As newcomers living in Metro Vancouver, have you ever wondered where your water comes from, or if the drinking water is reliable?

This summer a group of 26 newcomers who are clients of S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Burnaby and Tri-Cities offices joined a guided tour by Metro Vancouver, to access the Coquitlam Watershed.

Since the watersheds are closed to the public in order for it to stay protected from litter, pollution, erosion and other hazards, the only chance of exploring what’s in the watershed is to register for a tour available only in July and August. A school bus picked up the group near Lincoln Skytrain station and headed to the north of Coquitlam. As soon as the bus went beyond the watershed gate we felt like we had entered an entire new world of nature into an overgrown forest, full of moist, fresh air overlooking a lake, a few streams and wildlife.

The bus stopped at different stops along the watershed, where our knowledgeable tour guide Deana gave us short presentations on how the land is protected with minimum human intervention. She told us how the water is purified at the historic water intake tower and becomes our tap water, and the role of a healthy ecosystem in maintaining exceptional water quality.

At one point while inside the lush forest Deana asked everyone to put away their cellphones for about a minute in order to listen to the sounds of nature. Some people said they heard the birds singing, some heard the water flowing while others simply felt the splendor of nature during this moment of tranquility.

The last stop of the tour took us to a higher elevation with a breathtaking view of Coquitlam Lake and the coastal mountains. It got the group thinking of what was learned from Deana. Everyone showed deep appreciation for the protected lands and the source of our tap water. Maintaining the ecosystem while conserving water is what we can all do for the health and vitality of the place we all call home.