Isabelle Girard, watercourse manager for the Nicolet-Yamaska RCM
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(4 minutes, 12 seconds)
INTERVIEW WITH ISABELLE GIRARD
My name is Isabelle Girard. For the past two and a half years, I have worked for the RCM as a watercourse manager and as head inspector of landslide-prone areas. My work at the RCM involves ensuring water flows normally in the watercourses that fall under the jurisdiction of the RCM; I also support the regional assistant inspectors in applying the regulations for landslide-prone areas, which have been effect since 2003 in the Nicolet-Yamaska RCM.
A landslide occurs when a mass of earth suddenly and rapidly slides downhill. A slope, or a part of a slope, collapses under the effect of gravity. Landslides can be triggered when the stability of a slope is affected by human activities or natural conditions. For example, if excavation work is carried out at the bottom of a slope, the geometry of the slope will be modified. That can trigger a landslide.
If the riverbank is made of clay, the water can erode the base of the bank. This can also trigger a landslide. Here in the Nicolet-Yamaska RCM, the landslide-prone areas, where landslides are most likely, are mainly along the Nicolet, Saint-François and Bécancour Rivers. These locations feature many clay banks.
There was a landslide here in summer 2012, along the Nicolet River. There was probably erosion at the bottom of the bank, most likely caused by the river. The erosion changed the geometry of the bank, and eventually it collapsed.
Erosion at the bottom of a bank is due to the force of the current, which wears away the soil and digs a hole underneath the surface at the base of the slope. In a landslide-prone area, vegetation is only superficial. And the problems generally arise beneath the surface. Trees and roots can only stabilize the surface.
I make sure the regulations are followed. Under our regulations, no work can be done on certain sections of the banks, both at the top and the bottom of the bank. The regulations govern all human activities that could set off a landslide-prone area. I make sure regulations are followed in those areas. We have created charts of the landslide-prone areas, which identify the sections of our territory that are most likely to be affected by landslides. These charts are our main tools.
I was trained as a scientist; I have a degree in Mathematics and a Master's in Environment. So of course I'm interested in protecting the water, and protecting the environment in general.