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Study on river water quality: swimming is possible in summer in the Sorel region

Parc Henri-Letendre à Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel - qualité de l'eau


Montreal on June 6, 2023 – In this Water Month and Saint Lawrence Week, the Fondation Rivières, the City of Saint-Joseph-de-Sorel and the Municipality of Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel are making public the results of a study which reveals that in summer and in dry weather, the water of the river at the edge of the Pointe-aux-Pins park, in Saint-Joseph-de-Sorel, and the Henri-Letendre park, in Sainte-Anne-de -Sorel, is suitable for swimming. This is a first step towards public access to water where there is For almost 100 years, the banks of the areas studied were important vacation spots in Montérégie.

Bathing standards, the maximum threshold of which is 200 CFU/100 mL in Quebec, have always been respected in dry weather at these sites. A period of dry weather corresponds to any day for which precipitation over the last three days, including the current day, is less than 5 mm. The numerous wastewater overflows from throughout the Sorel region lead to a temporary degradation of water quality due to rains which overload the sewer network. Swimming is therefore not recommended if the rain over the last 3 days (including the same day) totals more than 10 mm. Nevertheless, 88 % of the rainy periods studied allowed the practice of non-motorized water activities (kayak, canoe, paddle board, etc.), for which the maximum threshold is 1,000 CFU/100 mL.

Next steps

According to the results of this study and the historical performance of the wastewater network throughout the territory, the Fondation Rivières recommends interventions to reduce the frequency of overflows in rainy weather, in particular through the establishment of green infrastructure, the separation of the unitary network and the disconnection of gutters, flat roofs and dewatering pumps. Without inaugurating a supervised beach, the City of Saint-Joseph-de-Sorel and the Municipality of Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel are considering targeted sampling during rain to confirm contamination trends.

The combination of the efforts of Saint-Joseph-de-Sorel, Sorel-Tracy and Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel would make it possible to tackle the reduction of wastewater overflows. The general director of Fondation Rivières, André Bélanger, says he is optimistic about the prospect of such a consultation. “The collaboration will not fail to bring about even more diversified recreational tourism in the Sorel region, already popular with fans of kayaking, canoeing and, increasingly, paddleboarding. »

The mayor of Saint-Joseph-de-Sorel, Vincent Deguise, says he is confident that this approach will help change the population's perspective with regard to water quality: "We tend to associate the industrial sector with water quality. The study shows that the water quality is good and that it is possible to provide citizens with access to water.”

Initiator of the project, the mayor of Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel, Michel Péloquin, is enthusiastic about this idea. “We want citizens to be able to reclaim the river in the same place where a beach made the area famous in the 1930s.”

A Big Splash in Saint-Joseph-de-Sorel this summer

Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel's desire to provide access to the river was first demonstrated by the organization of a Grand Splash at Henri-Letendre Park in 2022. This year, the Grand Splash will travel to Saint-Joseph-de-Sorel, to Pointe-aux-Pins park. Organized by the City of St-Joseph-de-Sorel as well as the Pure Air Nature Water Coalition (CENAP), based in Pierre-De Saurel, the event is the symbol of the Cities' commitment to continuing their efforts to protect water and to provide safe access to its population. 

Led by the Fondation Rivières, the Grand Splash is a form of event which aims to democratize access to waterways. The population is invited to get into the water in safe places, which do not have the status of public access to water, but which have the potential to become so.


The Fondation Rivières took water from the river at Pointe-aux-Pins park and Henri-Letendre park, three times a week between June 27 and September 28, 2022. The analysis was carried out on the basis of the enumeration ofEscherichia coli (E.coli) and enzymatic analyses. Industrial discharges were not measured as part of this study since, in recreational waters, the potential chemical risks associated with industrial discharges are much lower than the microbiological risks. In most cases, typical concentrations of chemicals measured in water are not high enough to cause acute or chronic illness in exposed users.

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Photo: Henri-Letendre Park. Credit: Fondation Rivières


Picture of Sophie Lachance

Sophie Lachance

Communications and Mobilization Manager
Fondation Rivières
514-272-2666, ext. 307

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