The Watershed Health Committee is an advisory body of Ottawa Riverkeeper. It is made up of approximately 20 volunteer experts from academia, environmental organizations, and government agencies with an interest in the health and future of the Ottawa River watershed.
The Watershed Health Committee is assisting Ottawa Riverkeeper as we design and lead an assessment of the health of the Ottawa River. Through regular meetings and workshops, the Committee is examining the wide range of data sources, indicators, and monitoring protocols in use across the watershed, and helping us build a model that will serve as the main tool for the assessment.
The results of this exercise, presented in the form of an online report-card, will reinforce transparency and collaboration, strengthen data sharing networks, and be of significant value to residents and recreational users of the watershed. This assessment will lay the foundation for our understanding of the impacts and trends at play in the watershed. It is our hope that it will inform decision-makers at all levels of government as they plan a safe and sustainable future for the next generations of river users.
With its 146,300 km² surface, more than 200 municipalities, dozens of rivers and reservoirs, countless lakes, our watershed is a complex system of inter-related bodies of water that are affected by nature’s rhythms, human activity, and climate change.
In 2015, Ottawa Riverkeeper hosted the Ottawa River Summit, a gathering of community-based groups, environmental organizations, and government agencies whose respective responsibilities include the leading, monitoring, or regulation of various recreational or commercial activities in the watershed.
As a result of the Summit, participants, and more than 1,500 interested individuals, signed the Gatineau Declaration, a co-created action plan for a shared and integrated approach to protecting and restoring our great river.
Among other recommendations, the Declaration called for the identification of a set of indicators to monitor and report on as benchmarks of our watershed’s health. This led to the formation of the Watershed Health Committee.
At a meeting in March 2018, the Committee continued to examine the different types of data being collected by conservation groups, municipalities, and government agencies to assess the health of the watershed. Committee members also discussed how to integrate traditional knowledge so that it can complement the work currently being done to test water quality, determine the impact of urban development on shorelines, and gauge the distribution of animal and plant species, among other measures of watershed health.
Several members of the Watershed Health Committee attended the Gathering of the Ottawa River Watershed Network in November 2018, where the research project on Health Indicators was presented and discussed with a wide range of stakeholders. Input was collected on the research protocol, selection of potential indicators, availability of data sets, and the importance of seeking and integrating traditional knowledge. Work on this project is led by Mary Trudeau and progressing steadily toward the production of a first report in April 2019.
(name & affiliation)
Canadian Museum of Nature
World Wildlife Fund Canada
University of Ottawa
Conseil des bassins versants des Mille-Îles (COBAMIL)
Organisme de bassins versants des rivières Rouge, Petite Nation et Saumon
Algonquins of Ontario
St Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences
Council of Canadian Academies
Marilou G. Thomas
Organisme de Bassin Versant du Témiscamingue (OBVT)
University of Ottawa
Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
City of Ottawa