Sewage Overflows

The Issue

Most of the time, water quality in the Ottawa River is great for recreational activities. However, that is not always the case.

When it rains or when snow melts, untreated sewage often flows in the river from combined sewers. These can pose a risk to public health, however the public are not informed of these overflows in real-time.

The City of Ottawa is currently working on Combined Sewer Storage Tunnels (CSST) to further reduce the amount of untreated sewage flowing into the river.

How Are We Helping?

Ottawa Riverkeeper has spearheaded a letter-writing campaign, encouraging people from Ottawa and Gatineau to ask their mayors for real-time reporting of sewage overflows. We have also worked closely with both cities to research solutions to real-time reporting, released a comprehensive report on report on water quality in the Ottawa River, and conducted numerous media interviews to spread awareness on the issue.

While we have seen some promising progress on this file, we will continue to work on it to increase transparency and ultimately end these overflows.

Take Action

One of the best ways to take action is to reduce your plastics waste. This can be done in a number of ways:

  1. Say no to bottled water: opt for reusable water bottles and coffee mugs.
  2. Cut out the plastics bags: use containers instead.
  3. Purchase products in bulk or with limited plastic packaging.
  4. Recycle and reuse the plastics you do have.
  5. Pick up the plastic litter around you. Much of that plastic is washed into our storm drains and drainage ditches and eventually makes it to our waterways.

Our Resources


Thank you to the following funders, who support this important work: