Community-based initiatives

Our multidisciplinary research team explores water related issues and priorities at the community level. Research initiatives are divided into two research priorities:  

Community-based water monitoring  

For decades, Community-based monitoring (CBM) has been used as a tool to support Canada’s monitoring of freshwater. The absence of freshwater data in many communities in Canada prompted communities living on the shores of lakes, rivers and creeks to monitor the quality of the water. Local communities have thus played a significant role in supporting decision making. Our research team explores the surge of community-based water monitoring initiatives as well as the linkages between local data produced by citizens and governmental decision-making.  

Community engagement and participation

For decades, community associations, local environmental organizations, and citizens have been significant advocates for better water quality and protection of water ecosystems. Our research team analyzes community engagement and participation in policymaking including citizens participation in public consultations for the creation of the Canada Water Agency. We also explore citizens’ involvement in water governance and management mechanisms, as well as social movements prompted by local actors to encourage governments to deploy a diversity of political and judicial tools to further protect freshwater in Canada. Our work includes case studies of recent community-based calls to grant legal personhood to several rivers in Canada following the Magpie River recent granting of legal personhood.  


Local and Community Based Water Governance

June 2022

Presented by the University of Ottawa’s Forum on Water Law and Governance, in partnership with the Centre for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability, the Public Law Centre, the Centre on Governance, and the Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue



Janie Larivière, Table de la concertation de la rivière des Outaouais

Jean Ked Neptune, Sustainable Eastern Ontario

Laura Reinsborough, Ottawa Riverkeeper

Dominique Bien-Aimé, CREDDO & Canadian Red Cross


Thomas Burelli, University of Ottawa

Lauren Touchant, University of Ottawa


Local and community stakeholders play a key role in the development and implementation of water governance. They are at the base of a complex process and the leading actors on the field. However, their resources are often limited, and their roles remain little discussed.

With a focus on social science and law, this event will explore the diversity of issues, challenges, and dynamics of local water governance. More specifically, this roundtable will focus on water stakeholders at the local and community level and will propose a discussion between actors from the Ottawa watershed.