Effective water protection involves the cooperation of various sectors, including agriculture. For example, application of manure and pesticides can lead to surface and groundwater contamination. Other problems include bacterial contaminants (E. coli and fecal coliform, for example), or phosphorus and nitrogen runoff into streams, resulting in the proliferation of blue-green algae. From a societal perspective, contamination can mean reduced access to water; i.e., beach closings, boil water advisories, and even an unwillingness to drink tap water. From an agricultural point of view, the quality of waterways is a major concern, since they are a common source for crop irrigation and are directly linked to soil quality and crop safety. In the event of contamination, major financial losses can be incurred.
IRDA, with its 20+ years of experience in hydrography, is well positioned to help protect the water supply in a number of ways. A large part of its Saint-Lambert-de-Lauzon operations, for example, was redesigned to construct micro-watersheds that are unique in Québec. In terms of the qualitative (water quality; presence of contaminants; biological, chemical, and physical characterization, etc.) and quantitative aspects (excess water management, drainage, runoff volume, etc.) of water protection, our experts assess the situation, make a diagnosis, and develop hydrological models of watersheds that take into account the stocks and fluxes of phosphorus and nitrogen, among other things. Besides serving farmers, IRDA has also fulfilled mandates for municipalities and government agencies looking to protect their drinking water intakes and recreational waters.
IRDA has installed 30 micro-watersheds over the past two decades. Also, twelve hydrometric stations are currently in operation.