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Our impact on our
rivers and the life that
surrounds it!

Go through the activity to discover the importance of rivers for humans and ecosystems. Click, drag or even search with your mouse for the information that is hidden in each page! You will also be able to discover the impact of man on these rivers and on how to keep these expanses of water healthy!

If you can’t find the items, you can use the top right tab, it will show you the way

Ashuapmuschuan River, Saint-Félicien, Québec, Canada, by Maxime Desbiens

Why do we say that water is so valuable in Quebec?

Water is essential for all living things on Earth: without water, there is no life!

In fact, in Quebec, we are fortunate to have more than 4,500 rivers and 500,000 lakes! In Canada, we own no less than 7% of the world’s pure water, which is the largest amount of pure water for a country!

The Earth is covered with 71% of water. This is equivalent to 2/3 of the planet’s surface!

The importance of lakes and rivers !

Water is considered the collective heritage of the people of Quebec which means that all of these people must have access to this resource, whether it be to drink, feed themselves or to have access to the energy they produce.
So if these rivers are our heritage, we have to take care of them so that life is protected.

Rivers in Quebec contain immense biodiversity, which means they contain a variety of living organisms.

On the historic site of Val-Jalbert, a mini-power plant generates electricity.
It is an example of the optimal exploitation of waterways which serves man, but which respects the living.
In Quebec, no less than 62 hydroelectric plants light up our homes and cities.

For more informations, you can go to this website :


An ecosystem is the environment in which the fauna and flora evolve. In other words, the ecosystem represents the entire habitat of animals and plants. It is related to a specific environment.

Ouiatchouan Waterfall, Val-Jalbert, Chambord, Québec, Canada, by Maxime Desbiens

What is hidden in this picture ?

Plants at the edge of the stream will not only feed wildlife, but also protect the edge of the river itself.

The fish swim in the river upstream to spawn.

Mammals such as black bears and moose can hide at the edge of rivers for water or food

Frogs and aquatic plants can be found at the edge of rivers, life is everywhere!

Ashuapmuschuan River, Saint-Félicien, Québec, Canada, by Maxime Desbiens

Aquatic Biodiversity: Macroinvertebrates and Company !

Benthic macroinvertebrates are organisms visible to the naked eye, lacking internal skeletons and living on the bottom of rivers. For example, leeches are part of these organisms.

For more information, you can sharpen your knowledge here :


Present in our rivers, they serve as bio-indicators and can tell us whether the river is healthy.

It is the presence of these macroinvertebrates that tells us whether the rivers are healthy. Why? This is because this indicator of health has different tolerances about the pollution. Their presence or absence says a lot about water quality and health.

Saint-Maurice River, Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada, by Maxime Desbiens

The impact of the humankind

The pollution that has been made by men can even reach the water table. Basically, the water table is the reservoir of drinking water underground that serves the water balance of the ecosystem. When this water table is polluted, forests and rivers are affected. We can even say that if a river is polluted, the water table can also be polluted.

The water that is in the water table is our most important source of quality drinking water and it suffers from human abuse and pollution. If we are not careful, the water table can gradually drain and eventually dry up completely.



Lac-Saint-Jean, Saint-Prime, Québec, Canada, by Maxime Desbiens

How am I affected by man ?

The fish:
Fish habitats, such as those of birds, are affected by climate change, which is largely caused by humans.
For example, there could be an eutrophication phenomena that would reduce the amount of oxygen available in the water and thus cause the death of some of the aquatic fauna.

Climate change and macroinvertebrates :
An increase in ambient temperature (global warming) leads to an increase of the rivers temperature. Atmospheric gases such as CO2 will dissolve in water and thus increase the temperature of the water. This increase in temperature has the effect of influencing the life cycle of several aquatic organisms, including macroinvertebrates. Basically, man has a direct impact on climate change and therefore a direct impact on these organisms.

The birds:
Many bird species will use lakes or aquatic habitats to feed, reproduce or as resting areas.
If these habitats are destroyed, it can affect the survival of several species because their breeding and feeding places will no longer be accessible.

Plants and eutrophication:
Eutrophication is an excess of nutrients in water that leads to excessive growth of aquatic plants. These plants will block the sun’s rays, reduce the oxygen supply in the water and thus create an imbalance in the ecosystem.
This contribution may be due to agricultural land discharges, plant discharges, or human activity in general.

Amphibians :
As with fish, some aquatic species can influence amphibian habitat. In Quebec, for example, several cases of exotic species that have invaded lakes and rivers, have been identified. This disruption in the ecosystem can have a real impact on species;
the Red-eared Turtle can cause diseases that can affect existing wildlife.

Microorganisms; fecal coliforms :
In the water, there are thousands of microorganisms that can be beneficial or harmful to the rivers. Fecal coliforms, for example, are present in the water. They are waste from animal feces such as cows and they are heat tolerant. Too much of these coliforms in the water could destroy the ecosystem.

Saguenay River, Saint-Rose-du-Nord, Québec, Canada, by Maxime Desbiens

Potential solutions for river health and human health!

A list of actions you can do to protect rivers :

  • Promote local buying
  • Promote the purchase of natural or organic products.
  • Participate in planting activities.

In short, it all starts with raising awareness about the reality of rivers and the impact of man on them!

To protect our waterways and the habitats around them, we must first change the way we see them. We need to change the way we exploit this wealth of nature to ensure that it remains healthy for a long time. It is by changing the behaviour of everyone that we can, together, protect this indispensable resource, the one we call blue gold.

To help protect our rivers, we can participate in clean-up activities and also raise awareness on not to throw our waste in the wild.

Lac-Saint-Jean, Saint-Prime, Québec, Canada, by Maxime Desbiens

It's up to you now !

Click on the flag and it will take you to the final activity to test your knowledge!
When you get to the site, click on start and the quiz will begin. Good luck

Saint-Laurent River, Tadoussac, Québec, Canada, by Maxime Desbiens