National Round Table warns of water scarcity

June 18, 2010

Yesterday, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (of which I am a member) released

Changing Currents: Water Sustainability and the Future of Canada’s Natural Resource Sectors.

The report examines the water use of Canada’s energy, agriculture, mining, and forest sectors – which together account for the great bulk of the country’s water use. It also looks at the importance of water to our ecosystems. It asks: As populations increase, resource sectors grow, and water supplies change with a changing climate, will we have enough water to support economic growth while maintaining the health of our ecosystems?

The report warns that water is neither as plentiful nor secure as many believe it to be. The apparent abundance of water, it says, masks a looming scarcity challenge. Several regions are currently facing water shortages, and scarcity is expected to increase in the future.

Changing Currents is the first of two reports. For our second report we will explore solutions to the challenges identified here and recommend policies for sustainable water management. We will look at ways to improve the collection and management of water-use data, evaluate different methods of allocating water, examine alternative approaches to governance, and explore policy instruments for water management, including pricing and other market-based instruments.

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