Thirty organizations, delivering projects in five countries, will share more than $4 million for programs that help protect watersheds and improve access to clean drinking water via RBC Blue Water Project’s leadership grants.
“Since we launched the RBC Blue Water Project in 2007, we have now provided funding to over 450 organizations around the world that care about protecting and preserving water,” said Gordon M. Nixon, president and CEO, RBC. “I congratulate this newest group of grant recipients. Their work is critical to the protection of the world’s valuable water resources, and we are proud to support them in their efforts.”
RBC’s 2011 funding will support a range of projects from wetland and shoreline restoration to water quality monitoring and sharing of sustainable water management practices in agricultural regions. More than 180 organizations applied for 2011 leadership grants.
“This is our fourth year of evaluating grant proposals, and our panel has never been more impressed with the quality of applications. We really are seeing the best of the world’s best organizations working to protect water,” said Rob de Loë, professor and University Research Chair in Water Policy and Governance, University of Waterloo, and chair of the Blue Water Project advisory panel. “This year, we were happy to see an increased number of collaborative projects between various organizations, more on-the-ground projects that will restore shorelines of rivers, streams and lakes and more initiatives to engage the agricultural community. I’m confident that our recipients will make a demonstrable difference in the health of their local watersheds.”
- Free the Children: A grant of $420,000 will fund the delivery of H2O 4U, a water-focused speaking tour that is offered to middle and high schools across Canada. Speakers will inspire and educate youth about the importance of clean water at home and around the world. An RBC Blue Water Project grant of $300,000 in 2009 helped Free the Children take this tour to over 100 schools.
- Tides Canada Initiatives Society/Waterlution: A grant of $200,000 will help Waterlution build on its “Future of Water” workshops, where 18-35 year olds explore critical and complex water management issues. A new “Hub Project” in five regions across Canada will allow workshop participants to put their learnings into action. An RBC Blue Water Project grant of $120,000 in 2008 helped Waterlution provide 40 workshops in 28 communities.
- Clean Annapolis River Project: A grant of $36,000 will fund field assessments and restoration plans for watercourse barriers on the Annapolis River and its tributaries. Culverts and dams are preventing the free migration of threatened fish species to critical habitats.
- Atlantic Coastal Action Program Cape Breton: A grant of $35,000 will help this organization monitor streams that are affected by development and land use as well as restoring the Salmon River and its tributaries.
- Comité Zone d’Interventions Prioritaires (ZIP) Alma-Jonquière: A grant of $240,000 will fund a community stewardship project, operating in 40 major watersheds in Quebec and expanding into New Brunswick. Volunteers are trained to monitor hundreds of rivers, collecting data for the identification and assessment of developing problems. Students from elementary school and up will be engaged through the Ministry of Education for New Brunswick.
- Fondation de la Faune du Quebec: A grant of $200,000 will help this organization develop and share water and habitat conservation best practices and raise awareness about sustainable agricultural practices with more than 500 agricultural producers in southern Quebec.
- Upper Thames River Conservation Authority: A grant of $120,000 will kick-start a Clean Water Project for individual rural farming and non-farming landowners, providing technical assistance and financial incentives for projects that will improve and protect ground and surface water quality, such as decommissioning unused wells, soil erosion control, clean water diversions around barnyards, woodland and wetland enhancement, tree planting, fuel storage and septic system upgrades.
- Lake Ontario Waterkeeper (LOW): A $200,000 grant helped LOW launch Swim Guide in June, 2011. Swim Guide is a free smartphone app that helps people locate the closest, cleanest beach for swimming, get directions, view photos, and share their experience through social networks. LOW used an RBC Blue Water Project grant of $200,000 in 2008 to create the Guide.
- Georgian Bay Forever: A grant of $100,000 will support the production of the ‘Eastern Georgian Bay Health Report’ for release in the summer of 2012. The report will outline the current conditions of the region from the Severn River to Killarney including ecological conditions, general threats, “hot spots” of special concern, and emerging issues. In addition, the report will identify knowledge gaps, research opportunities and detail local stewardship activities.
- Royal Ontario Museum: A $100,000 grant supported the delivery of the museum’s Water: The Exhibit display, providing an informative, dramatic, and educational experience about the importance of water to more than 125,000 visitors in six months.
- Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Foundation: A grant of $100,000 will help the George Richardson Park Project reduce levels of phosphorus entering Lake Simcoe with activities such as community tree planting and irrigation activities.
- One Change Foundation: A grant of $100,000 will help this organization mobilize Ottawa residents to take action on residential water waste. In collaboration with the City of Ottawa, volunteers and One Change staff will go door to door to distribute simple kits that show people how to detect and repair common toilet leaks.
- Hamilton Conservation Foundation: A grant of $90,000 will help the Foundation protect, enhance and restore environmentally significant natural areas and watercourses by educating and working one-on-one with landowners.
- Ottawa Riverkeeper: A grant of $75,000 will fund a 28-day, 90 kilometre exploration of crucial water issues in the Ottawa River watershed, in partnership with Canadian Geographic and the Canadian Canoe Foundation. The expedition will be broadcast online and the information collected will be used as part of the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper “Swim Drink Fish” application, also funded by an RBC Blue Water Project grant.
- Lower Trent Region Conservation Authority: A grant of $50,000 will support The Healthy Shorelines Clean Water Stewardship Program, which will raise awareness about the ecological health of the watershed through educational outreach to residents and landowners, including shoreline consultations, community workshops, demonstration projects and financial assistance to landowners to implement qualified projects.
- Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation: A grant of $225,000 will fund “Green Banks: Clear Waters”, a program to improve water quality in riparian areas in four south-central Manitoba conservation districts. A new riparian health assessment tool will help community-based watershed groups classify, analyze, and provide riparian health information to their stakeholders. This collaborative project also involves Agriculture Agri-Food Canada, Agri-Environment Service Branch and Manitoba Water Stewardship.
- Lake Winnipeg Foundation: A grant of $40,000 will support the Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping (SHIM) project that will provide baseline scientific information for shoreline management.
- Trout Unlimited Canada: A grant of $150,000 will enable this organization to increase riparian health, and improve water quality in the Drywood Creek Watershed system in southwest Alberta. Working in collaboration with Drywood-Yarrow Conservation Partnership and Southwest Alberta Conservation Partnership, agricultural producers will be engaged to protect sensitive riparian areas from cattle grazing by installing protective fencing and off-stream livestock watering systems.
- Bow River Basin Council: A grant of $40,000 will help the Council modify an existing computer program so it can simulate the effects of natural ecological processes and land uses on water quality, natural capital values, agricultural lands, municipal revenues, municipal operating costs, and natural areas. Municipalities and watershed management groups will use the information to identify optimum zoning strategies, planning and best practices.
- A.S.T.C. Science World Society: A grant of $300,000 will help Science World add a “Water Story” to its new 35,000 square foot interactive outdoor science park. The Water Story’s exhibits will include a wetland habitat, a cistern to illustrate rainwater capture for gardening and agriculture, an interactive outdoor stream table to demonstrate the benefits and risks of man-made reservoirs and dams, and a water infrastructure display to demonstrate where our water comes from and where it goes.
- Trout Unlimited Canada: A grant of $125,000 will help this organization complete a project that will restore and improve access to degraded fish habitats in six streams flowing into Qualicum Bay. RBC provided a grant of $75,000 in 2009 to cover the first phase of the program. This project is a collaboration between Trout Unlimited, Nile Creek Enhancement Society and Vancouver Island University.
- Fraser Valley Conservancy: A grant of $120,000 will fund a collaborative project between the Conservancy, the Chilliwack River Action Committee and the City of Abbotsford to enhance and protect over fifty acres of land, restore over ten acres, and increase the biological function and improve wildlife habitats at four sites within the Fraser River Watershed.
- Pacific Salmon Foundation: A grant of $70,000 will help the Foundation launch ‘Salmon-Safe B.C.’, a farm certification program to protect Salmon by transforming land management practices To earn Salmon-Safe certification, farms are required to improve irrigation efficiency, reduce run-off and wind erosion, protect wildlife habitat, cultivate ecological compensation areas to enhance native biodiversity, as well as reduce or eliminate the use of harmful pesticides.
Organizations in the United States, Bahamas, and Brazil also received grants.