World Rivers Day 2020

This World Rivers Day, we wanted to honour not only the Ottawa River and its tributaries, but also you, the people that love the watershed and make our work possible.

Happy World Rivers Day! Recently, we shared the results from a new survey created in conjunction with our partners and Riverkeeper Gala sponsors, Abacus Data, to better understand how people feel about the Ottawa River. This gave us a great idea of how valuable the river is to the general population, for example that 92% of people think it makes living in the area much better.

However, once we shared the results, many people wrote in with inspiring stories about what the river means to them personally.

One person told us about how her family has lived in Hull for over 4 generations right next to the river, and how they would spend their summers swimming near Luskville. More importantly, throughout her life on the river, she has noticed that it is now much cleaner than it was before!

Another citizen expressed his concern for the sewage and potential nuclear waste as threats to the health of the river, while also sharing his many fond memories of his visits to the beaches of Norway Bay and his walks with his grandparents on Westboro Beach.

Even our own staff Biologist Katy Alambo was not planning on staying in the Ottawa River watershed upon completing her studies at the University of Ottawa. However, after conducting fieldwork in the thousands of lakes, ponds, and wetlands throughout the watershed, she could not leave. In her current role with Ottawa Riverkeeper, Katy loves all the opportunities she has had to experience the river and learn from and share with fellow river enthusiasts.

On an important date such as this one, we wanted to honour not only the Ottawa River and its tributaries, but also you, the people that love the watershed and make our work possible. Your stories inspire us to continue to push to improve this beautiful region.

If you want to share a memory, an experience, or moment about a time you connected with a body of water, create a Watermark. Your Watermark can serve as a reminder of how we are all connected to and depend on water! In advance, thank you for sharing your story and happy World Rivers Day!

If you would like to record a video Watermark, email a 1 minute video to along with the name of the waterbody you are speaking about. Make sure to mention that you heard about the Watermark Project from Ottawa Riverkeeper in the description so that we can see your submission!

2 responses to “World Rivers Day 2020”

  1. Mike Fairfield says:

    Congratulations on World Rivers Day.
    I lived on the shore in the Luskville-Quyon area for fifteen years until the flood of 2019. On the riverside of our property, there is a retaining wall of cement protecting the property approximately 2 metres above the beach. According to the data on the Ottawa river water levels, the top of our retaining wall had never seen water since records were kept in 1950 until 2017 when it rose 15 cm above the wall. In 2019, it rose 45 cm above the wall. Am I the only person that belives that these were not natural events?

    The 2014 accord between Canada and the United States to control the water levels and the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence seaway, came into effect in January 2017. What a coincedence! The water level rise on the St. Lawrence seaway caused hundreds of properties to lose their shores to erosion. When the levels of the St. Lawrence rose and flooding caused highly populated areas of Montreal to become affected right up to St. Anne de Bellevue and Lac des deux Montagnes, the water was retained at the locks in Carillion. While the highly populated Montreal area avoided severe flooding, the waters of the Ottawa river and the Gatineau river had nowhere to go. If it was severe rainfall and snow melt that caused the flooding, why were people able to cross the Ottawa river on foot in areas of the Laverendrye park? The area where I had lived has now been declared a flood zone by the Quebec government and I have lost my home. I am not alone. Hundreds of families on the Ottawa and Gatineau rivers are in the same boat.

    Please don’t blame this on Mother Nature. Global Warming does not raise the water levels three years in a row up to 45 cm all of a sudden.

    Let’s put the blame in the right place, the 2014 Accord and the government bodies who control the water levels at hydro-electric facilities (dams).

    Thans, Mike.

    • Matthew Brocklehurst says:

      Hello Mike, we are very sorry to hear that you lost your home in the 2019 flood, and thank you for sharing your experience.

      There have been many questions about what caused the flooding in the Ottawa River and the St. Lawrence River in 2017 and 2019 including questions regarding the International Joint Commission Plan 2014. The Ottawa River Planning Regulation Board, the IJC and Ontario’s Special Advisor on Flooding Report addressed these questions including the role of dams and Plan 2014 and they all came to similar conclusions; that the volume of water in the Ottawa River watershed, due to a combination of snow accumulation, timing of spring melt, and the intensity of rainfall events, were significant contributions to these flooding events.

      A point of clarification: The Plan 2014 is for the St. Lawrence River system. As its largest tributary, all of the water in the Ottawa River watershed eventually flows into the St. Lawrence River. The type of dams we have on the Ottawa River, especially the central and lower regions of the river are run of river dams with little to no reservoir capacity during high flow events such as spring flooding. It can be challenging to believe this due to the size of the dam at Carillion and other location son the Ottawa River, but while the dams are large, the reservoirs for these dams is limited. During the spring, all the water that reaches the mouth of the Ottawa River flows into the St Lawrence River as quickly as it arrives with no controls able to slow or hold back this water.

      We have included the reports which explain why these events were so catastrophic in 2019 and 2017. We realise this is probably not want you want to hear, but all the evidence for these flooding events highlight the unusual events that resulted in the high water in the Ottawa River system. Ontario’s Special Advisor on Flooding Report brings in an outsider’s perspective but arrives at the same conclusion as the two other reports.

      Thank you for your comment, and please feel free to reach out to us if you have any more questions, or want more resources.