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Celebrities raise $1.1 million for water conservation

The stars may have been shining last week in Banff, but it was water conservation efforts that were the real winner. Robert Kennedy Jr.

The stars may have been shining last week in Banff, but it was water conservation efforts that were the real winner.

Robert Kennedy Jr.’s Waterkeeper Alliance brought its annual fundraising extravaganza back to the Fairmont Banff Springs and Sunshine Village, Jan. 12-15.

With two days of sporting events at the ski hill and a Stargazer gala dinner and concert by Michael McDonald, the event was one of the most successful for the global grassroots water conservation group, raising $1.1 million.

Hosted by Alec Baldwin, the event garnered attention for the group’s efforts and the Banff area as the Golden Globe winner spent the weekend tweeting about his experiences in the valley.

“This is one of my favourite places in the world,” said Baldwin, who handed out awards for the events held over the weekend, including to himself. “I don’t have a Tony or an Oscar, but who cares now?”

Academy Award winner Marci Gay Harden, who has attended the event for many years, introduced Kennedy and stated the Waterkeepers were in Banff to fight for the right to have clean water everywhere.

Kennedy praised the crowd, largely from Calgary and in the oil and gas industry, for realizing water conservation is not a radical idea.

“It says something extraordinary about Alberta,” he said. “People here look at it objectively and with decency, that there is a larger obligation to conservation.

“Everybody wants clean air and water.”

Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and Canadian representative to the organization’s board Mark Mattson said the event benefits groups in this country like the North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper started by Banffite Karen Percy-Lowe and her husband Kevin Lowe.

Mattson said the Canadian arm of the organization has been working hard on a swim guide app for iPhones and Androids.

The app identifies all local bodies of water for swimming, provides directions and updates water quality.

“The reason we did this is because we are about giving meaning and force to our laws,” he said. “We wanted to give people something to use that is positive.”

Mattson added the application, available for free on iTunes, will be expanded in the future to including drinking water quality and fishing.

He said Canada still has a long way to go to protect its waterways.

“I think people take for granted everyone has drinking water in Canada and they don’t,” Mattson said, adding there are ongoing boil water advisories across the country. “Waterkeepers is trying to focus on this goal and vision – the aim is clean water for recreation, drinking, wildlife and fishing.”

The Invitational attracted dozens of celebrities, including Globe winner Edward James Olmos, Matthew Gray Gubler, Kevin Sorbo, Alicia Silverstone, Peter Fonda, Lorenzo Lamas, Ed Begley Jr., Amy Acker, Jennifer Finnigan, Brad Garrett, Giancarlo Esposito, Julia Jones, Camryn Manheim, Jonathan Silverman, Kelly Lebrock and Virginia Madsen as well as many others.

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