Sailboats zip across the sparkling lake under a brilliant blue sky. Children burst from the waters with goosebumps on their arms. The skate blades of bundled-up families glide over the ice. The East Kootenay’s Lake Windermere is a spectacular place for year-round recreation. But the value of the lake is deeper and broader than that.
By 2005, the surrounding community became concerned about the health of the lake. There were a lot of boats, pollution and development on its shores. What was happening to the water quality and the creatures that rely on it?
Since then, many residents around the lake have been working to support an ecologically healthy lake that supports recreation and traditional uses, high fish and wildlife values and economic prosperity in the region. These efforts are being spearheaded by the Lake Windermere Ambassadors.
The Lake Windermere Ambassadors are one of the groups highlighted in a new report: Community Engagement in Watershed Governance: Case Studies and Insights From the Upper Columbia River Basin. The report was produced by Living Lakes Canada, the Trust and the University of Victoria’s POLIS Water Sustainability Project.
The report explores current watershed governance issues, opportunities and successes in the Basin, in particular:
- the meaning of watershed governance
- local watershed protection and BC’s new Water Sustainability Act
- how four local watershed groups have contributed to water governance
- insights from the experiences of others in the Basin.
In addition to the Lake Windermere Ambassadors, the report examines these watershed groups:
- Kootenay Lake Partnership
- East Kootenay Integrated Lake Management Partnership
- Elk River Alliance.
To learn more, read the report here.
These are four among many community-driven groups and initiatives supporting watershed and ecological health and stewardship. Other examples include watershed groups, streamkeepers societies and regional district conservation funds.