Most water utility managers don’t classify public outreach as an integral part of utility management. But, that’s an “unfortunate attitude because experience clearly demonstrates the value of devoting public outreach resources on major issues and projects early on instead of after the fact.”
It has been suggested recently that water and sewage utilities move to “full-cost” accounting as a means of addressing some of the challenges facing them. However, there are disagreements regarding how to implement this concept, and few estimates exist that show the impact of such a change.
In this paper, the Canadian experience with water reuse and recycling is reviewed under five theme areas: technology; policy and regulation; research; public acceptance; and coordination. At present, water reuse and recycling in Canada is practiced on a relatively small scale and varies regionally depending on the availability of water supplies and regulatory flexibility.
An integrated water resources management model for Canada, “CanadaWater”, has been developed using the system dynamics simulation approach. The “CanadaWater” model takes into consideration dynamic interactions between quantitative characteristics of the available water resources, and water use that are determined by the socio-economic development level, population and physiographic features of Canada’s territory.
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.