Even in “water-rich” Canada, many jurisdictions are having trouble providing adequate, clean fresh water as their populations not only grow, but also exhibit higher expectations for water availability and water safety. The conventional approach to such problems accepted the history of constantly growing demand for water and responded by extending pipelines, constructing more dams and drilling deeper.
This paper explains that robust systems are characterized by a capacity to recover gracefully from the whole range of exceptional inputs and situations in a given environment. They have a connotation of elegance.
This paper examines the potential for economic instruments to improve the allocation of water resources across sectors in the economy, and identifies the policy issues and policy research that will be prerequisites to achieving this potential.
Water is an important input for many industrial sectors including manufacturing, mining, and energy generation. Industrial water use differs from other sectors in its high reliance on self-supplied water, the potential for internal water recycling and the possibility of use leading to diminished water quality.
Canadian municipal water utilities have had to face many difficulties in the past few years: increasing water treatment and processing costs, tighter fiscal constraints, changing regulations regarding water quality, and aging and rapidly deteriorating infrastructure. Not the least of these problems has been an erosion of consumer confidence in the reliability and safety of publicly supplied tap water.
This article presents the main policy research issues related to the application of selected economic instruments (EIs) for water demand management. It builds on the papers presented at the Policy Research Initiative’s Symposium on economic instruments for water demand management.
Recognizing the importance of community involvement in the protection of Canada’s fisheries resources, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has set up a website to help Canadians form and operate community and stewardship groups.
The Centre for Sustainable Watersheds, a registered charity, is developing a web-based information sharing resource that will help foster better communication between Canada’s water stakeholders. It is hoped that “Water Connections” will help the country’s various jurisdictions and other stakeholders make sound decisions concerning water management and protection.
Ground water is one of British Columbia’s most precious natural resources. More than 750,000 British Columbians get their drinking water from wells, and about 75 percent of the ground water extracted in the province is used to support the B.C. economy. Demand continues to grow, and in recent years ground water has even been increasingly used as a viable source of low-temperature geothermal energy for heating and/or cooling. Despite its importance, the ground water resource has, in the past, lacked adequate legal protection.
With help from West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL), a two-year effort to protect the Sunshine Coast’s Hotel Lake from harmful water withdrawals is successful. The Environmental Appeal Board has limited the amount of water that can be withdrawn from Hotel Lake until studies demonstrate that increased water use will not harm the lake.