St. Lawrence Action Plan
Concerns for the health of the St. Lawrence are not new. Since the early 1970s, the water quality of the river has been at the heart of debates. Findings are growing as to how bacteriological and toxic pollution is restricting the restoration and overall development of the use of the river for economic, social and environmental purposes.
In 1988, the provincial and federal governments teamed up to invest in the clean-up of the St. Lawrence: the St. Lawrence Vision 2000 Action Plan was born. The first objective of this plan was to combat chemical pollution in the St. Lawrence River, which was achieved in partnership with some fifty factories deemed to be high priority.
In 1993 and 1998, two other phases were signed between the Canadian and Quebec governments as well as numerous partners. In addition to adding 56 plants to the list of priority factories for the reduction of toxic products, the action plan also expanded its area of intervention. Furthermore, ZIP committees (zones d’intervention prioritaire, or areas of primary concern) were established in the context of Phase II. Maintenance of biodiversity, agricultural rehabilitation, human protection, water level management and navigation are other target areas of the action plan.
At the end of these three phases, measurable improvements and concrete interventions had been realized. One of the greatest achievements of the St. Lawrence Vision 2000 is the reduction of industrial toxic waste in the St. Lawrence and the implementation of less polluting processes; the vast majority of the 106 priority factories targeted in the action plan have “gone green”.
For Phase IV (2005-2010), the Canadian and Quebec governments have taken a new approach with their partners for increasingly integrated management. This St. Lawrence Plan (SLP) is part of a sustainable development initiative whose environmental, economic and social aspects are indissociable.
Phase V of the St. Lawrence Action Plan (2011-2026), encourages stakeholders to focus their actions around three issues: biodiversity (exotic invasive species, impacts of climate change, loss of habitat), water quality (pollution reduction) as well as sustainable use (coastal erosion, improvement of public access to the river).