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GSWA launches free, must-see five-part webinar series

Troubled Waters forum features five international experts

The health of our lakes depends on us. What we do now can protect them for both present and future generations.

The Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance’s mission is to protect, promote and advocate for healthy lake, river, creek and watershed water quality. A not-for-profit organization, it represents 24 individual groups, including 2 First Nations and 22 lake and creek Stewardships, speaking as one unified voice. 

“Each stewardship responds to its particular lake issues. We’re more of an umbrella group that responds to larger issues that aren’t necessarily specific to a particular lake,” explains Richard Witham, GSWA Chair.

One of the biggest issues GSWA has been researching and trying to address recently is road salt and its effects on aquatic environments and lake health. It is also concerned about invasive species—Eurasian milfoil, in particular, an invasive aquatic plant that grows fast, spreads easily and quickly crowds out other plant life. Another major issue is the increasing occurrences of blue green algae blooms associated with phosphorus levels and warming waters. Blue-green algae are a significant threat to public safety.

The GSWA responds to proposed legislation and local initiatives, submitting responses to the city on local subwatershed studies, such as those recently done on Junction Creek and Ramsey Lake. It also submits responses to the current government’s proposals regarding conservation authorities, the use of ministerial zoning orders and changes to the Environmental Protection Act. 

“The provincial government has been passing legislation and omnibus bills that are removing environmental protections and circumventing long established planning rules and regulations,” says Witham. 

The group has an upcoming, free virtual event featuring some of the nation’s top water experts. The Troubled Waters Webinar Series is being put on in partnership with the Vale Living with Lakes Centre and the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations. It begins Thursday, February 4th at 7:00 pm and runs weekly until Thursday, March 4th. The five-part series is being held on Zoom. Register here.  

“The presentations will be of interest to many people, both locally and provincially, who are concerned about the environment and the effects of climate change,” says Witham. “The five speakers are internationally known research scientists and are excellent at presenting complex topics in easily understood ways.” 

Here are the details:

Thursday, February 4th
7:00 – 8:30 pm
Dr. John Gunn
Imagine Sudbury in 2050: A Global Change Community

Dr. Gunn is a Tier-1 Canada Research Chair in Stressed Aquatic Systems. He is also the Director of the Vale Living with Lakes Centre and a Professor in the Department of Biology and School of the Environment at Laurentian University. Dr. Gunn will discuss the City of Greater Sudbury’s climate emergency declaration and commitment to being carbon neutral by 2050 and asks, “is this change possible? Let’s talk.”

Thursday, February 11th
7:00 – 8:30 pm
Dr. Norman Yan
From Fireplace to Pancakes: Solving the Widespread Problem of Calcium Decline in Ontario, Starting in Sugar Bushes

Dr. Yan recently retired from being a Professor in the Department of Biology at York University and directing the Yan Research Laboratory. He is currently Director at the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed and a Senior Research Fellow at the Vale Living with Lakes Centre at Laurentian University. Dr Yan will speak about widespread calcium decline in our lakes and sugar bushes and describe a successful, citizen-based, restoration project response.

Thursday, February 18th
7:00 – 8:30 pm
Dr. Sapna Sharma
On Thin Ice: Are Lakes Feeling the Heat? 

Dr. Sharma is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at York University and a York Research Chair in Global Change Biology. She is head of the Sharma Laboratory which is currently researching the impacts of multiple stressors on lake ice phenology, water temperatures, water quality, primary production and fish communities. Dr. Sharma will illustrate how the length of time a lake is frozen is a sensitive indicator of climate. She will discuss how this information recorded over time documents changes in climate and how future climate changes will affect lakes around the world.

Thursday, February 25th
7:00 – 8:30 pm 
Dr. Andrea Kirkwood
Using the Community Science Co-Production Model to Inform Lake Management

Dr. Kirkwood is an Associate Professor of Biology at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa. Her research group is fundamentally interested in the diversity and function of aquatic ecosystems along natural to increasingly human-modified landscapes. Dr. Kirkwood will describe a research co-production model involving local lake steward groups and associations that recognizes the value each partner brings to the design, collection, analysis and dissemination of water quality data.

Thursday, March 4th
7:00 – 8:30 pm
Dr. John Smol
The Power of the Past: Tracking Lake Ecosystem Changes in an Anthropocene World

Dr. Smol is the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, as well as a Professor at Queen’s University. He is an international leader in the field of paleolimnology, which uses the physical, chemical and biological information stored in lake sediments to track environmental and ecological change. His research leads to better understanding of the human impacts on aquatic ecosystems and better methods of understanding the effects of global warming. The work done by Dr. Smol and his team of researchers allows scientists to offer advice on improving lake management strategies.

Register now for this important and informative five-part series. For more information, visit the Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance.