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'It could go downhill really quickly': Lake Erie Guardians keeping a close eye

Kingsville, Ont. -

A select group of like-minded citizen scientists are keeping a watchful eye on Lake Erie and it’s watershed. No experience needed.

50 people from high school students to retirees were recently chosen to become Lake Erie Guardians from more than 300 applicants earlier this year.

“It’s just amazing to see so many people really want to step up and take part and look after our water and our land really.”

Raj Gill with The Canadian Freshwater Alliance says volunteers began testing with kits at the end of May, noting they were provided by Water Rangers, a non-profit group that records and analyzes water data. “It’s wonderful to be able to have citizens join the monitoring process because it’s a big watershed.” Gill adds, “There’s a lot to cover, so it’s great to involve more people and to have more people learn about the water testing.”

8 different water qualities like temperature and dissolved oxygen are observed and recorded before being entered into the program’s data registry. The group is focused on the Lake Erie watershed, including areas along the St. Clair, Detroit, Thames and Grand rivers.

“Lake Erie definitely faces the most stress.”

Emelia Duguay, the Sustainable Development Coordinator at Water Rangers tells CTV News consistent measuring will give a data baseline that community decision makers can utilize. Duguay notes 2 million Ontarians live in the Lake Erie watershed and rely on its waters for their livelihoods on a daily basis.

“If water temperature increases by one degree, and then we see more algae blooms,” Duguay says “and then the different fish and other organisms are going to suffer accordingly. Humans are going to suffer and it just has a domino effect and it could down hill really quickly.”

“I can look at chlorine content. I can look at conductivity, alkalinity, hardness,”

Sarah Lockhart is one of the guardians, who has made it routine to visit Lake Erie with her family and test kit. “We need to look at nature and our impact on it.”

Lockhart says she hopes to teach her young daughter more about nature while bringing more research to the bigger picture. “Here I am just a mom, being like ‘Hey! Let’s put a data point in!”

Officials say testing will continue throughout the summer and fall. All of the results will be available on a public data platform.

Participants are anticipating future shoreline cleanups and tree planting events. More public opportunities to take part are expected later this year. More information can be found at Top Stories

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