Pollution Probe works to advance understanding of emerging issues facing Canada’s waterways and to develop effective, innovative solutions to water resource protection and management challenges.


The Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup

The Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup is a first-of-its-kind initiative, using innovative Seabin and LittaTrap™  technology to quickly capture and remove plastics and other litter at marinas from Lake Ontario to Lake Superior and everywhere in between. Through research, outreach and education, and collaboration with organizations like Georgian Bay Forever, the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup will work to identify sources of litter entering our waterways and how government, industry, and consumers can work together to reduce, reuse and recycle material waste.

Great Lakes Plastic Forum

Following Canada’s adoption of the Ocean Plastics Charter, Pollution Probe partnered with the Council of the Great Lakes Region and the Clean Water Foundation to advocate for action on plastics in freshwater ecosystems as well as oceans at the Great Lakes Plastics Forum. We’re pleased to be working with the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) on the Action Plan for Zero Plastic Waste.

Currently in focus is a capture-and-recovery strategy that prioritizes recovering plastic waste from the Lakes and preventing further pollutants from entering the system. A vital aspect of this work is engaging members of the public and building awareness of the problem as well as what people can do to help.

Find the latest Plastics report here.

Pharmaceuticals in the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are a unique resource that is vital to the economic, societal and environmental health of the region and North America. Over the last decade, pharmaceuticals have received increasing attention as emerging contaminants in the Great Lakes, with concerns related to impacts on aquatic ecosystems and human health.

Pollution Probe is focused on ways to mitigate the impact of pharmaceuticals in the Great Lakes, including identifying knowledge gaps and developing effective solutions to pressing challenges. In partnership with Swim Drink Fish Canada, Pollution Probe is exploring how citizen science can be used to engage as many Canadians as possible in the protection of our precious lakes.

Find the latest Pharmaceuticals report here.

Watershed Management and Big Data

In partnership with the Council of the Great Lakes Region, Pollution Probe is working to improve watershed management through the use of innovative technology and data science. As watershed science and planning becomes more complex, a new approach to watershed management, underpinned by integrated and adaptive decision-making, is required to help Conservation Authorities, government regulators, policymakers and scientists, and municipalities understand and manage the health and long-term sustainability of watersheds and sub-watersheds throughout the Great Lakes basin.

Phase 1 of the project focused on a new model for watershed monitoring, science, planning and management, and Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP) development.

Phase 2 focused on strategies to leverage large data sets, deep analytics, predictive modeling, and machine learning to develop and pilot new data visualization and decision-making tools for lake management.

Find the latest Water Management and Big Data Report here.


Melissa De Young, Director, Policy and Programs

Sabah Ibrahim, Research and Project Co-ordinator


Pharma In the Great Lakes 101

What are pharmaceuticals? And what do they have to do with the Great Lakes? This video explains how pharmaceuticals end up in the Great Lakes, as well as what impacts they might be having on aquatic life and potentially human health. Also check out our handy explainer guide ‘Pharmaceuticals in the Great Lakes 101’ – a great resource for schools, community groups, citizen scientists, and anyone who wants to learn how to do their part to protect clean water in our Great Lakes.

All About Citizen Science

What is citizen science? And can it help tackle the issue of pharmaceutical pollution in the Great Lakes? In 2020 we continued our work on analyzing the impact of and possible solutions to the issue of pharmaceuticals in the lakes and published a report titled Citizen Science in the Great Lakes: A Tool For Engagement on Pharmaceuticals and Other Emerging Issues. Along with the report, we released a collection of resources including this animated video. Find the report and the full resource repository here.