The Teenage Girl Who Rescued a River
What can one person do? Listen to this.
When Stella Bowles was 13, her family’s septic system collapsed. Before that she’d never thought about what happens after you flush, and she was appalled to learn that most of her neighbours’ homes along the shore of Nova Scotia’s lovely LaHave River – more than 600 of them – didn’t even have septic systems. Their toilets flushed straight into the river.
Stella asked why the straight pipes weren’t prohibited. It turned out that they were, but the regulations weren’t enforced. Furious with adult inertia, Stella persuaded her parents to help her erect a roadside sign and start a Facebook page. People started talking about the issue. With the help of a retired scientist, Stella learned how to test the bacteria levels at various locations in the river herself, and the results proved that the lovely river was little more than an open sewer. She published her horrifying results on Facebook. That caught the attention of TV and newspaper reporters. People stopped swimming in the river and started hurling hard questions at the county council.
The controversy snowballed. So did Stella’s impact. By the time we interviewed her, the three levels of government had committed $16.7 million to the LaHave cleanup. Stella had just returned from lecturing in Sweden; her book had just been published; she had met the Prime Minister, and she was on Canada’s Walk of Fame.
And she was 16.
All over the world Stella’s generation is in the streets, demanding a future. All of us should be out there with them. Go hear Stella’s story — in her own voice. Just click here.