An international symposium on freshwater management in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin - September 13 to 15, 2007 in Sorel-Tracy


    MONTREAL, Aug. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Does Quebec have a freshwater crisis?
Reflecting this concern, an international symposium on freshwater management
in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin, the world's largest freshwater
basin, will take place in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec from September 13 to 15, 2007.
Quebec's Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Line
Beauchamp, will take part in this important gathering.
    Problems relating to freshwater management in the
Great Lakes-St. Lawrence basin are currently of great interest. Water managers
are deeply concerned about the levels and quality of the water entering the
St. Lawrence River from the Great Lakes and the tributaries in this huge
basin. The purpose of the symposium is to bring together the principal elected
and non-elected policy makers, scientists and freshwater managers (including
those from watershed organizations) from Quebec, Ontario, the United States
and Brazil. The symposium, in fact, takes place in a context of sharing
experiences and knowledge among freshwater basins from around the world that
have been practicing integrated basin-based water management for decades and
that have been successful at resolving many freshwater management problems.
These directly affect potable water intakes, navigation, aquatic life,
wastewater outflows, agricultural pollution, groundwater deterioration, the
growth of cyanobacteria (or blue-green algae), habitat degradation, etc.
    These issues should incite all stakeholders to become aware of the need
to share their knowledge of the problems and their solutions in order to
propose a feasible plan of action.

    What exactly is a watershed basin?

    A watershed basin is the catchment area for all the waterways (streams,
lakes, marshes) flowing into a main river, and it acts like a huge funnel.
Water flows according to gravity, and the watershed basin's boundary is
defined by a line (the water-sharing line) linking the summits of the
neighbouring mountains. Precipitation in the watershed basin ends up flowing
towards its main river, while precipitation on the other side of the line
drains into the neighbouring basin.
    One of the themes emphasized in Quebec's Water Policy is watershed-based
management. Thirty-three watershed organizations have been officially
recognized since Quebec announced its Water Policy in 2002. These are
non-profit organizations collaborating to revalorize their basins; and they
are mandated to draw up guidelines for their own watershed, consult with the
local population, and call on local experts in order to establish a clear
picture of the actual state of their water resource and submit an action plan.
    Integrated basin-based water management is a method that takes into
consideration all the activities of all the stakeholders that have an effect
on the water resource within the natural catchment area. This type of
management makes allowances for the ability of the watershed basin to support
different usage types; with such an overall vision in mind, water resources
can be preserved for future generations.
    The symposium's many invitees, all specialists in integrated basin-based
water management, will therefore be able to benefit from the opportunity to
illustrate their expertise using concrete examples from their respective

    A call to all concerned stakeholders

    The symposium wishes to generate interest that extends beyond its own
initiates, and will have to reflect the concerns of citizens. To understand
the precarious state of water resources is to take a first step toward halting
their deterioration, and the symposium comes at a time when never before in
Quebec's history have so many bodies of freshwater been declared unfit for
    The average citizen must form the basis of the solution. The symposium
will have to present a united front regarding the urgency of acting before
problems arise by calling the attention of all actors in the freshwater drama,
basin by basin. Few can claim innocence in the current polluted water
situation. We have all contributed to different degrees through our regional
claims and the parceling out of territory for multiple reasons: individual,
industrial, agricultural, commercial and real estate.
    It is the responsibility of each and everyone to see that a procedure for
sustainable freshwater management is implemented, namely that of integrated
watershed basin-based water management. And it is urgent that Quebec makes up
for its lateness in this respect.

    Sorel-Tracy Mayor Marcel Robert will preside over the symposium, which
has the support of the Eastern Montérégie CRE (Regional conference of elected
officers). The symposium is being organized by the Comité de concertation et
de valorisation du bassin de la rivière Richelieu (COVABAR).

    Our partners:

    QIT-Fer et Titane inc.
    Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation
    Eastern Montérégie CRE (Regional conference of elected officers)

For further information:

For further information: Marie-Claude Lavoie, (514) 233-5524; Jocelyne
Pigeon, (450) 467-5671

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