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StatCan releases research on water levels in Canada

Statistics Canada released updated numbers to their water yield study today. In 2010, it released a study that found that there was an 8.5% decrease in renewable water sources – water from rain and snow – from 1971-2004. 

Today StatCan released annual water yields up to 2013 in Southern Canada and various water basins. The updated figures for Southern Canada give a snapshot of water levels over a 41-year period. StatCan notes, “water yield is the result of precipitation and melted ice that flow over and under the ground, eventually reaching our rivers and lakes.”

StatCan will release a detailed trend analysis of these updated figures next spring, which will include seasonal variability. However, a basic linear trend indicates a general decline in recent decades (see photo above).

In 2010, CBC reported on StatCan’s original study: “Overall, the freshwater supply fell by an average 3.5 cubic kilometres a year during those 34 years, a drop of 8.5 per cent, the Statistics Canada study found. The total annual renewable freshwater supply for Southern Canada, where about 98 per cent of the population lives, is about 1,326 cubic kilometres, compared to 3,470 for Canada as a whole.”

With climate change, gutted freshwater protections and industrial projects threatening water sources, the Council of Canadians calls on the Trudeau government to add a Minister of Water to cabinet, as countries like Australia, India and South Africa have done. A Minister of Water is needed to urgently to deliver on Trudeau’s campaign promise of restoring and strengthening freshwater protections. The Globe and Mail recently reported that industries are pushing back on the Trudeau government’s move to restore environmental regulations yet many communities, environmental groups and First Nations are eager to see Trudeau fulfill his campaign promise to restore and strengthen environmental protections. 

The Council is also calling for a national water policy, to be developed on a nation-to-nation basis with Indigenous peoples, that protects water, recognizes Indigenous water rights and enshrines water as a human right.

*The full study on the 2010 figures can also be read here