Working to Protect Ontario’s Watersheds, their Natural Heritage, and our Receiving Waters
In spite of the existence of a fairly robust series of laws, regulations, and policies to protect Ontario’s environment, the Ontario Headwaters Institute and many sister organizations are aware that the lower, more populated sections of most watersheds in South-central Ontario, and the water quality there, are significantly degraded.
This has left many of the headwater areas of these watersheds as de facto reservoirs of regional forests, wetlands, and niche habitats for many species, as well as a source of both good water quality and quantity.
Unfortunately, these headwater areas now face three growing pressures: increasing development; a changing climate; and efforts to reduce environmental protection, management, monitoring, and regeneration.
In the face of these pressures, the OHI believes that our headwater areas must be better protected in the future than how we have managed our downstream areas in the past. Working with local partners, we will develop Headwater Alliances to craft Community Visions for healthier headwater areas.
OHI Brochure January 2021, describing our vision for watershed management
OHI Backgrounder on Watershed Management Jan 2021, which includes a description of headwaters.
You can also watch the five educational powerpoints on the OHI YouTube Channel on Water and Watersheds, Watershed Characteristics, What are Headwaters, Why Headwaters are Important, and Headwaters of the Greater Golden horseshow.
MISSION AND CORE ACTIVITIES
The OHI will seek to develop headwater alliances within its Civic Engagement portfolio, which requires partnerships with other organizations, to develop community visions to better protect our headwater areas.
Key efforts will include:
- Convening key organizations in a defined headwater area in a headwater steering committee;
- Facilitating the steering committee to develop a terms of reference, a preliminary scan of priority issues & their prospective outcomes; and a draft community vision for healthier headwaters;
- Seeking local input on the draft community vision; and,
- Developing and sharing a final version of the community vision.
Each steering committee shall set guidelines for membership, meetings, committees, and outreach in developing the community vision for their headwater areas. Each headwater alliance will be considered a volunteer network, subscribing in general to the sound management principles of the Ontario Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee.
Local steering committees, the alliance, and meetings between alliances shall function on the basis of people acting in good faith to achieve the common goal of healthy headwaters.
Three principles that will inform efforts to develop local community visions for healthy headwaters are:
- Reconciliation: Embracing good will and recognizing the obligations of all treaty people in a spirit of reconciliation;
- Responsibility: Encouraging public responsibility for the state of the headwaters, with increased cooperation between all sectors and government agencies; and,
- Resilience: Ensuring resilient policy and stewardship frameworks to protect the natural heritage and hydrologic integrity of our headwaters, with implementation protocols and adequate resources for headwater protection, management, monitoring, and regeneration.
It is anticipated that funding will be needed to facilitate both the Headwater Alliances project and efforts within individual headwater alliances. Guidelines on funding include:
- Where the OHI seeks general funding for the project or individual alliances, it will do so and spend any such funding in a transparent manner to achieve the goals of the project;
- Where the OHI seeks funding for specific activities in the project, within one alliance, or for activities across more than one alliance, it will do so in a transparent manner and discuss with members of steering committees, as appropriate, agreement on project goals and potential funding for services that might be provided by members of the steering committees; and,
- Being a member of a steering committee shall not preclude any member from seeking funding that might directly or indirectly help meet the goals of the project or an individual alliance.
LANDING PAGES FOR HEADWATER ALLIANCES AND MAPS
We hope to launch more alliances after September, 2021