In Changing Currents: Water Sustainability and the Future of Canada’s Natural Resources Sector, the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) concluded that Canada’s structures for management and governance of water resources weren’t equipped for what the report called an “uncertain water future”.
In its new report released on November 17, 2011, Charting a Course: Sustainable Water Use by Canada’s Natural Resource Sector, the NRTEE describes some of the steps that must be taken, including:
- better understand the future growth of the natural resource sectors and their water requirements;
- recognize the value of water, both in terms of how much it currently costs the sectors and where water pricing may be an incentive for further water efficiency and conservation;
- ensure that water strategies and policies include a suite of new policy instruments that are readily available for implementation, including water pricing and voluntary initiative options;
- develop comprehensive water data and information systems, taking stock of both water supplies and water demands, particularly in the most vulnerable watersheds in the country; and
- promote further collaborative water governance in appropriate circumstances, such as in the need for water strategy development.
The Report goes on to recommend how these goals could be achieved.
The natural resource sector is the most significant water users in Canada – nearly 86% of Canada’s water use in 2005. We should move quickly to ensure that water is available to all users, including the ecosystems which rely on healthy water systems. As one of the principles for water governance proposed by the NRTEE states: “Water has value — in economic, environmental, and social terms — and should be managed in trust without harm to its sustainability or that of the ecosystems in which it occurs.”
By Meredith James and Dianne Saxe