City Departments

Cambridge WATERS

If you are a teacher, water professional, and/or resident of Cambridge interested in local water issues and education join us in developing these projects - we need your help!

Cambridge WATERS stands for "Cambridge Water Awareness Through Education and Resource Stewardship" and the name represents the group's focus on education, surface and groundwater protection, and awareness building activities.

Cambridge WATERS is a subcommittee of the Cambridge Environmental Advisory Committee (CEAC). Cambridge WATERS is composed of volunteers from business, agriculture, education, government, and citizen organization/interest groups.

Cambridge WATERS volunteers try to educate the public on the importance of groundwater, promote lifestyle changes to help conserve groundwater and encourage participation in community based projects.

Since 1997, the work of Cambridge WATERS has been recognized by the Groundwater Foundation by designating Cambridge as a Groundwater Guardian community. At present, Cambridge is the only community in Canada designated as a Groundwater Guardian community, joining over 150 American communities. Visit the Groundwater Foundation website


In partnership with Trout Unlimited Canada, Cambridge WATERS has been providing this program to residents in Cambridge for more than ten years.

Most residents are not aware that many of their household products can be dangerous to both public health and the environment when disposed of in a storm drain.

As part of this program, volunteers paint yellow fish symbols next to storm drains and distribute fish-shaped brochures to nearby households. The brochures explain to residents the threats posed by toxic materials emptied into storm drains ending up on nearby waterways.

This is a great project for school children, community groups, and day camps!

Cambridge WATERS provides the marking kits free of charge which contain all the necessary items including a program guide for the adult leader(s) of the group. For more information or to arrange to borrow the marking kits, please call Cathy Smith at (519) 740-4650 ext 4649 or email For additional information on activities and games visit Yellow Fish Road


When you book your Yellow Fish Road kit, ask about the Thrills and Spills game, a snakes-and-ladders format game for all ages. The spaces have conservation-based themes (e.g."Grandma stops watering lawn when Frisbee fills up. Move ahead 2 spaces" or "You poured unused medicines down the drain. Move back"). Thanks to the Region of Waterloo, Cambridge WATERS has three large format games(two are tabletop 6' x 2' and one is a groundsheet 15' x 5') in addition to class sets of desktop-sized games for sign-out. There is also an online version of Thrills and Spills that single to groups of players can try.

Current Cambridge WATERS Projects

The Cambridge WATERS volunteers are working on various projects. The projects aim to engage the general public more effectively and more memorably at Riverfest and other public events as well as the schools in Cambridge, and build a better understanding of our local water resource and the interconnection between our use and conservation - "what happens on the land is reflected in our water.

Elementary Teacher Resource

A variety of resources (books, graphic novels, games, worksheets, etc) produced by local and Canadian authors that speak to three main messages; 1. We all live in a watershed; 2. Where does my water come from and where does it go? (natural systems, such as the hydrological cycle, wetlands, streams, etc and how they interact with human systems see The Cambridge Water Map); and, 3. The Cambridge water story. Part of the Cambridge water story is your story and the natural and human made water features in your neighbourhood and around your school below is a listing of Cambridge schools and all of the water features from The Cambridge Water Map within 15 minutes walking distance
Avenue Road
Blair Road
Chalmers Street
Christ the King
Clemens Mill
Elgin St
Galt CI
Glenview Park SS
Grand View
Holy Spirit
Jacob Hespeler SS
Lincoln Avenue
Monsignor Doyle SS
Mother Teresa
Our Lady of Fatima
Pere Renee de Galinee
Preston HS
Preston PS
Southwood SS
St Ambrose
St Andrews
St Anne
St Augustine
St Benedict SS
St Elizabeth
St Francis
St Gregory
St Joseph
St Margaret of Scotland
St Michael
St Noel Chabanel
St Peter
St Vincent de Paul
Stewart Avenue
William G Davis
Woodland Park

Interactive Water Awareness Display

Cambridge WATERS developed a display which features the excellent resources of partners Waterloo Region, Children's Groundwater Festival, Grand River Conservation Authority and provides information on water issues such as Source Water Protection.

Cambridge Water Tour

The Cambridge Environmental Advisory Committee (CEAC) developed a "Cambridge Natural Heritage Tour" as a 10th anniversary project. The 50-page booklet includes photos and a description (and a tour map) of 29 natural heritage sites in Cambridge and their significance. Cambridge WATERS, as a standing subcommittee of CEAC, would like to repeat the success of the natural heritage tour but instead create a water-focused tour. The tour would highlight and describe significant ground and surface water resources, as well as elements of the drinking and wastewater system (e.g. cold water streams, recharge wetlands, Manheim treatment plant, sewage treatment plants, groundwater seep areas and springs, Preston Springs hotel, etc.) This project is in the conceptual/development stages and some ideas include producing a booklet, a google-maps based webpage, a school tour guide (for field trips), and/or annual bus tour event. The Cambridge Water Map was the first step in producing this resource and versions for each school have been produced. Please see documents below.

June 11, 2010
Cambridge WATERS Chair John Goodwin and member Susan Galvao joined RBC branch manager Noella DeSousa and Mike O'Connor at the 79 Main St. branch to accept a $5,000 cheque on RBC Blue Water Day in order to support Cambridge WATERS projects.

Cambridge Groundwater Guardian Founder, Paul Puodziunas, 1952-2006
Paul Puodziunas, a resident of nearby Brantford, and April Souwand, the City's Senior Environmental Planner, were instrumental in the formation of the first Groundwater Guardian committee. The City had been obtaining its water supply from groundwater for more than 100 years and the municipal water supply infrastructure and administration were long established. As a charter member of Groundwater Guardian and its first Chair, Paul recognized the need for improved public awareness about groundwater resources, and worked tirelessly over the next decade on the committee's initiatives to promote education about groundwater in Cambridge. In his own pleasant style, Paul was a willing and vigorous participant in all Groundwater Guardian activities.

Paul graduated with a B. Sc. in Earth Sciences (University of Waterloo) in 1975. Over the next 30 years Paul had an exciting and varied career in the geosciences. He worked in oil and gas exploration including the off-shore, water-resource development in Tanzania, nuclear geological-repository siting in Europe, and in the groundwater consulting industry across Canada. Sadly, on August 29, 2006, Paul lost a struggle with leukemia at the age of 54. He is survived by his parents, Enna and Victor, and his brother Leonard. He leaves many friends, who are saddened by his loss but remember the commitment, vibrancy and smile so prevalent during his active life.

The Cambridge Water Story...
Cambridge and the surrounding Region of Waterloo is the largest urban area dependent upon groundwater in Canada. Cambridge is situated at the confluence of the Grand and Speed rivers which are important sources of drinking water for a number of communities. Underlying bedrock aquifers supply most of the drinking water to Cambridge (population 130,000) as well as to the other municipalities within the Regional Municipality of Waterloo (which has a total population of approximately 500,000). The City relies on twenty-seven water supply wells up to 60 meters (200 feet) deep. The highest producing wells occur in the heart of the City and these supply almost half of the water used by residents and industries. Many of these wells date back to the 1900's with the first wells being drilled in 1891. Approximately 80% of the water consumption in the City is drawn from groundwater. The remaining 20% comes from the Grand River and is pumped into the Manheim aquifer and mixed with groundwater before distribution. Although this precious resource is relied upon as our source of drinking water, other water uses place a great strain on its availability. However, attitudes towards water usage and conservation have begun to change with the recent water restriction by-laws, educational activities and events, and very successful incentive programs (rain barrels, high-efficiency toilet replacement programs, among others).

The Big Groundwater Picture
Walkerton is a small town of about 6,000 people that is only a 1.5 hour drive north-west of Cambridge. And like Cambridge it too is dependent on groundwater as its source of drinking water. In May 2000, seven deaths and more than 2,300 cases of waterborne disease affected almost half the residents of the town. As a result of that tragedy a public inquiry identified the need for government actions and planning that focused on "source water protection" at the watershed / regional level in the Province of Ontario. Cambridge WATERS has created displays and information materials, in partnership with the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, and looks forward to greater involvement in other source water protection efforts.

The Future of Cambridge WATERS?
As Dave Smyth, long-time Cambridge WATERS member, remarked in noting the longevity of the group, "our mandate has not run dry." Whereas single-issue advocacy groups, or task forces, disband at the end of their mandate, Cambridge WATERS has stayed the course, and continues to develop new ways to tell the Cambridge water story. With expected and continued growth, and the new requirements under Provincial source water protection legislation, Cambridge WATERS will likely be busier than ever in the coming years!

Cambridge WATERS Teaching Resources
The following teaching resources are available free of charge from Cambridge WATERS. Please contact Paul Willms at about obtaining them for your class.

  • Where Does My Drinking Water Come From and Where Does It Go? -- This is a poster and colouring book exercise aimed at Grade 3 and 4 children that helps them discover the system and occupations behind our drinking water supply.
  • Cambridge: A Groundwater Community -- This is a full-colour poster with classroom exercises on the back aimed at Grade 8 children that helps them learn about the groundwater resource and how to protect it.
  • Thrills and Spills game (Region of Waterloo) desktop, table top, and large groundsheet versions available check out the online Thrills and Spills
  • *Pipe Dream (graphic novel) The Amazing Water Adventures of Danny Droplet (Ministry of the Environment)
  • *Conservation Ontario's interactive CD Watershed Connections
  • *American Waterworks Association Water Adventures Around the World book
  • *Department of Fisheries and Oceans Homes for Fish story and colouring book
  • *Chris Rawlings Rocks and Water Children's songs and Music
  • *Water Up, Down, and All Around book
  • *Peter Russel and Leanne Gelsthorpe Wally & Deanna Adventure books:

*Groundwater Adventure
Black flies to Blueberries(wetlands)
Quartz Crystal Adventure

  • and more


New members are always welcome. For more information on Cambridge WATERS or to attend one of our monthly meetings, please call (519) 740-4681 ext. 4262 or email us at

For more local ground and surface water resources, you should also check out the following:

the Waterloo Wellington Children's Groundwater Festival
the Grand River Conservation Authority
Business and Rural Groundwater programs offered by the Region of Waterloo and Grand River Conservation Authority
studies, reports, Master Plans
City of Cambridge annual water reports
Region of Waterloo teachers resources and posters
Online Thrills and Spills Game
the Water Wagon and Blue W programs and resources
and other Region of Waterloo water testing, monitoring, water restriction by-law information

Ten Ways to Protect and Conserve Groundwater:

1. Dispose of chemicals properly.
2. Follow the lawn watering restrictions in your community.
3. Limit the amount of fertilizer used on plants.
4. Take short showers.
5. Shut off water while brushing your teeth.
6. Run full loads of dishes and laundry.
7. Check for leaky faucets and have them fixed.
8. Water plants only when necessary and plant drought resistant plants in your garden.
9. Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator.
10. Get involved in water education.

Related Documents

Environmental Information
CENTRAL CENTRAL 2013-01-04 452Kb
The Cambridge Water Map The Cambridge Water Map 2013-02-19 PDF 3698Kb