WWF-Canada Blog:
Freshwater


St. Lawrence added to endangered rivers list. Here’s why

The St. Lawrence River has just been named one of America’s top 10 most endangered rivers.

For over 50 years, the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario have been subjected to a water level and flow-management plan that has caused extreme wetland habitat loss and species declines because it did not consider the importance of natural, variable flows.

 

WWF-Canada’s Watershed Report for the St. Lawrence River shows that the river is facing very high threats from flow alteration, habitat fragmentation, pollution and a high threat from habitat loss. Lake Ontario also faces very high threat levels from habitat fragmentation and a moderate threat from alteration of flows.

The good news is that a new water level and flow management plan already exists. It is called Plan 2014, developed by the International Joint Commission and referred to both the Canadian and United States governments for approval on June 19th, 2014. It is a solution that is good for the environment, the economy and the communities along the St. Lawrence. Plan 2014 would restore more than 26,000 hectares of wetlands along the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario shorelines, boost hydropower production, and increase the resilience of hundreds of kilometers of shorelines on the Canadian and U.S. sides of the waterway.

The Welland Canal, part of the St. Lawrence Seaway, allows ships to detour Niagara Falls and pass from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. © Frank PARHIZGAR / WWF-Canada

The Welland Canal, part of the St. Lawrence Seaway, allows ships to detour Niagara Falls and pass from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. © Frank PARHIZGAR / WWF-Canada

More than 22,500 citizens, 42 conservation organizations and 35 business and community leaders have expressed support for Canada and the United States to adopt Plan 2014, but it remains unenacted.

WWF-Canada supports the immediate adoption of Plan 2014 by both governments to benefit the habitats, species and communities that rely on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

You can take action by visiting plan2014now.savetheriver.org and joining Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and countless other Canadians in asking Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion to protect and restore the St. Lawrence today.

Rebecca Dolson is WWF-Canada’s specialist on freshwater policy. She holds a Master’s in aquatic ecology and an undergraduate degree in marine and freshwater biology.


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