River Institute to Study Impact of Waves and Shoreline Erosion

February 7, 2022
By Bob Peters

Cornwall Ontario – The River Institute will be studying the ecological impact of waves and shoreline erosion on near shore habitat in the St Lawrence River. The project is slated to begin this spring and is supported partially by a financial contribution of $100,956.00 from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

St. Lawrence River Cornwall Ontario

This two-year project will provide new knowledge to understand the relationships between wave cycle science, shoreline erosion, and aquatic habitat quality. It is a collaboration between the River Institute, the University of Ottawa, the Great River Network (a local volunteer group), South Nation Conservation, and the Raisin Region Conservation Authority. The project is endorsed by the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.

“The Great River Network is particularly concerned about the extensive amount of shoreline erosion that is experienced along certain sections of the St. Lawrence River,” says Patricia O’Hara, Chair of the Great River Network, “We are very excited to work with the River Institute and the other partners on this project.”

Project partners will collect baseline data to characterize nearshore fish communities and aquatic habitat quality. In addition, wave forces, water turbidity and their connection to shoreline erosion and ship traffic will be studied. The study results will offer a unique opportunity to assess the impact of ship-induced river bank erosion on fish habitat and the resident fish community.

In addition, these studies will help to establish the needs and plans to stabilize vulnerable shorelines, minimize soil erosion and nutrient flow into the river, and improve the aquatic habitat along the shores of the Upper St. Lawrence River.

“The data collected from this project is crucial in better understanding the long-term impacts of shoreline erosion on important aquatic ecosystems in the St. Lawrence River. Protecting our waterways and the species that depend on them helps Canada grow a blue economy for now and for future generations,” says Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

About the River Institute

The River Institute is located on the banks of the St. Lawrence River in Cornwall Ontario. It was established in 1994 as a unique community partnership involving the City of Cornwall, government, education, business and industry, and the Mohawks of Akwesasne. Its mandate is environmental research and education with a focus on the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence River ecosystem. As a non-profit charitable organization, the River Institute raises its own funds for all essential costs, including salaries, administration, overhead, and operations.

 About the University of Ottawa

The University of Ottawa Civil Engineering Department carries out research in the areas of river engineering, environmental hydraulics, sediment transport, turbulence, and aquatic habitat. In part, their research focuses on flow-sediment interactions, river morphodynamics, and mixing processes, utilizing high resolution field measurements with acoustic instruments, laboratory physical models, and three-dimensional numerical modelling.

 About the Great River Network

The Great River Network is an environmental hub comprised of over 50 river-related organizations, agencies and volunteers who organize initiatives to improve the environment of the Upper St. Lawrence River.

About South Nation Conservation and Raisin Region Conservation Authority

South Nation Conservation and the Raisin Region Conservation Authority have a strong history in watershed management and leadership in applying sustainability practices. They bring decades of practical experience in protecting our environment, engaging communities and leading hundreds of stewardship projects to success.

About Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard manage Canada’s fisheries and safeguard its waters by sustainably managing fisheries and aquaculture; working with fishers, coastal and Indigenous communities to enable their continued prosperity from fish and seafood; ensuring that Canada’s oceans and other aquatic ecosystems including the St. Lawrence River are protected from negative impacts; ensuring commercial vessels and recreational boaters can safely navigate our waters; and being there to save lives and protect our environment when emergencies arise.

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