PIV du Gouvernement du Québec

Integrated watershed management

The management and prevention of flood risk requires that water management be addressed at the watershed level. Integrated watershed water management has been a central concern of the Government of Québec for more than 20 years. This particular management mode makes it possible to evaluate all activities that may impact the water resource and its associated environments, thus contributing to harmonizing the multiple uses of water and preserving them for future generations. Flood control and dam management solutions need to be thought through at the watershed level in order to achieve a better understanding of upstream and downstream impacts and foster a better understanding and appropriation of water management-related dangers (flooding, drought, water quality, etc.). The aim of this Plenary Session was to describe the medium- and long-term action needed to rethink our practices and behaviour in order to optimize the management of water at the watershed level and help reduce the impact of flooding on our living environments.


  • Antoine Verville, Acting General Manager, Regroupement des organismes de bassins versants du Québec
  • Julie Lafleur, Operations manager, Direction principale des barrages publics of the Québec, Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques
  • Bernard Poulin, Vice-President, Production Equipment Operation, Hydro-Québec
  • Nicolas Milot, Associate Professor, Institut des sciences de l’environnement, Université du Québec à Montréal



Please note that some references quoted on this page may only be available in French.

Government of Québec initiatives

  • Water Act (French only) [PDF]
    The Act to Affirm the Collective Nature of Water Resources and Provide for Increased Water Resource Protection (Water Act) affirms the legal status of water as a collective resource that forms part of the common heritage of the Québec nation. It oversees the mechanisms that deal with the integrated management of water resources and empowers organizations to participate in its implementation through watershed organizations known as OBVs and regional round tables for the integrated management zones of the St. Lawrence River.
  • Act respecting the Conservation of Wetlands and Bodies of Water [PDF]
    The Government of Québec adopted the Act respecting the Conservation of Wetlands and Bodies of Water, SQ 2017, c 14, in June 2017. This law aims at stopping the net loss of wetland and hydric environments through conservation, restoration and/or new environment creation, as well as land development planning from a watershed viewpoint, taking greater account of the functions of these essential environments. The law also implements a new, modern, clear and predictable regime that is optimized for the conservation of these environments.
  • Québec Water Policy, 2002 [PDF] 
    This policy brought forth a reform of water governance based on integrated watershed management. Its implementation also targeted the St. Lawrence River, and recognized the river’s special status.
  • Hydroclimatic Atlas of Southern Québec, 2015 [PDF]
    The Hydroclimatic Atlas of Southern Québec presents a synthesis of the expected impact of climate change on the Southern Québec hydric regime by 2050. Its aim was to support the implementation of measures for adapting to climate change.


Experience within Québec


Experience in other parts of Canada


International experience

  • Marche à suivre – Gestion par bassin versant (Watershed Management Procedures), Office fédéral de l’environnement de la Suisse, 2013. Available in French and German on the Office fédéral de l’environnement Suisse website.
    Following the 2011 adoption of Agenda 21 and the Idées directrices pour une gestion intégrée de l’eau in Switzerland, this document describes the implementation phases of that type of management: Analysis of pre-existing conditions (including funding) and citizen participation; an initiative phase, during which coordination needs are assessed; and the establishment of a management cycle based in part on a development framework and an action plan.
  • Le ralentissement dynamique pour la prévention des inondations, 2004, France (English abstract title is: Dynamic Flood Slowing Down sSrategy for Flood Management. A Strategy Combining Controlled Floodplain Flooding and Small Mitigation Dams). Full French (but not English) text available on the Institut national de recherche en sciences et technologies pour l’environnement et l’agriculture website.
    This publication is a compendium of useful technical and regulatory information for flood control projects. It demonstrates the need to define a comprehensive watershed-level flood prevention strategy prior to calibrating land-use projects.
  • Governing for Integrated Water and Flood Risk Management: Comparing Top-Down and Bottom-Up Approaches in Spain and California. Anna Serra-Llobet, Esther Conrad and Kathleen Schaefer, 2016. Water
    This article compares two modes of water governance: the“bottom-up” one observed in the San Francisco Bay, which accentuates citizen collaboration and participation, and the “top-down” one in Catalonia that is built around a clearly designated authority. The results of the comparison highlight the need to achieve a balance between the two governance modes in order to improve efficiency.