The production of food requires a reliable source of quality water. We in Canada are more blessed with this resource than others on this planet., but let’s not take this for granted. Water availability is reliant on such factors as human development, climate variables, and climate change. The factors influence or control where, when, and how water exists in the hydrological cycle.
On one side we can have water in abundance..perhaps too abundant, which can lead to flooding. Large scale flooding is not just something that occurs in distant lands, Canada has these events as well. The Red River Valley in Manitoba can battle flooding on an annual basis. Calgary flooded in 2013, and southern Saskatchewan in 2014.
The other side of flooding is drought. These are the far more costly of the climate related events in terms of GDP generated by the food industry. Droughts are sneaky in that you don’t realize you are in one, until it is too late. If you have successive years of moisture deficits, soil water storage can deplete affecting food production. The severe drought that has hit California is partially blamed on climate change, former full reservoirs have been severely depleted. It is possible that things will return to normal, only time will tell..but the North American food system has been impacted. Canada imports over a $1 billion of food from California..so we need to be aware of changes, the increased costs, and what we can do locally to offset the new supply and demand forces.
Our food systems are quite interconnected, adverse effects in one area can result in adverse effects in another area. A recent article by the Calgary Herald noted that cattle production is being threatened by moisture deficits. leading to a decrease in pasturing, and an increase in feed prices. Meanwhile the wettest May on record in Texas boosted pasture conditions, and ranchers added to their herds… increasing beef production. We can see how climate conditions in parts of the USA can directly affect Canada’s position on the world stage of food production, whether positive or negative. The availability of a high volume of good water is extremely important.
What can we do to address the issue of drought..over which we have little or no control? We have to look at what water we have, how it changes over time, its environmental, social, and economic power, and how best to use it. By studying these issues we can develop strategies to possibly negate the effects of drought. Water reservoirs store large volumes of water, but over time these water banks can be depleted, as has happened in California. The use of ground water supplies is also important ,and must be managed with strategies deployed to use surface and ground water in a balanced manner lest sustainability of the resource is called into question.
Drought on the Canadian Prairies:
In the coming years as the world’s population grows, and the need to feed that growth increases, we must look at Canada’s place in the global food production system. We have the chance to be a leader in the food chain..to do this we need good volume of quality water.
Drought in Brazil may affect Canadian coffee prices: