Canada’s troubled waters: Rob de Loë and Blair Feltmate comment

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Not only is it a myth that Canada has an abundance of readily accessible water, say researchers, but we're poorly managing what we do have.

The fact that Canada faces real threats to its water security will surprise many Canadians, as the popular perception is that we are a country with a virtually inexhaustible supply of water.

“It’s a myth of abundance and it has affected water policy. It’s allowed us to be a little bit lazy,” says Rob de Loë, a professor in the faculty of environment, resources and sustainability at the University of Waterloo and a member of its Water Institute.

Dr. de Loë notes that much of Canada’s water is simply not accessible. Although we possess about 20 percent of global freshwater resources, only seven percent is considered renewable – and most of that drains north toward Hudson’s Bay and the Arctic Ocean, putting it out of reach of the roughly 90 percent of Canadians who live within 160 kilometres from the nation’s southern border. “You tell people in Ontario that we have a limited amount of water and they will point to the Great Lakes and laugh,” he says. “But you can only take a modest amount of water from the lakes without doing damage. The lakes aren’t like a keg at a college beer party where you empty one, then just roll out another one.”

Read the entire article in University Affairs here.

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