People & Places

THIS CITY: Zebra Mussels Wreak Havoc With Ottawa River Ecosystem

This article was originally published in the May 2015 print edition of Ottawa Magazine

Illustration by Michael George Haddad
Illustration by Michael George Haddad

By Matt Harrison

Stemming the flow of raw sewage flooding into the river after heavy rainfalls is one of the major problems being addressed by the Ottawa River Action Plan (ORAP). Indeed, earlier phases of the plan have already significantly reduced pollution entering the river. The final phase of the ORAP — building large storage tanks to contain overflow — is supposed to kick into gear this summer, but it requires provincial and federal funding, and so far, none has been promised. [Update: $65 million in federal funding was announced in April.]

But rethinking the Ottawa River isn’t such a bad idea. In fact, it may lead to a more holistic approach — one that addresses not only overflow but other factors affecting the health of the river.

The zebra mussel — and the herculean task of rescuing native mussel populations from its death grip — provides a perfect example. (more…)