You may have seen that the Federal Government has just launched a public consultation on future governance of the Ottawa River watershed.
As you may know, in 2015, Ottawa Riverkeeper hosted the Ottawa River Summit, which generated the Gatineau Declaration, a set of co-created principles for an integrated approach to sustainable water management within the Ottawa River watershed.
For more than two years now, we have been working to implement the Gatineau Declaration and leading outreach and engagement efforts throughout the watershed. Today, we see growing momentum, interest, and urgency to address significant issues, such as climate change and the cumulative impacts of pollution and development throughout the watershed. Neither the status quo nor isolated initiatives will ensure water security – sustainable access on a watershed basis to adequate quantities of water, of acceptable quality, to ensure human and ecosystem health.
That is why members of our watershed community have come together to propose the creation of an inclusive, collaborative, multi-sectoral Ottawa River Watershed Council. A Discussion Paper was produced and posted to our website, where we have been inviting comments.
The Watershed Council will bring together representatives of the federal, Ontario, Québec, and First Nation governments, municipal authorities, as well as Hydro-power generators, boating and angler associations, Conservation Authorities, Organismes de bassins versants, and many other stakeholder groups and interested people.
The Watershed Council’s mandate will be to share information and collaborate to solve problems that affect all users of the watershed. Stay tuned for the next developments!
In the meantime, Environment and Climate Change Canada has launched a public consultation exercise to hear from people who live, play, or work in the watershed. Help us share the message that we need a new, inclusive and collaborative approach to protecting our river.
If you want a future where we can safely swim, drink, and fish in the Ottawa River, please take some time to let ECCC know why our river is worth protecting. The dialogue will take place over several months so you can make multiple comments and be part of the evolving conversation! We hope you can share your experiences and stories from the watershed to demonstrate the following to our government:
- Our river is worth protecting, investing in clean water and sustainable communities is worthwhile.
- We need all level of governments including First Nations to be at the same table and work together to address watershed issues.
- We need to pool our information and knowledge to understand watershed health and the pressures our rivers are facing.
- The Ottawa River needs an inclusive watershed council to set priorities for action and address the complex issues that span multiple jurisdictions.
Director, Watershed Council