Economist Intelligence Unit: Waterless in 2030?

(via: Water Efficiency Journal)

A recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit (sponsored by Oracle) reveals that if water utilities plan on meeting water supply, large-scale infrastructure investments must be made—or else demand will outstrip supply by 2030.

The study, entitled “Water for All?”, compared the water resource management strategies of 10 countries—the US, Canada, UK, Australia, France, Spain, Brazil, Russia, India, and China—and surveyed 244 water utility managers and executives, including 20 “in-depth” interviews with water executives and independent experts. The participants’ answerers led researchers to conclude that while water providers are optimistic about their ability to meet future demand, that ability will be amplified or hampered by government action and consumer education. And all water purveyors will have to “think outside the box.”

“The leading overall response to water stress in the future is expected to be a sharp focus on demand management,” explains a statement released by Oracle in relation to the report. “This represents a shift in utilities’ traditional emphasis on continuing to supply increasing quantities of water in response to increasing demand.”

Meanwhile, developing countries have a tougher row to hoe. The study’s survey of water resource management strategies in the developing world reveals that climate change and erratic weather patters will increasingly influence the creation and maintenance of infrastructure in those countries.

“Utilities in the developing countries, in contrast, are more likely to focus on rolling out or expanding basic infrastructure,” states the report.

Other key findings:

* Increased water stress by 2030. Due to growing demand for water, caused by increasing populations, changing climate patterns, and wasteful consumer behavior, 39% of executives surveyed believe that the risk of national water demand outstripping supply by 2030 is “highly likely,” while 54% believe such a risk is moderately likely. Failure to address this could result in significant economic, social, and health implications.

* Barriers to conservation. Forty-five percent of utilities—especially in developed markets—see wasteful consumer behavior as their biggest barrier to progress, while another 33% believe tariffs are too low to stimulate greater investment. In developing countries, a lack of capital for investment tops the list (41%), while worries over climate change stand third overall (34%).

* Encouraging consumer engagement. Half of respondents (49%) believe pricing structures need to be changed to encourage conservation, while under four in 10 water utilities think water prices must be held down to ensure fair access to water for all (38%). With consumer behavior being the biggest barrier to conservation, it is critical for water utilities to engage with consumers to overcome this challenge.

* Increased investment. Almost all respondents stated that they are increasing investment to meet supply challenges (93%), with more than one in five (22%) increasing investment by 15% or more within the next three years.

* Innovative industry. Prompted by necessity, the water sector is becoming an increasingly prominent innovator, due to the implementation technologies such as smart meters and desalination solutions. For instance, one-fifth of water utilities in developed markets regularly evaluate new technologies, compared to one-third of developing countries. However, more water utilities must improve their ability to identify and implement such advances, with over one-third (36%) unaware of the innovation options available to them.

* Stumbling blocks. Drought and increased water pollution are seen by respondents as the biggest risks faced by water utilities, and are considered the most likely to occur. Similarly, half of respondents polled felt that that information and support from government bodies is lacking; while 43% recognize they must develop their management techniques to more precisely model future water availability or rainfall.



Saskatchewan aims to protect water from source to tap with 25-year plan

via: The Canadian Press
Published Monday, Oct. 15, 2012

The Saskatchewan government has outlined a 25-year plan that it says will protect water supplies from the source to the tap.

The 25 Year Saskatchewan Water Security Plan has seven goals:

  • Sustainable Supplies
  • Safe Drinking Water
  • Protection of Water Resources
  • Safe Dams
  • Flood and Drought Damage Reduction
  • Adequate Data, Information and Knowledge
  • Effective Governance and Engagement

The Vision Statement of the Plan,”Water supporting economic growth, quality of life and environmental well-being” is supported by the following principles:

Long-Term Perspective: Water management decisions will be undertaken within the context of a 25-year time horizon.

Water for Future Generations: A sustainable approach to water use will protect the quality and quantity of water now and for the future.

Integrated Approach to Management: Water decisions will integrate the multiple objectives and information pertaining to the economic development, ecological, hydrological, human health, and social aspects of water, considering circumstances and needs that may be unique to a watershed or region, to achieve a balanced outcome.

Partnerships and Participation: The provincial government will facilitate collaboration in the development and implementation of water management decisions.

Shared Responsibility: All residents, communities and levels of government share responsibility for the wise use and management of water.

Value of Water: Water is essential to life and will be treated as a finite resource that is used efficiently and effectively to best reflect its economic, social, and environmental importance.

Continuous Improvement: Water management will be adaptive and supported by sound monitoring, risk assessment, evaluation, research, innovation, and best practices.

The province says conservation is critical and could be achieved through pricing strategies.

But the plan adds that new reservoirs, pipelines and canals may also be necessary to meet demand.

Water demand is highest in the southern part of the province because of industrial development such as potash mines.

Other goals include ensuring dams meet water supply and management needs safely and making sure measures are in place to respond to floods or drought.

“We want to ensure there is a sustainable water supply available to support our growth, a healthy environment and our quality of life,” Ken Cheveldayoff, minister responsible for the new Water Security Agency, said Monday.

Saskatchewan’s new Water Security Agency will report annually on how the plan is working.


Draft of Mississippi-Rideau Drinking Water Source Protection Plan released

From the website:

The Mississippi Valley Conservation and Rideau Valley Conservation Authority have developed draft policies to help keep contaminants out of rivers and groundwater where they are a source of municipal drinking water. Such preventative measures will help make municipal drinking water even safer. Review the draft policies and submit comments by May 4, 2012.

Policies can be found in the draft Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Plan. This Plan contains a series of voluntary and mandatory policies that encourage good stewardship, require additional oversight or risk reduction measures where necessary and prohibit certain activities from being established in the future. Funding is also available until December 1, 2012 to help property owners proactively address activities on their property that may be subject to these policies in the future.

View the Draft Plan:

Online at

At our Conservation Authority Offices:
Mississippi Valley Conservation – 4175 Highway 511, Lanark
Rideau Valley Conservation Authority – 3889 Rideau Valley Dr, Manotick

At our open houses (details below)
Request a DVD copy (contact information below)

Attend an Open House (all open houses are 4 pm to 8 pm)

April 19 – Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (3889 Rideau Valley Drive, Manotick)
April 24 – Carleton Place Arena (75 Neelin Street, Carleton Place)
April 26 – Smiths Falls Memorial Centre (75 Cornelia Street, Smiths Falls)

 Where Policies Would Apply

There are 11 locations in the Mississippi-Rideau region where rivers or groundwater are a source of municipal drinking water – these are the areas where policies will apply and funding is available:

•         Almonte
•         Carleton Place
•         Carp
•         Kemptville
•         Merrickville
•         Munster
•         Perth
•         Richmond
•         Smiths Falls
•         Urban Ottawa
•         Westport

 What Activities Policies Would Address

The following types of activities could be subject to policies in the areas listed above. These are activities that must be carefully managed near sources of drinking water to prevent contamination.

•         Waste disposal sites
•         Municipal sewage works
•         Septic systems
•         Pesticides
•         Commercial fertilizer
•         Nutrients (manure, biosolids, livestock)
•         Heating oil (furnace tanks)
•         Liquid fuel (gas stations, yard tanks)
•         Road salt and snow storage
•         Chemicals (DNAPLs and organic solvents)

More information:     Sommer Casgrain-Robertson,
Co-Project Manager, Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Region

613-692-3571 or 1-800-267-3504 ext 1147

Water Law: Public Trust May Be Fresh Approach to Protecting Great Lakes

By Keith Schneider
Via: Circle of Blue

January 17, 2012 WASHINGTON, D.C. Maude Barlow, a 64-year-old author and activist from Ottawa, is chairperson of the Council of Canadians, one of that country’s most influential public interest organizations. She has spent a globally prominent career advocating for clean water, environmental protection, and fairer trade deals for the Great Lakes region.

James Olson, a 66-year-old attorney from Traverse City, Michigan, is an expert in American environmental law who challenged Nestle’s authority to bottle Michigan’s groundwater in a 2003 case that spurred an eight-state pact in 2008 to block big diversions of water from the Great Lakes.

Now the two advocates, driven by their shared allegiance to the security of the Great Lakes, have teamed up to develop and promote the biggest idea of their careers. They are intent on applying two ancient governing and legal principles — defining the Great Lakes as a shared “commons,” protected by the public trust doctrine — to reverse the deteriorating condition of the largest system of fresh surface water on earth.

On December 13, Barlow and Olson took a momentous first step toward their goal when they spent 75 minutes formally introducing the concept to the Canadian and American leaders of the International Joint Commission (IJC), a bilateral agency founded in 1909 to help manage the Great Lakes and other waters that cross the boundaries of the two countries. It was the first time that a framework for managing the Great Lakes as a commons had been presented at such a high government level in both nations.

“We were asking the IJC to show leadership, by promoting a new narrative for protecting the Great Lakes,” Barlow added. “They were gracious, warm, and receptive. There was no hostility and a great deal of interest in how it would work.”

Frank Bevacqua, the IJC spokesman, said the commissioners would not comment publicly on what they heard. “Our commissioners wish to have the opportunity to discuss the material presented by Barlow and Olson amongst themselves, before giving interviews on the subject,” he said.

The proposal from Barlow and Olson also attracted interest from water law experts outside of government. Paul Simmons — a water law specialist and partner at Somach, Simmons, and Dunn in Sacramento — said in an interview with Circle of Blue that, since a 1983 state Supreme Court case, California has required water suppliers and regulators to consider the public trust implications in decisions involving water allocations from rivers for such things as supplying drinking water or for wildlife conservation.

The biggest question in defining the Great Lakes as a commons subject to public trust principles is how to install such principles in real-world law and regulation, according to Simmons.

Read the rest of the article

CCPA: BC’s climate goals, hydro and water resources at risk as shale gas fracking industry expands

via: @ecojustice_ca & Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives  Nov. 16, 2011

(Vancouver) A new study concludes that BC’s ballooning shale gas industry is the natural gas equivalent of Alberta’s tar sands, placing the province’s water and hydro resource at risk as well as jeopardizing climate change policies.

Despite industry and government assertions that natural gas from shale rock is a “green” alternative to other fossil fuels, the study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Wilderness Committee finds the opposite, and lays much of the blame on the controversial gas extraction technology known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Fracking involves forcing massive amounts of water, chemicals and sand deep into shale rock formations, creating fractures in the rock that release the gas.

“If the shale gas industry expands as projected,” says study author and CCPA resource policy analyst Ben Parfitt, “shale gas companies will need two to three times the amount of power that the proposed Site C dam would provide. In other words, large amounts of publicly owned clean water and hydro power will have to be found to produce more and more dirty fossil fuel. I don’t think British Columbians are comfortable with that.”

The study, Fracking Up Our Water, Hydro Power and Climate: BC’s Reckless Pursuit of Shale Gas, notes many troubling outcomes of escalating shale gas production:

A potential doubling of industry greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, as fracking activities escalate. If BC is to meet its legislated targets for greenhouse gas reduction, every other sector of the provincial economy will have to cut their emissions in half.
The BC government giving shale gas companies access to public water supplies for 20 years, with little or no public consultation despite the massive amounts of water used (up to 600 Olympic swimming pools per gas well pad).
Potential increases in shale gas piped to Alberta, where it already helps to fuel operations at the tar sands.
The study further notes that environmental and climatic stresses associated with the industry will increase with new developments like the recently approved liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal at Kitimat.

“It’s time to curb this industry before it’s too late for our climate, our water and our hydroelectric resources,” says Tria Donaldson, Pacific Coast Campaigner for the Wilderness Committee.

 “We want firm no-go zones established where industry activities are restricted and we want a moratorium on fracking in undeveloped watersheds, pending full surface water and groundwater studies.”

The report makes numerous recommendations, including:

A cap on annual shale gas production.
An end to all government subsidies of the natural gas industry.
A requirement that the province explain how BC will meet its legislatively mandated greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets while simultaneously supporting the shale gas industry.
Increased water prices for industry, to encourage innovation and conservation (currently companies pay nothing for the water they use, or nominal charges of just $2.75 for each Olympic swimming pool of water).
A requirement that the industry pay full cost for the electricity it uses.

“We need to manage this industry for wind-down, not wind-up, and ensure that while the industry is operating the public gets a fair return,” Parfitt says.

For more information or interviews, contact Sarah Leavitt, 604-801-5121, x233 or

This study is part of the Climate Justice Project, a partnership between the CCPA-BC and UBC, funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, with additional funding from Mountain Equipment Coop.

POLIS Project: A Blueprint for Reinventing Rainwater Management in Canada’s Communities

Via: POLIS Project on Ecological Governance – Water Sustainability Project (WSP)

Most of Canada’s communities manage stormwater runoff in a way that is not sustainable in the long term. Flooded streets and basements, degraded urban streams, increasing impacts of a changing climate, and expensive drainage infrastructure that demands constant maintenance are all evidence that we must learn to better integrate the water cycle into urban areas.

Peeling Back the Pavement: A Blueprint for Reinventing Rainwater Management in Canada’s Communities is the latest in POLIS’ water sustainability handbook series for decision makers, community leaders, and municipal water management staff.

Rethinking the way we deal with rain and snowmelt in our cities means replacing conventional pipe-and-convey systems with an approach that recognizes rainwater as a valuable resource while, at the same time, reducing runoff volume and improving runoff quality. Peeling Back the Pavement outlines the problems with conventional stormwater management and examines solutions for moving toward sustainability.

It provides a comprehensive blueprint that outlines the crucial steps necessary to change the way communities manage and, importantly, govern stormwater. The blueprint describes detailed actions that local and senior levels of government can take to move from the current system of stormwater management to one focused on rainwater as a resource.

The handbook is alive with examples and case studies demonstrating leading practice and on-the-ground results from across Canada and beyond. A main focus is addressing the fragmented responsibility for fresh water across and within jurisdictions—one of the greatest challenges to reinventing rainwater management.

Author(s): Susanne Porter-Bopp, Oliver M. Brandes & Calvin Sandborn with Laura Brandes

See also:

Canada Water Network / Reseau Canadien de l’eau – WEBINAR: Creating a Blue Dialogue — POLIS Water Sustainability Project

Shared Water, One Framework: What Canada Can Learn from EU Water Governance

University of Waterloo – Water Institute, Events page

Calgary Herald: Water policy a priority for Alberta’s new environment minister

Alberta’s new Environment and Water minister says long-awaited public discussions on a system for divvying up southern Alberta’s scarce water resources will be coming in 2012.

The newly appointed Diana McQueen, MLA for Drayton Valley-Calmar, said public consultations on water – and southern Alberta’s current market for buying and selling limited water licences – is one of the top priorities in the new portfolio.

In an interview, McQueen said she wants the consultations to lead to improvements to what she describes as an already solid system that feeds agriculture, cities, towns and industry in the most populated region of the province.

“We’ve got a system that’s worked very well over the last 100 years,” McQueen said. “We want to make sure we are not throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

McQueen said her department would release some educational documents on water next year to prompt discussion on water – but already the province’s new premier has waded into the issue.

At a leader’s dinner in Medicine Hat earlier this month, Alison Redford suggested she doesn’t like the idea of going further down the path of putting a price on water, saying “it’s not the way I think we should go.”

However, Redford added she wants an open conversation on the issue where Albertans make the decision as to how to proceed.

Those with an interest in Alberta’s water supplies have long been waiting for some kind of clarity. It was more than three years ago when long-serving former environment minister Rob Renner said that public consultations on re-vamping the province’s water allocation system would go ahead with 18 months.

“Water policy has been stalled for the last several years,” said Bob Sandford, an Alberta water expert and author who chairs Canada’s participation in the United Nations Water for Life Decade.

“We’re not the water policy leaders that we think we are.”

Water issues are especially charged in southern Alberta, where almost every river, lake and stream has been closed to new water licence requests since 2006. Since new licences are no longer readily available from the government, a market has sprung up with 60 licences bought and sold in the last five years.

The issue is intensified by debate over Alberta’s century-old “first-in-time, first-in-right” water system, which gives the oldest water licence holders first dibs on supplies. Some of the oldest and most senior licence holders — and therefore those who wield the most water power — are irrigation districts for southern Alberta farmers, and the city of Calgary.

Read more: