Nova Scotia teen wins $5K prize for spearheading clean-up of contaminated river

Stella Bowles says she is happy that all three levels of government are providing funds to help clean up the LaHave River. Cory McGraw/Global News

Stella Bowles, the 13-year-old who has been leading the charge to clean up Nova Scotia’s LaHave River has won a $5,000 prize for her efforts.

Bowles, who lives in Lunenburg County, N.S., is the newest winner of the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, a prize that celebrates the efforts of young people from North America who “have made a significant positive difference to people and the environment.”

The $5,000 cash prize is to support the youth’s service work or higher education.

READ MORE: N.S. student’s science project prompts vow to clean up ‘environmental disaster’

Bowles had originally discovered that the LaHave River was tainted with raw sewage as part of an elementary school science project.

According to Bowles’ findings, 600 homes along the river, all equipped with straight pipes, have been releasing raw or partially-treated sewage directly into the water.

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“You can’t even touch the water it’s so contaminated,” Bowles told Global News at the time.

Straight pipes are actually illegal under the Environment Act, however, officials say no charges have ever been laid against home owners in the Bridgewater area.

Despite the river being an environmental disaster for decades, no steps were ever taken to clean up the river until the problem was highlighted by Bowles.

Federal support

In June, the federal government announced that it had allocated $5 million towards a project to replace the straight pipes.

The project is expected to cost $15.7 million by the time it is completed in the next six years.

WATCH: Nova Scotia girl’s dream to see LaHave River clean coming true

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia girl’s dream to see LaHave River clean coming true'
Nova Scotia girl’s dream to see LaHave River clean coming true

Despite the promise to clean up the river, Bowles told Global News her work isn’t done yet.

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“I’m going to keep testing the river,” she told Global News.

The replacement of the pipes is expected to begin later this year.

At only 13, Bowles proves that anyone at any age can have an impact.

“Age is just a number. If you want to make a difference, make a difference,” said Bowles.

— With files from Natasha Pace

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