Thursday, October 15, 2009

Responsibility for Canada's water stewardship is awfully murky

Penny Collenette in the Montreal Gazette, via the Ottawa Citizen: Canadian universities and think tanks are awash in studies about water -- water scarcity, water pollution, water leakage, water levels and the growing need for water security as climate change becomes a reality. Even Guy Laliberté has found it necessary to speak from his space pulpit, warning Canadians to wake up to the need for water conservation.

Evidence from many of these studies points to a patchwork system of jurisdictional confusion, historical mistakes, research gaps and uneven standards. Just as worrying as the need for conservation is the need for clarification.

First, confidence is not inspired by the governance of our system. The current concept of watershed management, or place-based approaches, which acknowledge that what enters the water "over there" directly affects the water "here," has not penetrated our political consciousness.

….Secondly, our appreciation of water is insensitive. While we may have built our cities around water, we fixated on streets and pavement, not rivers or lakes. While we funded great buildings, we did so at the expense of water infrastructure maintenance.

…And then there is our water economy. Most Canadians use water at will, mostly because it is inexpensive and reasonably safe. … This "ease of water" may lead Canadians to use more water per capita than any other country besides the United States. Water is cheap and we are careless with it.

Yet, in spite of these challenges, it is not too late for Canada to demonstrate water leadership by acknowledging that water is more than just a blue icon. Water is integral to our very existence and without access to safe and plentiful water, our health as individuals, and our wealth as a country are in jeopardy….

Cold Lake in Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada, shot by Staff Sgt. Derrick C. Goode, Wikimedia Commons

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