Water experts are seeking public opinion and input for the recently published report on the health of the Saint John River through a series of workshops across the province. The Rivers Tour Series, which kicks off on Monday, Nov. 14, in Hammond River, will visit eight communities over two weeks.

The Saint John River: A State of the Environment Report, released by the Canadian Rivers Institute (CRI) at the University of New Brunswick in July of this year, highlights concerns such as nutrient loading, changes to fish communities, and changes to flow regimes.

In a joint effort by CRI, Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) and The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), researchers aim to connect with local communities and exchange ideas on how to improve the environmental quality of the Saint John River.

Allen Curry, director of the Canadian River’s Institute at UNB, says making connections with communities that are located along the Saint John River will allow researchers to capture and address the priorities for positive changes.

“This initiative will not only allow us to present our findings from the State of the Environment Report, but it will also give us the opportunity to find out what priorities the river users have and find ways to stay connected with these users to build capacity and improve our watershed,” says Curry.

Stephanie Merrill, Freshwater Protection Program Director for CCNB, says they’re looking forward to the tour, as the state of the Saint John River was the first issue CCNB tackled after their formation in 1969.  

“We saw then how citizens working together can bring about positive change for the river,” said Merrill.

From a national perspective, the opportunity is key to tackling some of the biggest challenges to Canadian rivers.

“When we released our ‘Rivers at Risk’ report in 2009, which detailed the health of some of Canada’s most iconic rivers, the Saint John stood out as facing significant challenges,” said Tony Maas, Director of WWF’s Freshwater Program. “This tour is an important step towards improving the health of the Saint John River that can also serve as a model approach to engaging communities in water awareness and river stewardship across Canada.”

For more details and a full agenda, visit: http://www.conservationcouncil.ca/files/PDF/SJR_tour__background_with_agenda.pdf

For interviews or questions, please contact:

Allen Curry
Director, Canadian Rivers Institute, UNB
racurry@unb.ca
(506) 452-6208

Stephanie Merrill
Freshwater Protection Program Director, CCNB
water@ccnbaction.ca
(506) 458-8747 or (506) 261-8317

Weiwei Su
Communications Specialist, WWF
wsu@wwfcanada.org
(416) 489 4567 ext 7234

About Canadian Rivers Institute

Canadian Rivers Institute is a national aquatic sciences research group at the University of New Brunswick. CRI works to develop the aquatic science needed to sustain water resources here in New Brunswick and around the world. In the summer of 2011, CRI released their “State of the Environment” report focused over 100 studies on the Saint John River. CRI will present the general findings of their report in the specific area where each session will be held.  www.unb.ca/cri

About CCNB

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick was founded in 1969 to address aquatic and human health associated with the degradation of the Saint John River. After 40 years, CCNB is engaged in freshwater protection again with a program aimed at advocating for a holistic and integrated approach to water management in the face of increasing pressures from pollution, climate change and industrial demand.  CCNB will speak to provincial water policy challenges and facilitate the discussion to identify local priorities and ways to connect moving forward.     www.ccnbaction.ca

About WWF

WWF is creating solutions to the most serious conservation challenges facing our planet, helping people and nature thrive. www.wwf.ca