Lakes and Rivers

World Water Day | March 22

March 22 is World Water Day --a chance to talk about why water connects all of us. This year’s theme is “Leveraging Water for Peace,”, focusing on the water crisis that many communities face throughout the world. 

Many links exist between water, health and the overall resilience of the Halifax region. A lack of clean water is a serious problem. With higher temperatures and more heat waves expected as part of climate change, we will likely face issues of reduced water quality and quantity more often, so we need to take action. 

Water management in the municipality

LakeWatchers is our community-based lake monitoring program. We gather water quality data to help us understand the health of our lakes and how they are changing. The program brings volunteers together with consultants to conduct community-driven science with the goal of collecting data that will be used to promote sustainable development in the municipality.

Canines for Clean Water addresses the health impacts of bacteria and parasites from animal waste on our watershed. The municipality encourages pet owners to take the “Clean Water Pledge” to respect on-leash and off-leash areas and to safely dispose of any waste produced by their pets.

Municipal employees regularly test the water quality for bacteria levels at all supervised municipal beaches. Monitoring is done for blue-green algae and fecal bacteria to ensure the safety of recreational swimmers or boaters and also to gather data on the health of our lakes and waterways.

Through two streetscaping projects implemented in 2021, the municipality is letting nature guide our approach to resilient landscaping. The Spring Garden Road Streetscaping Project installed bio-retention planters and soil cells for trees that allow stormwater runoff from the street to be filtered through plants and soils, improving water quality in the area. The Prince Albert Road: Road Diet Project installed a rain garden between Sinclair Street and Cottage Hill Drive to reduce flooding and pollution in stormwater runoff entering Lake Banook.

The Shore Road: Building with Nature project will use green infrastructure to help us adapt to the effects of climate change. A joint investment by the municipality and the federal government, this project involves replacing the existing armour stone that runs along Shore Road with more resilient green infrastructure. With a new raised waterfront trail, along with cobble beach, native vegetation and a breakwater system to deal with wave energy, this will protect the road from flooding and prevent erosion.

Famed Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki reminds us that “whatever we do to the earth, we do to ourselves,” and that “we are the Earth” and the water. Our actions and choices have impacts on the water that we rely on. Here are some small actions you can take that can have big results:

  • test your well water for unwanted chemicals and bacteria, viruses or parasites that can cause disease
  • learn more about cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae
  • naturalize your property
  • volunteer with LakeWatchers
Graphic of a fish leaping from a lake
LakeWatchers logo with tagline 'community-based lake monitoring'

The Halifax Regional Municipality is home to over 1,000 lakes, more than 20 rivers, innumerable streams, and 23 major coastal shorelines places for recreation, and fish and wildlife habitats. Through our Regional Plan, we've committed to study watersheds and natural watercourses before secondary planning takes place in an effort to maintain the health of water and meet body contact recreation standards in its lakes, waterways and coastal waters. 

How can I improve the health of lakes, rivers and watersheds?

Watersheds are interconnected. Every action that effects the land also has indirect effects on lakes, rivers, and the ocean waters they drain into. 

Simple individual actions can help preserve and improve the quality and health of these waters:

  • reduce and/or eliminate the use of household and commercial hazardous products
  • make use of Household Hazardous Waste Depots and avoid pouring used cleaners, paints, chemicals or other materials down your drains or into storm water systems such as gutters, ditches, storm sewers, or streams
  • pick up after your pet, and dispose of the waste in the garbage
  • limit your use of lawn fertilizers, or try alternatives such as compost

Invasive aquatic species

Local waterways are home to both native and non-native plants and animals. Non-native species whose introduction causes—or is likely to cause—harm to people, the environment, or the economy, are called invasive species.  The Municipality has a few invasive species on its radar

The Regional Watersheds Advisory Board

Halifax Regional Council appointed the Regional Watersheds Advisory Board in 2013. The board advises the Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee of Regional Council and conducts duties as may be assigned by Regional Council or the Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee.