Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority

Spring water awareness locally

image Local schools are educating students to stay safe; keep away from high, fast-flowing water and thin ice.

Spring Water Awareness Program (SWAP) teaches thousands of students to avoid thin ice, high water

Spring Water Awareness Program (SWAP) teaches thousands of students to avoid thin ice, high water

To stay safe, young people need to know to avoid thin ice and high, fast-flowing water, according to Ausable Bayfield Conservation; that’s why conservation authority provides SWAP program free to watershed schools 

Flood events in this area in January reminded us that streams and rivers rise to high levels and flow at high speeds as snow and ice melt. Some local areas flood to some degree each spring. Conservation educators say these are some of the reasons they deliver the Spring Water Awareness Program (SWAP) to schools in Ausable Bayfield watersheds. “Young people should stay away from rivers and streams any time of year but especially in winter and spring,” said Denise Iszczuk, Conservation Educator with Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA). “Winter and spring is when the water is cold and the rivers are high.”

Conservation educators teach as many as 2,000 students a year to stay away from high and fast-flowing water and to avoid ice. During February and early March, SWAP makes its way across the watershed to schools that want their students to better understand river systems and the hazards associated with them. 

In a school gymnasium or library, conservation educators deliver one to three presentations designed for students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 – to primary, junior, and intermediate levels. 

To find out more, or to book the Spring Water Awareness Program, schools may visit or email or phone 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610.

Ausable Bayfield Conservation offers this program free of charge to watershed schools on a first-come, first served basis. The continued support of ABCA member municipalities made this twelfth year of SWAP possible for elementary schools in the watershed.

At press time, there were five local schools hosting SWAP presentations: Adelaide-W.G. MacDonald Public School, February 7; McGillivray Central Public School, February 22; Precious Blood Catholic School, February 23; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, February 28; and Huron Centennial Public School, March 1.

Parents, guardians, and teachers can find some safety-around-water information online at 

Here are a few tips for young people:

  • Never play by the water when you are alone.
  • Always have an adult check if the ice is thick enough before you play on it.
  • Always read warning signs near water.
  • Never play by dams and water control structures.
  • Always tell an adult where you are playing and when you’ll be home.
  • Call 911 or get a parent or guardian for all water-related emergencies.

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