3.2 Water protection and conservation

by Craig Cantin | November 29, 2011 12:32 pm

Freshwater is the lifeblood of Earth. Protecting and conserving freshwater is a major political challenge for the 21st century. Looking down from space, one sees that Canada encompasses one of the Earth’s most freshwater-abundant regions. On the ground, however, the story is different. Our water use is geographically concentrated; 60% of our water flows north while over 90% of our population is concentrated along our southern border. Sadly, Canadians are among the world’s most inefficient users of water, wasting more water per capita than any other nation on Earth except for the United States. While Europe has considerably reduced its water consumption, Canadians continue to put a heavy strain on water infrastructures and drain our valuable freshwater reserves.

As stewards of 9% of the world’s renewable water, we are ethically bound to conserving it for this and future generations. Ground water in Canada makes up over 90% of Canada’s fresh water. This resource is being exploited by oil and gas activities all across Canada with little to no knowledge of the impacts to major aquifers that are supported by the surface water. While most citizens have access to safe water, Health Canada indicates that as many as 85 First Nations communities (under the sole jurisdiction of the federal government) are under boil-water advisories. As our population, economic activities, and communities grow, water problems will become increasingly common. Some, like Walkerton and Kashechewan, are related to water quality; others, like recent droughts in the prairies and southern Ontario, are water quantity issues; some span provincial borders; others national borders. All speak to a need for renewed attention to national water policy developed by the federal government in partnership with provinces, territories, First Nations, NGOs, and municipalities.

Sustainable communities and sustainable livelihoods need healthy watersheds. The Green Party is committed to responsible water stewardship. That includes protecting watersheds from industrial and urban activities and restoring those that have been damaged by such activities. We advocate a renewed federal government role in water management, focused on strong regulations and programs created in collaboration with provincial and municipal governments. When it comes to our vision for freshwater, the Green message is clear: Keep it. Conserve it. Protect it.

The federal government needs to ensure that watershed protection is the first priority of water protection and establish in-stream flow needs in every 1st and 2nd order stream in Canada. Ecological function of river basins must be protected through strict land use management in those river basins.

Green Party MPs will:


Source URL: http://elizabethmaymp.ca/vision-green/p3.2