With more than 200 communities within the boundaries of the Ottawa River Watershed, we face numerous issues varying from region to region and with most of the population concentrated in the south, we typically don’t understand or pay attention to specific problems happening up north despite the fact that the source of our river is all the way at Lake Capimitchigama, in northern Quebec.
We wanted to speak with northern water-leaders about the issues they face when it comes to the Ottawa River, so when the mayor of Kipawa, Norm Young, invited us to present the AquaHacking – Ottawa River Summit event to the 20 mayors of the Temiscaming Regional County Municipality, we eagerly made our way up Ville-Marie, Québec. The Ottawa River flows for 400 kilometers through this region, so we need their participation to achieve the goal of working collaboratively with all the key watershed stewards.
Mayors Bernard Flébus (Ville-Marie) and Norm Young (Kipawa) took time to show us problem areas in their respective regions. All of the major reservoirs in our river system are in the northern part of the watershed and this has changed the landscape and ecosystem for all who live here.
We saw firsthand the effects of reservoir drawdown (this is when significant volumes of water are released from a reservoir) which reduces reproduction of certain species of fish by up to 70%, greatly impacting tourism, a big economic factor in the region.
In Ville-Marie we also learned about the proposed intensive pig farms. People are concerned about the water pollution risks associated with this controversial project. County prefect, Arnaud Warolin, explained his concerns with septic systems in the region and the fact that a great deal of them not are up to code or being properly maintained and this pollutes near by waterways.
The implications of all these issues are important for communities along the Ottawa River. The leaders in this region feel very far from the capital where permits are issued and there is frustration that they are being ignored.
This is one of the many reasons why our upcoming AquaHacking – Ottawa River Summit is so important. We are creating an opportunity for everyone, including isolated, northern communities on the Ottawa River, to discuss their concerns for our river and share their ideas for improved prosperity and watershed health.
We are pleased to announce that several northern leaders will join us on May 29th in Gatineau, Quebec for our Ottawa River Summit.
Harry St. Denis, Chief of the Wolf Lake First Nation will sit on a panel that will be discussing what success looks like in the Ottawa River Watershed. We hope that you will consider joining us too! Please spread the word of this event and contact your local elected officials and ask them if they will be attending the Ottawa River Summit. We all need to work together to ensure one another’s prosperity; water is life.