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Water Quality


A Cheering Scene

The Rideau River, near Billings Bridge.

The Rideau River is one of the cleanest rivers to flow through any capital city. The scientists who participated in the Rideau River Biodiversity Project did not observe any industrial pollution. Indeed, the water quality in the Rideau River is relatively good and supports a diversity of animal and plant life.

During the three years of the Project, bacteria levels in the River were low enough to permit swimming on most days without risk. (Note: The Rideau River diverges from the Rideau Canal on the edge of downtown Ottawa; the ensuing stretch of the Canal is not included in these results).

A beetle of the genus Peltodyte.
An aquatic beetle of the genus Peltodyte. family.

Only the excess fertilizer that was present in the River during each summer casts a slight pall over the otherwise bright picture.

The 30,000 water chemistry measurements taken by the research team indicate that water quality is good between Smiths Falls and Kars.

Downstream of Kars towards Ottawa, however, there were excessive amounts of fertilizer in the water. This is not dangerous for swimmers the way bacteria can be, but it does cause excessive growth of plants and algae. The resulting dense mats of decaying algae on the surface of the water can become a nuisance.

Bottles. Find out the difference between a river's water and pure water, and learn about the roles played by various components in the health of the Rideau River:
dissolved oxygen,
dissolved salts.


A Project of the Canadian Museum of Nature
 Images: Ed Hendrycks, Andy Ormsby, Diane Pathy