding. We have strong partnerships throughout Canada and internationally. The Ambassadors benefit from the broad range of stakeholders participating as our Board of Directors. Though Directors come from a variety of backgrounds, all share the common goal of protecting the lake as a community asset. Our success hinges on a dedicated core group of volunteers and strong relationships with local government and provincial environment agencies. We also benefit from tools and techniques transferred as a legacy of the Lake Windermere Project, and continued mentorship from the Project coordinator.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list