People Protecting Water

Learn all about our Riverwatcher Sheila Jones and what's going on with Brewery Creek.

It takes a community to save a river and one of our intrepid Riverwatchers Sheila Jones is leading the way in Gatineau. In 2012 Sheila united a group of people around restoring their neighbourhood river known as Brewery Creek and Les Amis du Ruisseau de la Brasserie (Friends of Brewery Creek) was born.

Dr. Meaghan Murphy, our staff scientist and Riverwatch coordinator trained Sheila and her husband John to monitor water quality in the polluted urban stream. For two years Ottawa Riverkeeper has worked with the Friends of Brewery Creek to document the species found in the river and analyse water quality. Much of this work was made possible with support from the City of Gatineau’s Fonds Vert.

Last January, Les Amis and ORK organized our second Citizen’s Information Forum on Brewery Creek and gathered members of the community to talk about their neighbourhood stream and let them know how they can get involved to help restore it.

The meeting was an opportunity for community members to share their knowledge as well as express their concerns about the health of Brewery Creek and about general water protection in the region.

Adèle Michon, our director of operations for Quebec, presented the findings from our second season of water testing and it wasn’t pretty.

While the water flowing into the creek from the Ottawa River remained well below Health Canada’s recreational boating and fishing recommended limits for single samples (2000 CFUs/100 ml), two of the other sites within the creek maintained E. coli levels that exceeded these limits for a significant portion of the summer (June-July). Our highest result of the season produced E. coli levels 12 times the recommended limit for recreational safety. These high concentrations of E. coli in the creek are indicative of untreated sewage additions from the combined sewers.

During this forum, le club des Ornithologues also presented the different plants and animals they have observed living in and around Brewery creek, including rare and endangered species. Finally, Les Amis du Ruisseau de la Brasserie presented the activities they had in the summer of 2014, including the reintegration of indigenous plants and cleanups along the creek. They will need volunteers to put their plans to action this summer too. Find out more about their cleanup on May 2nd 2015.

There’s still a lot of work to do on Brewery Creek and engaged citizens like our Riverwatcher Sheila Jones and Les Amis du Ruisseau de la Brasserie, play an important part in its protection and restoration. Learn more about Sheila in her Riverwatcher profile by clicking on the button below and if you are interested in being a part of our River Watch program, please contact us.

Sheila Jones Riverwatcher Profile