By Julia Pepler
On a cloudy Wednesday, July 24, the Fraser Riverkeeper team was joined by a group of almost 20 BroadbandTV (BBTV) employees for a morning on Granville Island. This day gave us a chance to get to know each other, connect with the waters that flow through False Creek and beyond, and introduce the BBTV volunteers to citizen science.
Molly O’Ray, our Vancouver Program Manager, started us out with a Water Literacy Workshop, where she introduced the various programs and goals of Swim Drink Fish. Before long, the group of 20 divided to tackle two hands-on activities.
Our Summer Outreach Coordinator, Emmalee Biebl, created a detailed photo scavenger hunt that had the groups exploring Granville Island’s waterways and history. To acquire points the BBTV volunteers dove into water-based topics such as combined sewage overflows and pollution reporting, searching for Granville Island’s fresh-water body, and posing in lifejackets.
After running around the island, the teams helped Katie Moore, the Vancouver Water Monitoring Coordinator, with water monitoring at our Brokers’ Bay location. They took environmental observations, tallied how many recreational water users were on the water, made note of observed wildlife, and tallied any garbage they found in the water. The sun broke through the clouds in time for Katie and the volunteers to collect water samples. The results from their work were all published on our website and Swim Guide the following day for the public to access.
After connecting with the water all morning, we asked the volunteers to share their Watermarks with us. A Watermark is “a true story about you and a body of water. Your story can be a memory, experience or moment about a time you connected with a body of water.” We know that people will protect what they love, so hearing about the various ways the BBTV volunteers have come to build a relationship with water helps us ignite their passion to protect it.
Marlyse Joe, a Trust and Safety Specialist at BBTV, shared her Watermark about her favourite spot on the water, saying,
“My Watermark is Cadboro Bay. This waterbody symbolizes childhood and youth to me. Various field trips, beach days, and get-togethers happened on this waterbody. In 2017, I had the humbling opportunity to participate in a beach cleanup with the Surfrider Foundation. It was a full-circle feeling giving back to the community/waterbody that has provided so many memories for me.”
Kevin Sawczuk from BBTV, shared his Watermark about learning the value of drinking water, saying,
“I lived and still have a property on Kootenay Lake. Drinking water is pumped from the lake. The water inlet got clogged and my Dad, my Doberman, and I were in a canoe trying to fix it. Of course, the dog tipped the canoe and we all ended up in the water!”
We had a great day learning from the BBTV volunteers about their unique stories and showing them how we work to protect swimmable, drinkable, fishable water. The team was dedicated to collecting data that can help us understand how people recreate in False Creek, track pollution over time, and provide the public with up-to-date water quality information. We look forward to crossing paths with them in the future and welcoming them on as citizen scientists again.
If you are interested in volunteering with the Vancouver Water Monitoring Program as a citizen scientist, learn about the program and sign up here.