Canada is generously endowed with natural resources, including 20% of the world’s freshwater resources. The country’s natural landscape is dotted with glaciers, rivers, and vast expanses of lakes, all contributing to the abundance of freshwater in Canada. Another source of freshwater in the region is groundwater. In fact,10 million Canadians depend on groundwater for domestic and industrial use. This number will rise in the coming years as the population increases and other water sources decrease.
However, these natural freshwater sources are now at risk thanks to drastic climate changes. We continue to see melting glaciers, unpredictable flows in rivers, and a growing population of toxic algae in our lakes. These climate changes manifest in frequent droughts, wildfires, and floods. When combined with a growing population and increased demand for water, you realize water conservation is no longer a future goal but a crucial initiative that needs to take place immediately.
Water Use in Canada
Canadians use 9% of the country’s freshwater, where only 1% of it is renewable freshwater. Further, Canadian households are the third highest consumers of freshwater behind thermal-electric power generation and manufacturing plants. Unfortunately, this makes Canadians one of the highest water consumers in the world.
About a decade ago, Canadians consumed 330 litres of water every day. Fortunately, thanks to a growing sensitization of conservation and several water conservation activities, this has reduced to about 250 litres of water daily. Bathroom activities and washing take up the largest part of water consumed. For instance, flushing the toilet takes up to 11 litres of water per a single flush.
Why is Water Conservation Critical Now?
While most Canadians have access to clean and safe water, this is not always the case. About 60% of freshwater in Canada drains to the north. However, 85% of the population is in the South. This discrepancy means that various regions, even those around the freshwater basin, sometimes experience long-term water shortages.
Climate change also means that river flow is unpredictable, while droughts and floods have increased. If water conservation initiatives are not put in place, then commercial fishing activities and agricultural practices, which contribute significantly to Canada’s economy, could suffer. Even worse, not taking initiative could mean that more Canadians would endure the inaccessibility of clean and safe water as time goes by.
Finally, Canada has a greater responsibility to conserve its freshwater sources seeing as it stewards 20% of the entire world’s freshwater. Unfortunately, our country lacks the cohesiveness needed between federal governments, local governments, indigenous communities, NGOs, and the public to make significant strides in conservation.
The answer to these issues lies in sturdy water conservation initiatives cutting across the federal, local, community, and individual levels.
How is Canada Progressing Towards its Water Conservation Goals?
Canada’s federal and local governments have already taken steps to enhance water conservation. Here are various initiatives taken by Canada’s government regarding water conservation.
Build Canada Fund
The Build Canada Fund is a scheme helping First Nation communities and municipalities to upgrade wastewater treatment facilities to keep waterways pollution free.
Collection of water quality data
Canada’s government has also invested in a specialist network to collect water quality data in over 3000 sites. The relevant agencies then use this data to improve water quality or prevent pollution early.
Eco Action Projects
In 2019, Canada launched several Eco Action projects to reduce plastic pollution in the waterways of four communities in Northwestern Ontario and the Lake Superior Basin. Once completed, it’s estimated that these projects will:
On the other hand, provinces are also doing their share in several methods. For example, the Capital Region District has implemented various initiatives to improve water conservation in the province, such as:
As much as the federal and local governments have a central role in water conservation, Canadians also have a part to play in this. Here are a few things you can do at home to conserve and reduce water wastage.
Even with these initiatives, we still have a long way to go before removing the risks of water wastage and depletion of freshwater sources.
HomeWise’s Contribution to Freshwater Conservation in Canada
HomeWise, a residential and commercial plumbing and drainage company in Victoria, BC, is deeply concerned about freshwater conservation. To contribute to the fight against water wastage and the plight of conservation, Homewise regularly donates to prominent water conservation organizations in the BC area.