ACAP Saint John celebrates changes to city's waterways on World Water Day
Marsh Creek, once an 'industrialized, degraded stream," shows marked improvements, says executive director
It's World Water Day, an international observance to celebrate the importance of fresh water and to take a closer look at how to manage it sustainably.
Friday also marks 25 years that the Atlantic Coastal Action Program in Saint John has been monitoring waters in the city.
"It's really exciting to have that period of time as an environmental monitoring organization," said executive director Graeme Stewart-Robertson.
The estimated 14,000 data points ACAP Saint John has collected since 1993 are all available online in an open data source that "allows people to take a look at that history, to be a part of the science and the understanding of just how far we've come."
Stewart-Robertson cites Marsh Creek on the city's east side as an excellent example of how of how "an industrialized, degraded stream can begin its recovery."
Not only has Marsh Creek lost its raw sewage stench, it has seen marked improvements in virtually all measures, including particular contaminant levels, such as fecal coliform, and improved oxygen levels, which means it's becoming a more viable place to support larger fish populations, he said.
"That's something that I think a lot of us can identify with, especially as Maritimers, as Atlantic Canadians — feeling like our water bodies are full of life and are vibrant places within our community."
The creek "still has a way to go," but Stewart-Robertson remembers standing in the water years ago and seeing nothing but a "cloud of toilet paper and other unmentionables." Today, it's clear.
"So to see that improvement and then to see now it quantified scientifically as well is quite exciting," he said.
The city has also done a phenomenal job with its Clean, Safe Drinking Water project, said Stewart-Robertson.
But he hopes the 2019 World Water Day theme, Water for All, will inspire people to think about other areas for improvements, including access for recreational and cultural use, the mental and physical health benefits those can bring, as well as economic development.
"We are the estuary of the river, we are where the river meets the bay, where the second largest watershed on the eastern seaboard meets the highest tides in the world, where the river runs 'from swerve of shore to bend of bay,' to steal a James Joyce line," he said.
"And I think that seeing these improvements means we can rekindle our relationship with our waters throughout the city."
With files from Information Morning Saint John