Mission aims to explore water quality of Ottawa River

Proponents of the Ottawa River Mission are gearing up for next month’s visit by Alexandra Cousteau.

The granddaughter of undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, she’ll be leading an expedition from Sept. 11 to 21 exploring the watershed.

“We are working very hard right now to prepare,” said de Gaspe Beaubien Foundation executive director Dominique Monchamp.

The mission is backed by Ottawa Riverkeeper, the foundation, and Cousteau’s Blue Legacy International.

A crew will be capturing three short films in the region exploring water quality, the impact of dams on biodiversity, and the effect of the lack of collaborative governance on the river.

The watershed serves two million people in 200 municipalities.

“Actually being on the river helps people gain better understanding of its various issues”, said Ottawa Riverkeeper executive director Meredith Brown.

This week, the fourth generation of the de Gaspe Beaubien family — whose foundation is contributing $490,000 to the cause — went on an expedition to do just that.

“It was absolutely fantastic,” said Monchamp, who was on the trip.

The teens “really took the cause of the river very deeply,” she said, noting it is now an emotional project versus an intellectual one.

“They really understand what watershed means.”

A marked difference was noted between provinces.

“In Quebec, you absolutely cannot build or cut trees along the shore,” she said.

In Ontario though, cottages were ubiquitous — as were volunteers called River Watchers, while the Quebec side had none.

Visit ottawariverkeeper.ca for details.

Twitter: @ottawasunkroche

http://www.ottawasun.com/2013/08/09/missions-aims-to-explore-water-quality-of-ottawa-river

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