© Terry Kelly Saint John River

Saint John River

WWF-Canada is working with the local community to ensure that this river and its resources remain healthy and secure.

The Maliseet people call it wolastoq, meaning “beautiful river.” And when you see the Saint John River, it’s easy to understand why. People have lived here for more than 10,000 years. The maze of blind bays, tributaries, lakes and marshlands has been the lifeblood of New Brunswick and a significant part of Canada’s history. People living in the towns that grew along the Saint John’s banks followed the rhythm of the river’s freezes and thaws, log drives and floods and the run of Atlantic salmon coursing from the Bay of Fundy upriver to spawn.

© Terry Kelly View of Saint John River

What is the Issue?

Growing development in the watershed has negatively affected the health of the Saint John. Agricultural runoff, point-source pollution like spills from municipalities and industrial sites, as well as fragmentation from dams, roads and rail infrastructure has increased the level of stress on the river. Water quality is of particular concern as the levels of certain contaminants have regularly exceeded water quality thresholds.

Climate change is also adding compounding pressure on the river system, resulting in an increased frequency and intensity of rain, blizzards, ice, and windstorms leading to flooding, habitat loss and degradation. Along with ecosystem damage, these events have had significant impacts on the local community – including negative health effects, infrastructure damage, and economic loss. This great, historic river is at risk from increasing and compounding stressors.

What WWF-Canada is Doing

Planning for Resilience

To promote a healthy and resilient watershed that supports rich biodiversity and vibrant economies, the Saint John River watershed must be restored after years of damage from pollution and habitat fragmentation. WWF-Canada is using collaborative action and the best science available to develop an action plan to restore more natural flows to the river and its tributaries.

Through community-level grants like Loblaw Water Fund and WWF-Canada’s Restoration Fund, made possible through a partnership with Coca-Cola Canada, WWF-Canada is supporting on-the-ground conservation efforts that include improving water quality, fish monitoring and stream restoration projects. We supported the development of Atlantic Datastream – a tool for collecting and sharing data across communities, agencies and groups. We also partner with local municipalities to assess vulnerabilities and develop adaptation plans that include restoring ecosystems and building natural infrastructure. Each year, WWF-Canada hosts an annual Saint John River Summit that brings experts, government agencies, First Nations, watershed groups and communities together to learn, share, discuss and experience the river, leading to a healthier and more resilient Saint John River.

WWF-Canada is working with a diversity of actors along the river, in partnership with RSA Canada and Brock University, to build a model for regional water management that can be replicated in other at-risk communities across Canada.

© Terry Kelly Woman looking at Saint John River

What You Can Do

North American beaver

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Testing Freshwater

Generation Water Technology Challenge

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Shoreline Cleanup Participants

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

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© Terry Kelly / WWF-Canada landscape of freshwater

Learn More About our Freshwater Work

WWF-Canada is working towards a future where all Canadian waters are in good condition, by building water-resilient communities, bringing big-water data to decision-making tables and creating a culture of water stewardship across the country.

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