A small fishing huts in a nova scotia fishing village.

Past Projects

Learn about some of the past projects and initiatives from the Ecology Action Centre's Coastal & Water Team!


Living Shorelines Demonstrations

Living Shorelines Demonstrations

Beginning in 2014, the EAC embarked on a series of projects to implement the Living Shorelines Approach along Nova Scotia’s coastline including three sites along the Northumberland Strait and one demonstration site at St. Mary’s Boat Club in the heart of Halifax. The goal of these sites was to see if Living Shoreline techniques that had proved successful in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina could be adapted to work in Nova Scotia. 

Northumberland Strait Demonstration Sites 

The sites in this beautiful part of our province were located on private coastal properties in Caribou Island, Brule, and Malagash. This work was funded by Environment Canada's EcoAction Community Funding Program and the Sage Foundation. 

Saint Mary's Boat Club Demonstration Site 

In 2014 and 2015, The EAC partnered with the University of Waterloo's Climate Change Adaptation Project, funded by the Intact Foundation, to create a Living Shorelines demonstration site in Halifax. As part of this process, interested coastal professionals, students, researchers, and property owners helped us go through the various stages of creating a Living Shoreline, from site selection to a workshop to build a basic understanding of Living Shorelines techniques, and to take input from participants about what we could do with the Boat Club. Participants learned about what was possible and drew their ideas. We used these drawings to make the final site plan. 

We selected Saint Mary’s Boat Club as our demonstration site. In the spring of 2015 we mapped out where we would plant the trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers for this living shoreline using biodegradable landscaping paint. 

In May, over 70 people helped with the planting day. The St. Mary’s Boat Club Living Shoreline came to life with new garden beds, shoreline protection tools, plants, and new community connections to our public spaces. After the project was planned out and the weather warmed up a bit for us, we implemented our Living Shoreline 

That September, we planted an additional 150 trees at the boat club's demonstration project and had a corn boil to celebrate our hard work and the bounty of the harvest season. Thanks to TD Friends of the Environment for providing the trees! 

Groundswell: Community-Based Groundwater Monitoring

Groundswell: Community-Based Groundwater Monitoring

Today in Nova Scotia, 35 per cent of people draw directly from local groundwater resources for their water, and the rest of us rely indirectly on groundwater. Although its quality is generally good in most areas, some regions have aquifers that are under stress from over pumping. Groundwater monitoring in Nova Scotia relies on the provincially run Groundwater Observation Well Network (GOWN), and the community-based groundwater monitoring project called Groundswell. The project aims to improve our understanding of groundwater resources in small communities. Initiated by the EAC, it is currently being run by the Nova Scotia Community College at their Ivany Campus. 

Project Details: 

GOWN includes 39 monitoring wells, and Groundswell includes 9 sites; these wells collect groundwater elevations every hour using electronic data loggers and telemetric units which send data to a central computer. The wells are visited several times each year in order to assess the data loggers and manually field-verify the water level. View the Nova Scotia Environment provincial observation well network here

Expanding the network using the Groundswell model provides information about groundwater resources in more areas of the province, some of which are facing development or industry issues and are in dire need of information about their aquifers. 

The idea of Groundswell started within the Nova Scotia Environmental Network's Water Caucus. This group recognized that very little monitoring and management of groundwater was being done in Nova Scotia. It is currently run by the Nova Scotia Community College Ivany Campus, where it continues to be a successful model of community-based monitoring. 

Resources & Example Documents

Groundswell Project Kit: How to start the project and develop a network of groundwater monitoring wells in your own community, province, or state.  This manual guides the project coordinator through the basic steps of getting started. 

Groundswell Example Manual: How to manage the network once it’s running, and, in particular, how to monitor individual wells. This manual was developed for Nova Scotia and the coordinator of the project can alter it for their own needs. The target audience is project volunteers. 

Example Field Form: Recording data and other information in the field is very important. This document helps volunteers keep track of monitoring visits and water level data. 

Example Funding Proposal: General information about Groundswell that could be used in preparing funding proposals. 

Example Waiver: An example of an agreement between a landowner and the project coordinator or project organization. 

Logger Installation (part 1, part 2): A step-by-step guide to installing Data loggers and Baro loggers into a drilled groundwater monitoring well. 

Volunteer Training: A step-by-step guide to training volunteers to effectively monitor their local groundwater monitoring site. 

Daylighting the Sawmill River

Daylighting the Sawmill River

After 46 years of being buried underground, the Sawmill River can see daylight again! You can now visit the river, which is back flowing above ground at Sullivan’s Pond in Dartmouth. This is an important step in reviving fish passage between Halifax Harbour and the Shubenacadie River system for species such as gaspereaux. 

The Sawmill River is a historic river that once flowed through downtown Dartmouth. In 1972, after extensive flooding caused by Hurricane Beth, the river was buried into a stormwater sewer. HRM is now embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expose and restore Sawmill River. The Halifax Regional Water Commission is in the process of replacing the aging culvert in which the Sawmill River now flows between Sullivan's Pond and Halifax Harbour.   

Daylighting, the practice of exposing streams from buried conditions, will allow for all or parts of the river to flow above ground adjacent to the Canal Greenway Park. It will have many benefits for Dartmouth residents and visitors alike, including improved land value, recreation and amenity space, flood risk management, fish habitat improvement, urban-heat-island cooling, and wellbeing.   

Phase one of this project is complete, and parts of the Sawmill River can see daylight once again. While we’re pleased that the river is flowing above ground, it is contained in an engineered channel. This channel, however, is complete with a fish ladder so that the fish will be able to move from the ocean to the many lakes upstream. This phase ends in the temporary holding pond behind the Lock 9 Condos.  

Canal Greenway Phase II: Coordinated Open Space Development Plan


Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking)

Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking)

From 2011 to 2014, we worked alongside thousands of people dedicated to protecting our communities and the environment from fracking. On November 14, 2014, the Government of Nova Scotia released legislation to prohibit fracking in Nova Scotia. Recently, the fight against fracking has resurfaced. We've been supporting the work of NOFRAC to keep the moratorium in place.  

Stormwater Infrastructure & Management

Stormwater Infrastructure & Management 

From 2010–2013, the EAC worked to increase the adaptation capacity of municipalities, developers, builders and homeowners to make improved decisions for managing stormwater in order to reduce the risk of infrastructure damage and the negative impact to water quality caused by extreme weather events. Part of that work involved educating the public about stormwater, which we did through videos and blog content. You can read articles and watch videos created as part of this past project at managingstormwater.blogspot.com.

EAC has also explored the viability of green roofs and rain gardens and their many benefits in Halifax. Green roofs, rain gardens and bioswales are just a few examples of stormwater infrastructure that can help to absorb rainfall and make our roads and buildings more resilient, especially as the city builds new infrastructure and redevelops old corridors and communities. For more information, read EAC’s manual on green roofs (June 2009) or check out EAC’s stormwater management techniques workbook

On Solid Ground

On Solid Ground

From July to October 2012, the EAC and Sierra Club Atlantic contacted members of community groups with experiences in exploration, mining, environmental assessments, and quarries. Community groups were selected who were known through personal professional contacts, or through the media, to be active on mining and quarry issues. Notes were kept and privacy was maintained where appropriate.  The result is the report "On Solid Ground: Community Voices for Changing Nova Scotia's Mining Policies.” This report documents what we heard and provides 28 recommendations for change in the Mineral Resources Act and in other, but related, policies.  

Cheticamp Climate Change Adaptation Project

Cheticamp Climate Change Adaptation Project

Between 2011 and 2013, the EAC worked with community and provincial partners on a climate change adaptation project in Cheticamp, Cape Breton. The project focused on helping the tourism and fisheries sectors in the area understand climate change risks and opportunities specific to their sector. This project was funded by Canada’s Rural Secretariat under the Knowledge Development Partnership. Reports and presentations created as part of the Climate Change Adaptation Project in Cheticamp can be viewed below. A group of students in Mount Saint Vincent University's Tourism and Hospitality Management program undertook a project as a research assignment, within the context of the fourth-year course THMT 4440 (Special Topics in Hospitality Management).