Drinking water is precious to all of us and essential for human life. In many urban communities, water can be easily taken for granted. We turn on the tap, flush the toilet, or take a shower and water comes out pretty much whenever we need it. Thanks to the Great Lakes, many of us in Southern Ontario have a seemingly endless supply of drinking water, which is made safe to drink at a municipal water treatment plant and piped to our homes.
However it’s not only us who rely on water. Birds, fish, frogs, snakes, turtles and other wildlife all rely on water, for some it’s their home. Our actions can have an effect on their home and the quality of the water in our local creeks and Lake Ontario. The water in Conservation Halton’s watershed from the three primary creeks (Bronte, Grindstone and Sixteen Mile) and the smaller urban creeks in Burlington and Oakville (like Tuck and Joshua’s) all flow into Lake Ontario, where we get our drinking water.
The effect our actions can have on water quality is the message behind one of Conservation Halton’s most popular environmental education programs, Stream of Dreams. Its mission is to educate communities about their watersheds, rivers and streams, while dazzling them with the charm of community art.
The program involves Conservation Halton staff teaching watershed education workshops to students from junior kindergarten to grade 8 that only rain goes down the drain. Students learn about the importance of properly discarding potential pollutants like motor oil and paint.
The students and teachers then paint wooden dreamfish, which are mounted on chain link fences at the school to serve as a reminder of the importance of protecting our sources of drinking water.
Since its launch in 2006, Conservation Halton staff has delivered the program and installed these magnificent murals to more than 32,422 people from eighty-nine schools and childcare centres, installing these magnificent murals across the watershed.
Stream of Dreams was founded in Burnaby, British Columbia and Conservation Halton was the first organization to bring it to Ontario. The great story about this children’s education program is that it was started by a mom Louise Towell and her daughter Chanel Lapierre. One day they were out for a walk along Byrne Creek and noticed toxic materials in the creek which poisoned and killed all aquatic life, including 5,000 fish. Someone had dumped toxic material into a storm drain in the Byrne Creek Watershed located in south-east Burnaby.
Louise, an artist, and Chanel wanted to do something to remember the fish and educate the local community at the same time about the impact they can have on water quality. They teamed up with Byrne Creek Streamkeepers (BCS), the volunteer group who monitors the creek, and their chair Joan Carne. Together they decided to symbolically bring the fish back to life by making 5,000 wooden fish, have them painted by local children, and put them on the fence to tell all who passed by that there is a creek in the neighbourhood.
Conservation Halton continues to deliver Stream of Dreams to schools and groups throughout the community to reinforce the impact we can have on our local environment. We wish to remind all residents to dispose of hazardous materials like paint, motor oil, household chemicals, and pharmaceuticals properly. Be sure to contact your local municipality for more information on where to take your Household Hazardous Waste, so you can keep it out of our streams, creeks, rivers and lakes.
Last modified: September 5, 2017