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NEWS: Barlow comments on Statistics Canada water report

The Canadian Press reports in The Globe and Mail today that, “A new (Statistics Canada) report says renewable water resources have declined in Southern Canada (by 1.4 million Olympic-sized swimming pools each year) over the past three decades.”

The article notes that renewable water resources are, “the result of precipitation and melted ice that flow over and under the ground, eventually reaching rivers and lakes.”

Natural Resources Canada has stated that there will be “decreases in water availability resulting from increased intensity and frequency of drought, declining snowpack and glacier diminution” in Canada. NRC says, “Canada’s glaciers hold /water resources equivalent to all of the water contained by our lakes and rivers. As a Nordic country, much of Canada’s freshwater is derived from seasonal and perennial snow and ice, which exerts important controls on the timing and magnitude of water fluxes.” And they note, “Glaciers play a role in recharging groundwater aquifers. This aspect of our hydrology is critical to understanding the variability of water supply under a changing climate…”

The Canadian Press reports, “A prominent author and water activist says climate change is just part of the problem. Maude Barlow, head of the Council of Canadians and the United Nations’ senior adviser on water issues, says Canadians take water for granted. ‘We’ve always thought we’re immune from that. ‘Oh, that’s somewhere in Africa, that’s somewhere in India,’ she said. ‘No, it’s right here. Obviously it’s not the kind of crisis it is in other places, but we have a declining water stock in this country.’”

The Statistics Canada report also highlights, “Water… is embedded in the goods and services that we rely on. This embedded water, also referred to as ‘virtual’ water content, refers to the water used to make a product, including in the generation of the energy used in manufacturing, as well as all the water in all the inputs used in production. …Of all the water withdrawn by Canadians in 2005, 63% was used to satisfy internal domestic demand for goods and services, and the remaining 37% was used to produce goods for export.” The Council of Canadians will be issuing a report on virtual water in the coming weeks.

In October 2008, the Council of Canadians and MiningWatch Canada made public a report drafted by Environment Canada in December 2007 revealing that the agency had documented crucial information regarding the looming freshwater crisis in Canada. The report, titled A Federal Perspective on Water Quantity Issues, which was obtained through an Access To Information request warns “there may be heightened risk for jurisdictional conflict for water allocation between provinces and also between Canada and the United States.” The Environment Canada report also highlights the myth of abundance of freshwater in Canada and emphasizes that only 1% of Canada’s total water supply is renewed annually. It points to unsustainable industrial consumption of water in the energy and agricultural sectors.

The Canadian Press report can be read at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/water-resources-declining-in-southern-canada/article1705092/ and http://www.lethbridgeherald.com/content/view/231350/111/.

The Statistics Canada report is at http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/100913/dq100913b-eng.htm.

Our October 2008 media release is at http://canadians.org/media/water/2008/06-Oct-08.html.