What makes a Riverkeeper?

This is part two of our series leading up to the announcement of our new Riverkeeper. In it we explore the role of the Riverkeeper position in the watershed, and what makes it special.

You have been waiting a long time for this… We are now ready to share with you the identity of our new Riverkeeper! To set the stage for this exciting announcement, we want to explain how this unique position allows our organization to play a leading role in the protection and promotion of our amazing watershed. So stay tuned and read on. The big reveal is just around the bend!

A Riverkeeper is a full-time, non-governmental ombudsman whose special responsibility is to be the public advocate for their river. What makes a Riverkeeper unique?

A Riverkeeper shows passion and concern for their watershed, and dedicates their energy to its protection and sustainability for future generations. The work of a Riverkeeper is to engage people within the watershed to promote their right to drink, fish and swim in its waterways. 

A Riverkeeper leads the way by taking personal responsibility for the protection and restoration of local waterways, and helping to serve as a voice for their ecosystems. Acting as the chief spokesperson for the organization, they build networks and engage with hundreds of communities throughout the watershed. The Riverkeeper works diligently to establish responsible and accountable monitoring, assessment, enforcement, and long-term planning to protect the public interest of swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters.

With a focus on the entirety of the watershed, the Riverkeeper identifies priority issues and supports local watershed activities in both Quebec and Ontario, as well as Indigenous lands, leading the work through ongoing data collection and monitoring efforts, and reviewing past watershed health assessments. Acknowledging the importance of including Indigenous Knowledge in watershed health assessments is key, as well as the need to continue the comprehensive assessment of the health of the watershed including: improving the coordination of monitoring activities, sharing existing information, supporting community-based monitoring, and improving communication about the watershed.

Above all, the Ottawa Riverkeeper is passionate and creative and has the health of the entire watershed at heart. By working with others to raise awareness about threats and issues facing water, such as  climate change, population growth and industrial development, the Riverkeeper aims to restore the human connection to water and motivate people to take action to protect the planet’s most precious resource – the giver of life: water.