Freshwater | WWF-Canada
© Tessa MACINTOSH / WWF-Canada


Canada’s lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands, hold 20 per cent of the world’s freshwater. With such richness comes responsibility to protect watersheds for the wildlife and people who rely on them.

Unfortunately, Canada’s freshwater ecosystems are in trouble. All 167 sub-watersheds are under stress and wildlife that rely on freshwater are under threat; native fish species in Lake Ontario dropped 32 per cent on average in the past 25 years.

It is time for better protections for freshwater systems and species.

WWF is working towards a future where all Canadian waters are in good condition by building water resilient communities, bringing big water data to decision-making tables, and creating a culture of water stewardship across the country by working with governments at all levels, community groups, researchers and Indigenous communities.

Freshwater threats

For decades, Canada has failed to collect real information on a national scale about the health of our freshwater ecosystems. But what we do know is troubling.

Our water systems are facing increasing pressure every day. Growing populations are requiring more clean water. Increasing urbanization and agriculture are encroaching on habitats causing loss and fragmentation. Increasing demand for energy and resources are releasing increasingly more pollution and obstructing water flows. A warming climate is resulting in rising air and water temperatures, and changes in precipitation (from droughts to flooding).

The future of freshwater

The good news is that Canada’s commitment to freshwater stewardship, conservation, and science-based decision-making is now a national priority. There is a growing awareness that safeguarding our freshwater ecosystems is critical to the future of our economies, our communities and our quality of life.

For close to a decade, WWF has been a pioneer in freshwater conservation: forging conservation partnerships with river communities, closing knowledge gaps around national freshwater health, building capacity behind local water stewards, and helping thousands of Canadians “get their hands wet” in grassroots freshwater conservation.

Today our aim is for all of Canada’s water to be in good condition by 2025. That goal has never been more important, or more achievable.