Riverwatch Program

Ottawa Riverkeeper has over 90 volunteer Riverwatchers spanning the river from Lake Temiskaming to Lake of Two Mountains. Our Riverwatchers help to inform our work throughout the watershed and have contributed to initiatives such as our real-time reporting campaign and our study on microplastics.

Throughout the Ottawa River watershed, individuals and community groups are concerned about the health of the river and want to help to protect it. By working together, we can speak with one strong, clear voice in support of a swimmable, drinkable, fishable river. Our Riverwatchers are critical to these efforts.

What is a Riverwatcher?

Riverwatchers identify themselves with specific sections of the river or a tributary and become involved in ways that reflect their own interest, time and skills. Each Riverwatcher determines the activities they would like to participate in within their local community. Together, they work with Ottawa Riverkeeper to find effective solutions to their local problems.

What else do they do?

The Riverwatch network goes beyond being our eyes and ears on the river and around the watershed. The program helps build communities along the Ottawa River and its tributaries dedicated to protecting their local reach. Riverwatchers may do everything from testing water in our citizen-science water quality test program, to education and outreach, to helping local citizens address concerns they might have about activities that impact the health of our river.

“The Riverwatch volunteers are integral to our microplastic studies on the Ottawa River and its tributaries. Their efforts in sampling for microplastics has already resulted in the publication of a scientific paper and to my knowledge they make up one of the largest citizen science groups in the world working to measure microplastic pollution in lakes and rivers.”
– Dr. Jesse Vermaire, Assistant Professor Carleton University

Ottawa Riverkeeper supports Riverwatch groups with:

  • training and workshops
  • information and expertise about current issues and effective solutions
  • contacts for important authorities, groups and valuable resources
  • support through web page hosting, publicity, promotion materials, ideas and problem solving strategies
  • access to the Ottawa Riverkeeper for events, meetings, water patrols and site investigations
  • citizen-science water quality testing equipment


“Ottawa Riverkeeper transformed the commitment and concerns of our grassroots group, Friends of Brewery Creek, into citizen action and citizen science by training and funding us to collect weekly water samples along Brewery Creek. Ottawa Riverkeeper made excellent use of the five year run of data we collected in its public report and as a part of the We Want to Know campaign. Thanks to the expertise and resources of Ottawa Riverkeeper, ordinary citizens were empowered to help identify and publicize a serious water issue.”
– Sheila Jones, Riverwatcher and member of Friends of Brewery Creek

Ottawa Riverkeeper Riverwatchers


Still Interested?

The Riverwatch Handbook has more details.

This field guide is designed to help Riverwatchers:
1) identify aquatic phenomena and environmental concerns,
2) collect the information needed to report their observations, and
3) connect with the proper agencies and organizations with these questions and concerns.
The handbook is now online! Access it here.
See the PDF file of the Riverwatch Handbook here.


Want to become a Riverwatcher?

If you are interested in becoming a riverwatcher or starting a Riverwatch group, please contact our Riverwatch Coordinator.