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Reducing nutrient pollution to the St. Lawrence River
Target 3.3: Freshwater quality – Complete federal actions to reduce pollutants and restore beneficial uses in hot spots in the St. Lawrence River by 2016.
Phosphorus levels at six of nine water quality monitoring stations along the St. Lawrence River consistently exceeded water quality guidelines from 2008 to 2011. Higher phosphorus levels are found in agricultural areas on the south shore of Lake Saint-Pierre.
Through the St. Lawrence Action Plan, the governments of Canada and Quebec have reduced pollutants in the St. Lawrence River. Since 1988, the first 24 years of the Plan resulted in:
- A 96% reduction in toxic effluent discharges by 50 priority industrial points;
- The establishment of the Saguenay-St. Laurent Marine Park;
- Protection of over 100,000 hectares (ha) of natural habitat; and,
- An improvement to approximately 50 wharfs and other marine infrastructures.
In 2011, the Government of Canada signed a 15-year agreement with the Government of Quebec to continue their collaboration to protect and restore the health of the St. Lawrence River ecosystem by renewing the St. Lawrence Action Plan until 2026. The action plan will support conservation and enhancement of the St. Lawrence River, maintain and develop science-based monitoring and prediction programs, and establish grounds for the integrated governance of the ecosystem.
The government regularly provides information to Canadians on the progress being made in the St. Lawrence River through reports and detailed fact sheets on environmental indicators showing the levels of pollutants in the St. Lawrence River.
For additional information on the implementation strategies that support this target, please consult the following website: Environment Canada.
Progress towards Target 3.3: Phosphorus levels in the St. Lawrence River
As the above actions indicate, the governments of Canada and Quebec continue to work on reducing pollutants in the St. Lawrence River. The challenge is significant and continued efforts are required. Phosphorus levels at six of nine water quality monitoring stations along the St. Lawrence River consistently exceeded water quality guidelines from 2008 to 2011. Higher phosphorus levels are found in agricultural areas on the south shore of Lake Saint-Pierre.
Figure 3.7 shows phosphorus levels in the St. Lawrence River for 2008 to 2011. For the most up-to-date information on this indicator, please visit CESI.
Figure 3.7: Phosphorus levels in the St. Lawrence River for 2008–2011
The map presents the status of phosphorus levels at nine water quality monitoring stations along the St. Lawrence River. The status for each station for 2008 to 2011 is determined by comparing measured phosphorus levels to water quality guidelines at each station. The phosphorus status for the station at Carillon is good and is poor for the stations at Lavaltrie, Richelieu, Yamaska, Satin-Francois, Nicolet and Becancour. The stations at Quebec City and Saint-Maurice have a caution status.
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