There are 71 Riverwatchers throughout the watershed that work to take care of those sections of the river and tributaries closest to them. Being a Riverwatcher goes beyond using your eyes and ears on the river and around the watershed. Each one is an active community member who dedicates their time to citizen science, outreach and/or community issues related to river health.
Riverwatcher Louis Lafontaine is a shining example of the positive impact our Riverwatchers can have on their communities. Louis grew up in Hawkesbury. He remembers how the construction of the Carillion dam in the early 1960s changed the landscape of the town and how pollution from pulp and paper mills made the river and creeks unswimmable.
The image of the discoloured water and sulfur smell stayed in his mind. It inspired him to do environmental volunteer work for different organizations and groups. Three and a half years ago Louis became a Riverwatcher after his friend Bonnie, also a Riverwatcher,recommended he get involved with Riverkeeper.
Over his time as a riverwatcher, Louis has monitored the water quality of both the river and Hawkesbury Creek. He has organized shoreline cleanups, spoken to schools and community groups about stewardship and reached out to his friends and neighbours.
His most recent shoreline cleanup brought together members of his fishing club, neighbours and a school group. The area this cleanup focused on had the unique problem of being very close to a snow dump on the shore of the Ottawa River. In the spring, when the melt starts, the accumulated garbage that was in the snow ends up in the river. By cleaning up the site early Louis and his team stopped garbage from getting into the river.
Louis has also reached out to youth in his community using Riverkeeper’s interactive stormwater model to teach children how land use impacts water quality and river health in high schools and at the National Defense Headquarters annual Fishing Day.
Like Louis, all Riverwatchers work with Ottawa Riverkeeper to find effective solutions to their local problems by using their own unique skills and passions to inspire river appreciate and action.