• Hunter Cresswell

Calling all river users! Consultation to start June 21

Gatineau River quality tests mostly excellent


A recent Friends of the Gatineau River survey envisions a river in 2030 that still has excellent water quality, is brimming with local wildlife, and devoid of invasive species.


With spring in full swing and summer around the corner, popular Gatineau River spots such as Wakefield Bay are expected to get busier. Friends of the Gatineau River will launch a survey in June on how to keep the river’s environment and users safer without changing laws. Hunter Cresswell photo
With spring in full swing and summer around the corner, popular Gatineau River spots such as Wakefield Bay are expected to get busier. Friends of the Gatineau River will launch a survey in June on how to keep the river’s environment and users safer without changing laws. Hunter Cresswell photo

With those goals in mind, the non-profit environmental organization will continue to expand its water quality tests and advocate and educate on behalf of the river’s health.


FOG’s “Vision 2030” online survey closed on May 2. Of the 679 participants, 77 per cent were English-speakers. The majority of survey takers live in Chelsea – 46.4 per cent – and La Pêche – 27.1 per cent. Over half of the respondents – 54 per cent – live within walking or biking distance from Gatineau River.


Most respondents said they frequently use the river for swimming, paddling, or sailing, while only two per cent frequently jet ski; three per cent frequently wakeboard; six per cent frequently waterski or tube; and 15 per cent frequently cruise the river in motorboats.


This information was presented at FOG’s annual general meeting on May 20.


During her presentation, FOG president Rita Jain said that the organization will launch an online consultation on June 21 about how to keep the river’s ecosystem and users safer without having to change any laws. Ideas include increased signage about current laws such as the 10 km/h speed limit near the shore, working with police to enforce river speed limits more frequently, and raising awareness about how motorized and non-motorized river users can share the river safely while respecting the environment.


In recent months FOG began looking into the long process of updating laws on the river in order to keep users and the environment safer. Any changes would require data, analysis, and consultations that justify updates to laws.


A link to the online consultation will be posted to FOG’s website and social media once it is launched. Visit fog-arg.org for more information.



Water quality report


Water quality of the river continues to be, for the most part, excellent, and FOG wants to keep it that way.


Out of the three tests done throughout 2020 at 17 different spots along the river in La Pêche, Cantley, and Chelsea, only two sites came back with “acceptable” fecal coliform (essentially e. Coli bacteria) level results. On July 5 the river near McLinton Creek came back with an “acceptable” result, as did an area between the dams in Chelsea and Cantley on Aug. 3. Most other sites came back with “excellent” results.


“The water quality for the river has been quite good,” FOG science and research director Ronnie Drever said.


When FOG began yearly water quality testing, the Gatineau River was mostly in the “good” range, but most results have been coming back as “excellent” since 2012.


“When we started in 2000, there was very little information on water quality,” Drever said.

Throughout 2020, FOG’s road salt study tested creeks along Gatineau River, including La Pêche Creek in Masham, La Pêche River in Wakefield, Cutter Creek in Wakefield, and Meech Creek in Chelsea. All 19 samples came back under the 120 milligrams of chloride per litre of water “level of concern” except for in Cutter Creek. Out of the 19 tests of the creek, which runs parallel to Valley Drive, eight were above the level of concern, and the peak chloride level during testing was 580 mg/L.


“It’s not as bad as some of the creeks in Ottawa,” Drever said about Cutter Creek.


The meeting presentation, with more water-testing information, is available at fog-arg.org.