Canada and the Future of Water

Introduction

Accessibility to clean and safe water is deemed to be a significant matter in Canada. Canada has large water resources which represent 7% of the world’s water and this is run or managed by the government itself. A large amount of water is because groundwater and surface water is adequate in Canada. To maintain this water, there is a need to plan, implement and monitor the programs or measures that are used in running the water resources. Groundwater is the water that is obtained when precipitation percolates into the soil while surface water is the water that runs into the streams, lakes, rivers and oceans. The ocean coastline of Canada is the largest and longest in the world and about 9% of its coverage is freshwater. It has rivers that discharge about 7% of the renewable water supply in the earth and has almost two million lakes which occupy a larger area than any other country (Environment Canada 2009, par.5). To ensure that water is accessible to the future generation and the sustainability of the environment, there should be effective and proper management of quality water and wastewater. Though Canada is known to have an adequate water supply, this does not mean that they do not experience the problem of water pollution. Pollution of water may result from wastewaters from institutions, industries and farms. These pollutants get their way into the water as the water undergoes the hydrologic cycle. Basically, water can be in form of liquid, gas or liquid. It has the following characteristics; tasteless, odorless and colorless and it is composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom (H2O) (Environment Canada 2009, par.3).

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Just like any other country, Canadians use their water in different ways and volumes. Some of the usages require much water while others need little amount of water. For example in Canada, generation of electric power uses four times the amount of water used by the industries. Industrial usage is little because there is the recirculation of used water; for example the mining industries recycle their water more than two times on average (Environment Canada 2009, par.6).

Shared responsibility on water quality in Canada

Water quality in Canada is of great importance and it is measured through the composition of its bacterial and chemical levels. When unsafe and unclean water is consumed, it can have detrimental health effects on someone’s life. This type of water can also harm aquatic living like the fish. For the health of the people and the aquatic species in Canada there are maximum accepted limits of some harmful pollutants that have been set up. Some industries and institutions have to treat their waters before they discharge into any water source in order to meet the allowable limits. To measure the maximum accepted limits there are monitoring programs that are managed by Environment Canada and its partners. They both measure the characteristics of the pollutants to establish whether they are the allowable limits or they have exceeded (Environment Canada 2009, par.4).

The responsibility for management of water in Canada is carried out by several agencies of the government. The primary authority over water management in most of the Canadian areas is supervised by the Canadian territories and provinces. The provinces and territories have developed rules, policies and regulations that help them in administering their duties in controlling people from bulk removal of water. The policies which prohibit vast removal of water are important because they are also effective in preventing water pollution by pathogens, pollutants and persistent foreign species (Environment Canada 2007, par.4). Enormous removal of water has effects in that, it can harm the environment and raise the susceptibility of individuals to the effects of change in climate through global warming. Municipalities in Canada have not been left out in the issue of ensuring the safety of water, they are assigned the duties of seeing to it that wastewater is well treated and the treatment facilities are functioning properly (Health Canada 2009, par.2). There are also some Canadian government agencies that work hand in hand with the provinces and territories to ensure water quality. These agencies are, the Health Bureau and Health Canada Water Quality whose mandate is to develop guidelines for water quality for drinking for the Canadians (Health Canada 2009, par.3). These guidelines are important because they make it possible for water to be tested and analyzed at every stage that is from its source to the consumer distribution point. These guidelines highlight important issues on the biological, chemical and physical areas of water that is likely to affect the health of an individual. Some of the biological limits that should be clearly observed are the presence of E. coli which is a pathogen that can cause diseases when one drinks contaminated water (Health Canada 2009, par.8).

Water is an important resource that is essential in life and how we manage it today will have some effects on the future. Abundance of water in Canada is due to the water that is renewed every year which is about 7%. Canada currently has not started exporting its fresh water in bulk to any country though it has dreams of doing so (Quinn 2007, p1). According to Quinn (2007, p. 9) it is not easy to measure the water situation in Canada concerning exporting it. This is due to the controversial case about water export in the year 1963, where a decision was not agreed over the flow of the River Colorado by the US Supreme Court.

Problems of freshwater in the world

The world is being faced with water shortage as the drought continues to prevail in many countries and this implies that there will be the need to transport water from areas with surplus water to those which are lacking water. Canada will be one of the countries that will be focused on since it has surplus freshwater. Its freshwater represents 20% of the world’s freshwater hence it can comfortably export large volumes of freshwater throughout the world. There is a proposal being developed to transport water to other countries from Lake Newfoundland Gisborne and the country that is most interested in the U.S government (Kracman 2001, par 2). Though Canada can export its freshwater, strategy has been laid down to prohibit the removal of bulk water from Canadian water sources either for use in Canada or for export purposes. The strategy deals with management of water and the environment through protection of the natural resources and water rather than exporting matters. The issue of bulk export of water has been a great argument and Hon. Tom McMillan the federal Minister of the Environment in the year 1987 as cited by Johansen (1999) said that he had realized that there was an abundant water supply in Canada. However, these waters were not plenty in the areas with large populations because of drought in some regions of Canada. Therefore, the minister recommended the government prohibit exportation of large quantities of water to prevent future harm to the environment and vulnerability to effects of climate change (Johansen 1999, par. 10).

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By the 21st century, water will be like oil or gold and one of the countries that will benefit from this is Canada. According to White as cited in CBC News (2004 par 11), this will be an opportunity to secure employment for the small communities like Grand Le Pierre which is located 30 km away from the Atlantic shore. This community has many people who are unemployed since the disappearance of the cod-fish which was their main source of income. Despite the positive view of White on the exportation of water, the environmentalists got involved in the issue and argued that removal of water in large quantities, will make the Canadian water to be a ‘good’ which might have some negative environmental impact when it starts to decrease. Therefore, with this opinion of the environmentalist, the plan of the White did not succeed as he expected (CBC News 2004, par 13).

In many areas of the world, fresh water is becoming a problem because it is getting over from its sources; streams, lakes, basins and rivers. These have led the Canada’s provincial and federal governments to have strategies that will protect their water sources. However, the country is being faced with several challenges because Canada and the United States have basins that they share along their border. An example of such basins is the Great Lakes and many other rivers. It has been estimated that between 2006 and 2025, there will be drastic changes in water availability, safety and quality. Therefore, for the Canadian government to benefit from its water, the policymakers need to take a different approach of creating solutions apart from the existing agreement on transboundary water management that was said by the United States, Mexico and Canada. Such agreements that can be made are like regional agreements on urban water consumption, water transfers, water maintenance technologies for the irrigation purposes and artificial diversions of freshwater (Peschard 2007, p. 6).

Advantages and disadvantages of trading of water

Water exportation has its advantages and disadvantages. The benefit to the exporting countries is that it will generate some savings but this will also lead to loss of water to the same countries. The thing that might result due to bulk water removal is the effects of climate change which will automatically affect the root of all the resources hence affecting the economic growth of a country. Once the large-scale exportation of water starts in Canada, the Canadians will not be in a position to control the market and this will be a threat to them (Muldoon 2002, par 7). Exportation of water in large quantities can never fully fill the economic and social needs of the distant countries. Exported water will only strengthen the issue of inequities between the poor and rich because it will only be accessible and affordable to the rich people only. In addition, the global bulk water trade will give an opportunity to the privileged people to cater for the quality of consumption water and pay no attention to the pollution of the water in their locality. Moreover, they will overlook the issue of proper solid and liquid waste management which will definitely pollute the water sources (CBC News 2004, par 21). The idea of large-scale exportation of water will lead to change in the levels of water and water run or flow will lead to dangerous and unpredictable negative effects to the culture, environment, biodiversity, basin habitat, shorelines and jobs especially to the exporting countries. Furthermore, low water levels will create a greater concern of highly polluted sediments in the harbors especially the shallow ones and attaching channels and less strength of water that is contaminated (CBC News 2004, par 22).

Bearing in mind that there are more disadvantages of exporting water on a large scale than the advantages, Canada should look into the aspect of developing policies that will help it in maintaining its water rather than engaging in the business of water exportation. These policies will assist in the conservation of the Canadian environment and resources hence protecting its economy. Management of water through such policies will also be a good history to the future generation and the world at large will also see the importance and they will view water as a precious and finite resource (Muldoon 2000, par 12). The Canadian can help the countries who would like to export their water by helping them export their knowledge and skills on how to utilize water and conserve the environment. This would help many countries that will no longer export water since they will be in a position to manage and utilize the water that is within their boundaries.

Conclusion

Canada is mostly referred to as the nation which is rich in freshwater because it has the longest ocean in the world and 9% of this water is freshwater (Environment Canada 2009, par.5). Besides having surplus water, Canadians are also known to be the best water wasters in their daily life. The country is also experiencing the problem of water pollution from its industries and institution. Areas with polluted water in Canada have led to some people drinking that water hence they suffer from health problems because they can not access and afford quality water. Therefore, Canada should stop the idea of trading water on a large scale and develop policies that will govern their water to prevent the negative impacts on their environment and effects that may result from climate changes. This is because how we govern our water today will determine how the future generation will be affected.

Reference

CBC News Online, 2004. Selling Canada’s water, [Online]. 2009. Web.

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Environment Canada, 2009. Water, [Online]. Web.

Health Canada, 2009. Environmental and Workplace Health, [Online]. Web.

Johansen, D. 1999. Water exports and the NAFTA, [Online] (2002). Web.

Kracman, D. 2001. International Water MarketingCanada, [Online]. 2009. Web.

Muldoon, P. 2000. The Case Against Water Exports, [Online]. 2009. Web.

Peschard, B. 2007. North American Future 2025 Project. Center for Strategic of International Studies, [Online]. 2009. Web.

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Quinn, F. 2007. Water Diversion, Export And Canada-US Relations: A Brief History, [Online]. 2009. Web.

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