'Citizen scientists' being trained to monitor water on Manitoulin Island

A non-profit group is working with a First Nation community in northeastern Ontario to become citizen scientists.

Tests are done weekly and posted online

Citizens are being trained to test water and share the results online. (North Saskatchewan River Keeper)

A non-profit group is working with a First Nation community in northeastern Ontario to become citizen scientists.

Swim Drink Fish, with funding from Environment Canada, is continuing to set up citizen science water monitoring hubs. The group is now working with Zhiibaahaasing First Nation, located at the western end of Manitoulin Island on the northshore of Lake Huron.

"We're trying to build a community of people around the Great Lakes who are working for swimmable, drinkable and fishable water," Mark Mattson, president of Swim Drink Fish said.

"One of the important building blocks to doing that is to create water literacy."

Mattson says it's important to get citizens who live and use the lake involved.

"We've really been able to build a movement of people which is really key politically, it's key for communities for people to know what's happening ," he said.

"Each community collects different data but the data that's most important that we collect is the data around whether the water is fit for recreational water use so that's around bacteria and particularly e-coli and the reason we focus on that is that it's a very cheap way, accessible way to train volunteers."

Mark Mattson is the president of Swim Drink Fish. (Paul Smith/CBC )

Once citizens collect the data, it's posted online or can be accessed by downloading the Swim Guide app.

"The data uploaded to that site. It's free," he said.

"That's the best way to share the information. It's transparent and it's powerful."

Mattson says the First Nation wants to share the water test results in Anishnaabemowin because water is so important culturally and spiritually to them.

With files from Kate Rutherford


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