Ottawa River, Ontario - Marny Girard
I was enrolled in kayak lessons at Brittania Beach when I was 12. We were learning to do barrel roles, which involves fully immersing yourself in the water. I was apprehensive, as the beach was closed to swimmers that day. I wondered why the water had been deemed unfit for swimmers. If it was dangerous to swim in, should I be putting my head under the water? I went to the library and researched the possible sources of contamination for the Ottawa River. It was then that I learned about combined sewage overflow, E. coli and fecal coliforms, a lot to process for a twelve year old. I was concerned about the organisms that lived in and around the water. It was the first time that I understood that the Ottawa River is a commons and not a receptacle for our waste. I have subsequently learned of many other cumulative threats to the Ottawa River, which can be generalized to most rivers that are in urban or developed areas.