(NC) Did you know that no matter where you live in Canada, you’re connected to water? Even if you don’t live near the ocean or have a lake or a pond in your neighbourhood, you’ve still got a shoreline in your community. That’s because a shoreline is anywhere that water meets land, including your own storm system.

Water from precipitation, called stormwater, accumulates on the ground and is part of the water cycle. This area of land that collects rain and snow, which drains through streams, rivers and into lakes, is called a watershed. Some water gets absorbed into the soil, but the runoff enters the storm system: all the streets, gutters, catch basins, manholes, channels, ditches, underground sewers and stormwater ponds that eventually connect to river systems, and yes, our lakes and oceans.

That’s why garbage tossed on the street or along the side of a road can harm our water ecosystems as much as trash on a beach does. Shoreline litter can leach harmful chemicals into the water, accidentally be eaten by wildlife and entangle aquatic animals such as turtles, birds, fish and marine mammals.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, is one of the largest direct-action conservation programs in Canada. A joint conservation initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and WWF-Canada, the program enlists Canadians across the country to clean shorelines in their own communities to help care for our freshwater and marine ecosystems.

Since it first started in 1994 more than 600,000 people across the country have participated, helping to keep our rivers, lakes and oceans healthy for the communities and wildlife that depend on them. In 2015 alone there were more than 2,000 volunteer-led cleanups made up of over 59,000 registrants with events in every province and territory.

No matter where you live in Canada, your actions have an impact on our waterways. Do something positive by registering to clean a local shoreline in your community. It’s a great way to reconnect with nature, learn about how litter harms our aquatic ecosystems and make a real difference in the health of your local waters.

Learn more or register online at shorelinecleanup.ca.

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