CNW: 2013 Recipients of Excellence in Water Stewardship Award

Via: Canada Newswire, March 22, 2013

Council of the Federation Announces First-ever Recipients of Excellence in Water Stewardship Award

OTTAWA, March 22, 2013 /CNW/ – On the occasion of World Water Day, the Council of the Federation (COF) announced today the recipients of the Excellence in Water Stewardship Award. The award recognizes outstanding achievement, innovative practice and leadership in the area of water stewardship. This award is presented to organizations, partnerships, businesses, institutions, and community groups in each province and territory across Canada.

Stemming from the Water Charter, adopted by Premiers in August 2010, Premiers have established this new award in recognition that water is critical to human and ecosystem health. A sustainable water supply ensures our communities are liveable and economically viable whether they are large urban centres or remote or rural communities.

“On behalf of all Premiers, I want to congratulate the first-ever recipients of the Council of the Federation Excellence in Water Stewardship Award,” said Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter, Chair of the Council of the Federation. “These awards are an important mechanism for change as they bring deserved recognition to the champions of water stewardship and inspire all Canadians to take action.”

The recipients of the 2013 Council of the Federation Excellence in Water Stewardship Award are:

Alberta Urban Municipalities Association – Alberta
Okanagan Water Stewardship Council – British Columbia
Lake Winnipeg Foundation – Manitoba
City of Moncton Automated Water Meter Reading Project – New Brunswick
Atlantic Coastal Action Plan (ACAP) Humber Arm – Newfoundland and Labrador
Sambaa K’e Dene Band – Northwest Territories
Clean Annapolis River Project – Nova Scotia
Centre for Water Resources Studies – Nunavut
City of Kitchener Impervious-area Based Stormwater Utility and Credit Policy – Ontario
Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association – Prince Edward Island
Regroupement pour la protection du Grand lac Saint-François – Québec
Lower Souris Watershed Committee Inc. – Saskatchewan
Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council – Yukon

Each recipient receives a glass award, a monetary prize and a certificate signed by the Premier of their province or territory.

Further information about the Excellence in Water Stewardship Awards can be found at

Continue reading

The Polis Project: Four big trends emerging in global water governance


Global water governance trends show move away from private ownership

Jeremy Osborn for The Guardian, Monday 10 December 2012


Flooding Old Malton pub

More crises, such as the recent floods in the UK, are one of four big trends emerging in global water governance today says the Polis Water Project. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Throughout history, the most successful civilisations have been those that have managed their water well. These “hydraulic societies” span the cradle of civilisation in Mesopotamia through to modernity. The success of modern civilisation is, in many key ways, dependant on our ability to become a global version of the hydraulic society.

But what does an emerging global hydraulic society look like?

Broadly, it means a move away from private ownership, and towards more innovative forms of collaborative governance and resource sharing, but Oliver M Brandes of the Polis Water Project says there are four big trends emerging in global water governance today:

More hands on the steering wheel: around the world, water management is an increasingly localised process, with decision-making happening between a broad variety of public and private stakeholders at the local watershed level. This puts business in direct negotiation not only with governments, but with a wide range of public stakeholders.

More rights for nature: more jurisdictions are using policy to safeguard large portions of their water supply for natural processes. This will continue to create a form of conscious scarcity, where the ability of industry to leave zero or net positive operational impact on water supplies will be critical to maintaining social license to operate.

More water in public trust: increasingly, water cannot be owned, even by governments. Courts in many jurisdictions are citing centuries of common law, which show water as a common asset. This is ending the era of unbounded decision-making on water rights by individual interests, including government. Global water governance is moving towards multi-party, consensus driven decision-making processes, where business is a single voice among many, and where access to, not ownership of, water resources, is becoming the new normal.

More crises: governance changes tend to come rapidly and unexpectedly in response to crises –such as the Australian drought or the UK’s flooding. This can be challenging for companies, because crises are hard to predict, and also because climate change is significantly increasing the number of crises that occur each year. Because of this, companies need to be positioned in advance for rapid and unexpected changes in governance and regulatory practices.

Continue reading

Corporate water disclosure guidelines launched by UN

Via: GLOBE-Net, August 30, 2012

‘Water should be more highly valued to reflect its worth and reduce its waste.’

Those words by Paul Bulcke, chief executive officer at Nestle SA (NESN), the world’s biggest food company, at a World Water Week seminar in Stockholm this week, reflect growing corporate awareness of the importance of water to business survival.
‘If something isn’t given a value, people tend to waste it,’ Bulcke said . ‘Water is our most useful resource but those using it often don’t even cover the costs of its infrastructure.’
To give greater awareness of the importance of water, the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate initiative released its Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines – the first ever common approach to corporate water disclosure.

The release of the Guidelines took place at the CEO Water Mandate’s ninth working conference during World Water Week in Stockholm.

The UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate initiative also announced the launch of a global Water Action Hub – the world’s first on-line platform to unite companies, governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders on a range of critical water projects in specific river basins around the planet.
Continue reading

BuffaloNews: Great Lakes system faces serious threats

Column by Douglas Turner for Buffalo News

July 23, 2012

WASHINGTON – Looking south from Bay Beach, Ont., it seemed as though one could walk all the way across Lake Erie south to Sturgeon Point, N.Y. The Great Lakes system, recording its lowest levels in more than a half-century, is under severe and continuing stress from global warming.

The effect on one-fifth of the world’s surface supply of fresh water is obviously opposite from that on the oceans, which are gradually rising.

The system is meticulously surveyed by at least three American agencies, but it is not really governed as it should be to safeguard it from predators, foreign and domestic. Rather, it is overseen under a 103-year-old treaty, fashioned with Canada when it was still part of the British Empire.

The binational International Joint Commission, with its immense bureaucracy, monitors and advises governments on water diversions and channel levels. But the IJC could not protect the lakes from generations of toxic industrial waste dumping that killed the commercial fishery and came close to making the system unswimmable. It cannot protect it now.

The 1960s environmental movement and the wholesale flight to Asia of industry from the lakes basin was what temporarily rescued the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin.

But new threats to shallow Lake Erie, in particular, are massive. They include:

* The opening in 2014 of the massive new Canadian water tunnel above Niagara Falls, which will enable Ontario to match the New York Power Authority’s increased diversions for hydro purposes.

* Unloading of a volatile new phosphorous runoff from the 120-mile Maumee River near Toledo, Ohio, creating huge new beds of poisonous algae, according to an article in the Voice, a Montclair, Mich., weekly. This is a direct threat to the lake’s revived sports fishery.

* The reported signing by Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich of a bill that could, according to environmental critics, allow industry to withdraw millions of gallons a day from Lake Erie.

The bill is similar to one sought by Ohio’s Chamber of Commerce that Kasich vetoed last year, after appeals from Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., and former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft.

It is unclear whether other Great Lakes governors or Canada can block the Ohio law under a 1990 international compact. But it is designed to be immune from challenges by environmentalists.

Continue reading

McKinsey Q : Consequences of “business as usual” scenario vs various paths to sustainability.

Oct 2011

As overfishing destabilizes marine ecosystems around the world, fisheries are finding themselves in rough waters. Data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicate that 30 percent of all fish stocks are now overexploited (beyond their maximum sustainable limits) and an additional 50 percent are fully exploited (at or close to those limits). Their erosion and eventual collapse would pose an economic threat not only to fishers but also to everyone else whose livelihood depends on fisheries, which (according to the FAO) provide employment for 180 million people and account for a significant part of the animal protein consumed globally, particularly in developing countries. With 2008 exports that some experts estimate at more than $85 billion, fish and fishery products rank among the most widely traded agricultural commodities in the world, in a value chain the FAO says may generate $500 billion a year.

A number of studies have shown that fisheries could make a significantly larger economic contribution if they were managed to their maximum sustainable yields. The World Bank puts the lost revenues at $51 billion a year; other estimates range from $46 billion to $90 billion. But though establishing sustainable fisheries is clearly desirable and necessary, only limited research has explored in detail the challenges of the transition, particularly the economic implications for different participants.

The McKinsey report, Design for Sustainable Fisheries—Modeling Fishery Economics, finds that the transition to sustainable fisheries will be challenging for three main reasons:

First, it typically requires a reduction in levels of fishing and changes in fishing practices, so short-term financial losses usually percolate through the value chain. Participants who lack alternatives or a longer-term interest in a fishery may be more concerned about losing short-term harvests than about driving a fishery to collapse.

Second, even when a fishery becomes sustainable, the economic and other benefits may be unevenly distributed among participants.

Finally, although sustainable fishing usually calls for data gathering and adequate management, in many areas these are hard to implement. Lacking good indications of a fish stock’s health, even people with the best intentions may overfish.

To help address these challenges, McKinsey collaborated with experts from the University of California Santa Barbara. The researchers devised a methodology to compare the biological and economic impacts of different transition pathways to sustainability for specific fisheries and applied it to three case studies. Detailed field research uncovered the problems of stakeholders and the value chain dynamics, and in-depth modeling explored the biological and economic consequences of various management scenarios.

To highlight the significantly different possibilities, the researchers compared the consequences of a “business as usual” scenario with those of various paths to sustainability. This approach can help align the interests of different stakeholders and provide them with an optimal solution based on the study of detailed biological and economic scenarios.

Read an executive summary or download the full report.

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

FLOW Speaking Tour Underway Urging Policy Makers to Embrace Water Protection

WATERLOO – Wilfrid Laurier University is hosting  The Forum for Leadership on Water  (FLOW)’s “Northern Voices, Southern Choices: Water Policy Lessons for Canada” cross-country tour on October 25, 2011. During the event, Bob Sandford, a leading water expert, will discuss the need for significant water policy reform.

“The days when Canadians take an abundance of fresh water for granted are numbered,” warns Sandford, who is the EPCOR Chair of the Canadian Partnership Initiative in support of the United Nations “Water for Life” Decade.

“Increasing average temperatures, climate change impacts on weather patterns and extensive changes in land use are causing incalculable damage to public infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, and seriously impacting water quantity and quality.”

Sandford emphasizes that floods and water damage caused by climate change will cost governments billions of dollars and threaten economic growth unless significant water policy reform is adopted.

“Governments need a Canada-wide strategy that effectively addresses current and emerging threats to freshwater security,” said Sandford. “We have seen what elements of such a strategy could look like thanks to leadership from the Northwest Territories, but other jurisdictions have to act now.”

FLOW is a national collaborative of water experts that encourages government action to protect critical fresh water resources. The group’s cross-Canada tour, which began in early October and runs to the end of November, aims to demonstrate the need to better prepare for climate change, increase civic engagement and think more strategically about water management.

Deb MacLatchy, Laurier’s vice-president: academic and provost and an aquatic toxicologist, will open the Oct. 25 forum. The panel also includes Stephen Kakfwi, former Northwest Territories premier; David Livingstone, former director, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada; and Chris Burn, NSERC Northern Research Chair, Carleton University.

Laurier and the government of the Northwest Territories signed a 10-year partnership agreement in May, 2010 to collaborate on research and training on climate change and water resource protection. The partnership supports the goals of the NWT Water Stewardship Strategy to ensure that the water of the NWT “remains clean, abundant and productive for all time.”

Laurier hosts the Institute for Water Science and Cold Regions Research Centre – multi- disciplinary research institutes that focus on cold regions and water science research, including public policy and management.

The event takes place Thursday, Oct. 25 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Paul Martin Centre on Laurier’s Waterloo campus. FLOW’s tour is primarily funded by the RBC Blue Water Project.

Tour Cities and Dates

Robert W. Sandford, EPCOR Chair of the Canadian Partnership Initiative in support of United Nations “Water for Life” Decade, will be speaking at the following places:

Information about the tour dates will be listed as it becomes available.

Generic or specific questions about the tour can be directed to Nancy Goucher.