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Clean Water for Living

Small Acts Transform the World

John Lawrence John Lawrence, Founder, Clean Water for Living, Chatham Sunrise Rotary Club

Clean Water for Living is a project of the Rotary Club of Chatham Ontario Sunrise, District 6380. Through this project the club asks everyone to do their part to respect and protect water locally. Rotarians are known for their good work on clean water and sanitation projects in less developed countries. During the 2015-16 Rotary Year, the total number of Rotary International WASH grants was 272, and the total funding for the year was over 19 million. Meanwhile, North American Rotary Clubs expended very little energy and very few dollars on local water issues.  Clean Water for Living asks Rotarians to step up their water commitment: continue clean water and sanitation projects in underdeveloped countries and lead the way in education and demonstration of good water practices locally. The project's initial emphasis is on the area around the Great Lakes Region of North America. These lakes represents 21% of the world's surface fresh water by volume and 84% of North America's surface fresh water. The Great Lakes are threatened by man-made issues such as:

  • green algae blooms:  Algae blooms caused by excess phosphorus have contaminated the lake water for drinking. In August 2014 Toledo, Ohio, USA which supplies municipal water from Lake Erie was forced to issue a "do not drink" advisory for parts of three days due to the toxic algae.
  • chemical pollution:  A single drop of oil can contaminates 1 million drops of water.
  • pharmaceuticals:  Great Lakes' water samples have shown presence of hormones and antibiotics.
  • micro plastics:  Standard water treatment processes cannot remove the micro beads found in cosmetic products and laundry machine waters. Micro beads and other degraded plastics particles are found in Great Lakes' water samples.

Clean Water Champions Gloria and Roger McRae, Clean Water Champions


Many of these issues also affect scores of rivers and smaller bodies of water around the world. Many issues doesn't mean we can't make a difference and turn things around.  The Chatham Sunrise Rotary Club takes the positive approach: identifying and highlighting Clean Water ChampionsClean Water Champions are people and organizations illustrating positive water management practices. In the summer of 2015 the Rotary Club of Chatham Sunrise hired award winning cinematographer Brent Foster of Foster Visuals to create four video vignettes showing successful initiatives in Chatham-Kent to respect and improve the quality of water that ends up in our rivers. These videos along with other information and links to helpful sites are hosted on the Clean Water for Living website. There are many ways in which Rotary Clubs can foster respect for and help protect local water:

  • Include a variety of water education and information programs in Rotary meeting schedules each year.
  • Partner with local conservation or similar organizations on clean water projects to protect and or remediate local streams, rivers and lakes.
  • Identify and celebrate Clean Water Champions, people and organizations exemplifying positive water management practices.
  • Support school water education programs.
  • Reduce bottled water use.
  • Support elected officials who advocate for responsible water infrastructure investments.

"Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world." Our rivers and lakes have suffered from our lack of respect and care for many decades. Society thought that our water supplies were infinite and that dilution was the solution for any pollution. We now realize this thinking was wrong. We realize the importance of water in sustaining healthy lives. Now is the time for Rotarians to take the lead in demonstrating good local water practices. Chatham Sunrise Rotary asks you to join our Clean Water for Living movement.  Acting together we can transform the condition of our water resources. Visit our website for ideas on how you might do your part. Like us on Facebook  at

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