Beachers Alex and Tyler Mifflin care mostly about three things – one is oxygen, and the other two are hydrogen. The Water Brothers, as the siblings are more widely known, are proud to launch the second season of their eponymous television show tonight, Sept. 10, on TVO.
The brothers sat down last week to talk about all things wet and adventurous, including learning to sail large boats, travelling to the largest festival in the world, ever, in India, and of course focusing on problems in our own back yard, such as the lack of clean drinking water in northern First Nations communities, a national shame in a country blessed with as much fresh water as Canada.
“There’s a vastly disproportionate impact on First Nations,” said Tyler.
So why focus on water to begin with?
“Everything is interconnected through water,” said Alex.
Even though social, environmental, economic and political issues all tie in to clean water, “we don’t see the connections. It’s not always obvious to us,” said Tyler.
While the brothers are passionate about water issues, they realize that working in television, they need to keep their message entertaining, particularly to reach a younger audience. That’s where the travel and adventure comes into play.
In one episode, the brothers travel to India for the Kumbh Mela Festival on the Ganges River, one of the most celebrated yet polluted rivers in the world.
On the same trip they carried on to Bangladesh, which Alex says is “the canary in the coal mine in terms of climate change.”
One adventure sees Alex and Tyler sailing to a remote area in the Pacific ocean, to visit “the great Pacific garbage patch.”
On a related recent trip in Lake Ontario, the boys travelled with a crew to measure the amount of plastic debris in their home waters.
“We don’t have the capacity to filter out small pieces of plastic in our wastewater stream,” said Tyler. “It’s being produced even faster than we can figure out where it’s going.”
Another episode involves farmed fish in British Columbia, which might also hit close to home, at least with Toronto seafood lovers.
“Salmon is such an iconic species in Canada, especially on the west coast. It’s a keystone species,” said Tyler.
Alex agrees, pointing out that what we eat in Ontario creates a measurable impact on water quality in western Canada.
“We aren’t necessarily directly connected to the ocean, but we make food choices every day which do connect us to the ocean,” he said.
Both brothers agree that presenting solutions is a key aspect to their show. From large scale changes to individual choices, Alex and Tyler always try to present viewers with tangible actions they can take to effect change.
Although the brothers are already in the early planning stages for season three, the current season is set to premiere on TVO tonight, Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 7:30 p.m. The episodes can also be streamed any time after broadcast at tvo.org and thewaterbrothers.ca.
Alex and Tyler are also working on redesigning and expanding Quench, their mobile app which offers users a map of the closest taps to fill up on clean water in the GTA, to help reduce reliance on plastic bottles. Quench can be downloaded for Android and iPhone.
Anyone interested in helping out directly alongside the Water Brothers can join Alex and Tyler, and many others, at Woodbine Beach on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 21 for the annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.