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Study says swimming may be possible in the Chateauguay

The Fondation Rivières and the Société de conservation et d’aménagement des bassins versants de la zone Châteauguay (OBV SCABRIC) have published the results of a study that concludes swimming may be possible in the Chateauguay River.

This study found that during dry weather in the summer months, the bacteriological quality of the water in the Chateauguay River is generally quite good or even excellent in some places, and that only the areas downstream, such as in the city of Chateauguay, appear to be at risk of contamination during the summer.

Water quality monitoring was conducted for 12 weeks from July through September 2021. The Fondation Rivières conducted a “hybrid monitoring” of the river’s water quality, using both traditional laboratory tests for E. coli and a new rapid analysis technology, the “ColiMinder.” This device can detect the presence of E. coli in water in 15 minutes by enzymatic analysis, as well as perform automated tracking, which allows for high-frequency sampling and access to results on an online platform.

This hybrid monitoring methodology, coupled with intensive field work, provided a portrait of the bacteriological quality of the water. “Citizens tend to associate brown water with pollution, when this is not necessarily the case,” says the executive director of Fondation Rivières, André Bélanger. “In 2020, the water in the L’Assomption River was shown to be of good quality for swimming. Today, the city operates an extremely popular and safe public beach.”

Last summer, the two organizations provided continuous monitoring of water quality on nearly 55 kilometres of the Chateauguay River and assessed 10 potential swimming sites, with the support of the municipalities of Chateauguay, Mercier, Sainte-Martine, Howick, Ormstown, Dewittville and Huntingdon.

OBV SCABRIC executive director Félix Blackburn hopes this study will serve as an inspiration to other riverside municipalities in Quebec, saying “Almost all the municipalities along the river have collaborated on the project, and for that, we are particularly proud.” (RP)

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