Water Conversations

The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) and Environmental Defence are pleased to host “Water Conversations”.  Taking place once a quarter for two hours, these in-depth workshops provide water champions a chance to share their expertise, learn from others, and determine the best path forward for actions needed to ensure healthy waters.  

Prior to each Water Conversation, we’ll canvass your ideas on topics through a brief survey.  We’ll then review the list of ideas and identify 1-2 topics to bring forward to the conversation.  We will share an agenda with you, as well as resources or materials that you’ll need to review ahead of time so we can best use our time together. These sessions will not be recorded for public sharing, so please plan to join us in person if that session’s topics are of particular interest to you. 

If you’re interested in learning more about these conversations and receiving updates, surveys, and invitations, please email info@cela.ca

Episode Seven -The Great Lakes and the Line 5 pipeline: An ecological disaster in the making and a violation of Indigenous rights

Wednesday,  November 29th,  2023 – 10:00 am – 12:00 pm ET
Registration is required for this free event.

The Line 5 pipeline crosses through the heart of the Great Lakes, putting 84% of North America/Turtle Island’s freshwater at imminent risk. It has already spilled at least 4.5 million litres of oil; it’s not a matter of if another spill will occur, but when and how devastating it will be.

Anishinaabeg Tribes and First Nations across the Great Lakes are fighting to shut it down in the name of protecting water and life. Great Lakes environmental advocacy groups, grassroots groups, and human rights lawyers have joined Indigenous nations in the call for the closure of the pipeline.

Join Environmental Defence and CELA for this in-depth conversation about the Line 5 pipeline. Following a series of presentations, there will be time for discussion amongst participants about opportunities for action. These sessions are NOT recorded; please register and join us ‘live’ (on Zoom).

Confirmed Speakers:

  • Whitney Gravelle is the President of Bay Mills Indian Community and serves Chair of the Department of Interior’s Secretary’s Trial Advisory Committee and Commissioner on the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice.
  • Sean McBrearty – Campaign Coordinator, Oil & Water Don’t Mix and Legislative and Policy Director at Michigan Clean Water Action
  • Michelle Woodhouse – Water Program Manager, Environmental Defence

Episode Six – Get the Lead Out of Drinking Water

This session took place on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

This Water Conversation session focused on the ongoing health impacts of lead in our drinking water. We’ve known for a long time that exposure to even very low levels of lead can have serious health consequences, especially for fetuses and young children. Although there is widespread recognition of the health impacts of lead, we’re not doing nearly enough to address it.

This session featured speakers from CELA and the Ontario Municipal Water Association (OMWA), sharing recommendations for how to reform the Ontario legislative and regulatory scheme to get the lead out of drinking water once and for all. Both CELA and OMWA have written detailed recommendations for legislative reform, which were shared and discussed at the session. Following the presentations, there was a discussion amongst participants about the barriers and strategies to advance these recommendations at the provincial and municipal levels.

Suggested reading for this session included:

Additional Resources

Also Available:

  • CELA’s slide deck from the presentation portion of the session is available for download by clicking here.
  • OMWA’s slide deck from the presentation portion of the session is available for download by clicking here.

Episode Five – The Environmental Impacts of Nuclear Power in the Great Lakes Region

This session took place on Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Our fifth Water Conversation focused on the environmental impacts of nuclear power on water quality in the Great Lakes region, including impacts related to decommissioning, nuclear waste, and radionuclides. We provided an overview of ongoing nuclear projects and proposals, and discuss opportunities for public engagement.

Suggested reading for this session included:

Also available:
– The slide deck from the presentation portion of the session is available for download by clicking here.
– All of the links shared in the chat during the session are available by clicking here.

Episode Four – What Does it Mean for Water: A Post-Provincial Election Discussion

This session took place on Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Taking place only days after the election, this session focused on the impacts of the provincial election results on water in Ontario, and discussed the top freshwater policy issues the provincial government should prioritize over the next four years. Participants received an update on provincial jurisdiction on water, what the election could mean for water policy in Ontario, and contributed to a discussion of key policy priorities that should be pushed for before the throne speech.  Speakers presented from the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Environmental Defence, and Chiefs of Ontario. 

Episode Three – What Does it Mean for Water? A Post-Federal-Election Discussion

This session took place on October 21st, 2021

This session focused on coordinating efforts to ensure federal attention and investment is made toward significantly improving the health of all waters. Participants were updated on what is anticipated from the current federal government, learned about an emerging national coalition, and discussed potential collective priorities and actions.

Resources that were shared for this meeting included:

Should you be interested in signing up for the Canadian Coalition for Healthy Waters, you can do so through their website here: https://healthywaterscoalition.ca/

Hosted by the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Environmental Defence, Our Living Waters, and the Canadian Freshwater Alliance.

Episode Two – Growing the Greenbelt

This session took place on June 16th, 2021

This session will focus on coordinating efforts to maintain momentum around the Ontario government’s consultation to grow the size and further enhance the quality of the Greenbelt.  Participants will learn about what other organizations are doing, get an update on what is happening provincially, and discuss potential joint priorities and actions, and how they can work together.

Hosted by the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Environmental Defence, and the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance.

Episode One – Drinking Water Source Protection

This session took place on March 24th, 2021

The focus of our first Water Conversation will be extending source water protection to everyone in Ontario. Phase one of implementing the Clean Water Act provided protection to almost 80% of residents, but does not ensure protection for many who are on private wells, in rural communities, and Indigenous communities. We will discuss the gaps in legislative and policy implementation and hear from speakers who live and/or work in unprotected communities.

In preparation for the meeting, we ask you to please review the following three resources to learn more about our topic:


After registering, participants will receive an email with agenda, speaker list, and additional resources.