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Don Paskovich and John Almstedt are residents of Westboro. For over 25 years, they have been concerned about the health of our river, especially in their community. Both Don and John played a key role in the early years of Ottawa Riverkeeper. They are looking forward to working with the community to protect and improve the health of the Ottawa River.
As official Ottawa Riverwatchers, they will now focus their energy on the stretch of the Ottawa River from the Deschênes Rapids to the Chaudiere Falls. This stretch of the river has unique qualities worth mentioning, namely:
Deschênes Rapids Only one large rapid remains intact along the entire length of the Ottawa River without the negative impact of a bridge crossing, a hydro dam and/or industrial development. The Deschênes Rapids descend from Lac Deschênes across a sandstone sill, producing a broad, boiling white water area that is open and flowing year round. Not coincidentally, the rapids retain the only substantial Ottawa River population of the nationally rare Riverweed — once found commonly in other now-compromised fast water sections of the water course. This oxygenating ‘lungs-of-the-river’ also provide habitat for large numbers of wintering waterfowl as well as rare raptors (including Gyrfalcons in some winters) which prey upon them. These last natural Ottawa River rapids have been threatened with destruction by inter-provincial bridge and/or industrial development for almost 100 years, protected from destruction on several occasions only by the diligence and actions of various private groups of Ottawa River citizens.
Kitchissippi Lookout A Millenium project focused upon the renovation of Westboro Beach. It began in the summer of 1998 and endeavoured to demonstrate that a small neighbourhood urban beach can be a catalyst for mobilizing the community into environmental, historical, social and recreational improvement. The resources come from an energetic group of residents working in cooperation with a local restauranteur, an outdoor outfitter, the City and the NCC. Outcomes are: the creation of a small neighbourhood cafe, cleaner and safer swimming, shoreline naturalization, an historical kiosk and small parties and barbeques for local community groups.
Mud Lake / Britannia Conservation Area A patch of wilderness in the middle of an urban setting, Mud Lake is an amazing area of forest and wetlands, home to hundreds of species of wildlife, with raccoons, frogs, turtles and foxes, to name but a few. This ecologically significant urban natural landscape is also prime birding territory, with thousands of birdwatchers coming each year to observe hundreds of different species. A walk through this easy-to-access urban jungle provides an exciting escape from city life.
Chaudiere Fals The Ottawa River and Chaudiere Falls at the edge of Lebreton Flats are beautiful and powerful to behold. These rushing waters also determined much of the early development in the area. With their talent and technological ingenuity, the local people harnessed the water power that fuelled a century of innovation for Lebreton Flats. Freeing the rapids is part of a vision of Grandfather William Commanda, along with a healing and peace centre at the nearby Victoria Island.
The impact of stormwater outfalls on the water quality and the beach closures in the area in a major concern. The Riverwatchers are currently looking into ways to start some positive action on a very old complex problem related to E.coli sources in the Westboro Beach area. Stormwater is likely the major source of the problem so they are endeavouring to take a closer look at some of the outfall monitoring data as well as considering where some settling ponds could be located on public land and how to encourage home owners to be more vigilant in controlling runoff.
View the recent Bacterial Assessment Report at Westboro Beach [other file: 0mb]
Stay tuned for Ottawa Riverkeeper’s comments and recommendations
Don, John and other members of the community are planning to inform the public about stormwater issues in the city and the health of our river. The City has provided information that has enabled a storm sewer outfalls map to be made which shows neighbours where the sewer and stormwater pipes are coming from and going to. To this end, everyone will be able to make a direct association between their actions and what they contribute to the Ottawa River.
Sludge from the Water Purification Plant – Ottawa’s two major water purification plants are located at Britannia and Lemieux Island on the Ottawa River. Combined, they flush 545 tonnes of alum-tainted “process waste” into the river every year – sludge left over after the chemical is used to purify the river water. The water plants’ outflows didn’t meet provincial water quality standards in the past years. Now, there are four basic options to dispose of the sludge: put it in the sewers so it’s carried to the Robert O. Pickard centre (ROPEC), where all of the city’s sewage is processed; haul it to ROPEC in trucks; reprocess the sludge to reclaim the alum for reuse; or dry the sludge out and haul the waste away for disposal.
Bayview snow dump – The snow dump on Bayview Road just north of Scott Street continues to be a concern even though the City has promised to close it by 2009. It has been a concern for nearby residents for the last 15 years. The area was not designed to be a snow dump hence there are concerns about the environmental effects of the melt water, which contains many pollutants, including salt, oil, grease, and pet waste, and goes directly via a storm sewer into the Ottawa River, less than 100 metres away.
Lebreton flat development This development project is the largest “Brownfield” development project in Ottawa’s history. The area was an old residential and industrial area that has been vacant since its demolition in the mid 1960s following the decline of the area. The project includes an important decontamination phase of surface soils that have been contaminated by past industrial activities. Once the soil remediation completed, the effective development of the site followed. One of the first stages of this development, which will include commercial, residential and recreational areas, is the design and implementation of services such as a water supply network, a sanitary wastewater collection network and a stormwater collection network and management facilities. A stormwater collection network and related stormwater management facilities composed of many conduits covering a maximum total of 4.5 km. The stormwater management facilities will potentially include biofilters, wet ponds and an intercepting device (known under the brand name “Stormceptor”) for suspended solids, free oil and other pollutants. To learn more about the project, click here
The Riverwatchers are looking forward to working in collaboration with others groups who take the lead on those issues
Don Paskovich email phone:613-729-1515
John Almstedt email phone: 613-728-1043