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Adopt a river - Bécancour River

River Bécancour

Photo credit : Katarzyna Skorek and Karine Dandeneault

Adopt the Bécancour River to:

Your contribution allows us to continue to protect Quebec's rivers

The Bécancour River has a broad back: more than 80 rivers flow into it, not counting the entire quantity of mining residues that erode towards it. Despite her injuries, she continued her journey, from the Appalachians to the St. Lawrence River, tireless.

Do you know the Bécancour River?

Name Abenaki

W8linaktegw (“river to the bay”)




Lake Bécancour


Chaudière-Appalaches, Center-du-Québec

Average flow

64 m3/s

Total elevation


A river among the mines

The Bécancour River winds its way among the dumps, these piles of asbestos mining residues in the Thetford Mines region. Mining in the region lasted for over a hundred years between the discovery of chrysotile asbestos and the closure of the very last mine in 2012. This piece of history has unfortunately had repercussions on the river . Even if there are few studies on the impact of asbestos fibers on aquatic ecosystems, the sediments have their share of effects on downstream lakes (mainly Stater Pond and Lac à la Trout): they are enriched in heavy metals, their pH is increasing, and since they fill with sediment, they lose depth and surface area.

The “stinking” river

At the time of colonization, the Bécancour River was already mistreated: it was nicknamed “the stinking river” by the French. The most plausible reason for this name would be linked to the remains of the Abenakis and the Onnontcharonnon Iroquois who fell during a battle between them, according to the writings of the Jesuit Pierre François-Xavier de Charlevoix dating from 1744.

Thetford Mines Photo credit: Pier Gagné – La Semaine Verte 

What are the environmental issues?

Water quality

The water quality of the Bécancour River is deplorable and the mining industry is to blame. A plan to control asbestos residues in Haute-Bécancour was developed by the Bécancour zone watershed consultation group (GROBEC), which also set up a sedimentation basin on one of the mining sites.

Contaminants from agricultural pollution (phosphorus, nitrogen, nitrates) also have an impact on water quality. Moreover, withdrawals from agricultural industries reduce the flow of the river to the point of causing severe low water levels in Lake Joseph, limiting nautical activities. Due to all this contamination, some lakes along the watershed, such as Lake Bécancour, are at an advanced stage. eutrophication. Overflows from overflow structures, inadequate water treatment and poorly listed septic installations also have their share of effects on the water quality of Bécancour. 

At the request of GROBEC, the Fondation Rivières carried out a performance evaluation of municipal wastewater treatment works to identify sanitation issues between 2014 and 2018, intended for municipal decision-makers, interest groups and the public. Support was also provided to target intervention locations for a green infrastructure implementation project. The Foundation carried out a similar mandate for the citizens' committee of the Association for the Protection of the Irish Trout Lake (APLTI) in order to improve the water quality of the Irish Trout Lake and its tributaries. .

Strangely, the Ministry of the Environment (MELCCFP) does not consider the Bécancour River as a mining liability in its latest Action plan for the management of asbestos mining residues 2022-2025. In other words, the government is not committed to taking concrete action to clean up the river of its asbestos contaminants. The Fondation Rivières wishes to join forces with the Irish Trout Lake Protection Association (APLTI) and local organizations so that Bécancour is taken into consideration by the MELCCFP and its National Asbestos Observatory program.

Since 2020, the Fondation Rivières has disclosed the list of municipalities that stand out in terms of the intensity of their wastewater discharges into waterways, including the Bécancour River. This exercise makes it possible to distinguish municipalities which have improved their situation in previous years from those where the situation has deteriorated. THE prize list serves as a lever to encourage elected officials to make the necessary corrections to improve the health of the rivers into which wastewater is discharged.

Invasive species

The Bécancour River acts as a refuge for several endangered or precarious species, such as waterfowl and wood turtles. Conversely, some invasive exotic species are gaining momentum, such as Eurasian watermilfoil, purple loosestrife and common reed.

Bank erosion

Erosion is a real issue for the Bécancour River. There are very few vegetated riparian strips along the river and its tributaries, which has the effect of facilitating water contamination by runoff and causing slides and landslides.

Can you swim in the Bécancour River? 

Unfortunately, the lack of access to water and the quality of the water compromise swimming in the Bécancour River.

Is the Bécancour River navigable?

Yes! Discover the canoe routes of the Bécancour River in accessing the Canot Kayak Québec and Eau Vive Québec map

Parcours canotables - Eau vive Québec et Canot Kayak Québec

Help us by adopting the Bécancour River

The Fondation Rivières is mobilizing on this river to:

Donate and join an important mobilization movement!

Charity receipt

Fondation Rivières issues tax-deductible donation receipts, regardless of the amount. A receipt will be sent to you by email at the beginning of the year following the year of your adoption.

Organizations involved in the field

The Bécancour River was adopted by:

Make a difference for the environment

Become a member of the Foundation by donating. Your contribution allows our team to continue to mobilize to protect Quebec's rivers and waterways for future generations. 

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