Category Archives: Wetlands

Canadian water/wastewater sectors need climate change planning

“No Time to Lose – Canadian water and wastewater sectors must
adapt to climate change” by Hiran Sandanayake appeared in watercanada’s July / Aug 2014 issue

CWWAA few years ago, Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA ) staff asked its members a simple question: “How prepared are the Canadian water and wastewater sectors for climate change and extreme events?”

The following creative Youtube video, “Water and climate change : let’s adapt!”, published on Jul 30, 2014, mentions many vital concerns:

On the World Environment Day 2014, the Rhone Mediterranean Corsica water agency launched an animated film on adaptation to climate change in the water sector.  Climate change is here. Let’s adapt! The French Government, the Rhone Mediterranean Corsica water agency, the regions of Franche-Comté, Burgundy, Rhône-Alpes, Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur have engaged in a plan to adapt to change climate. Making the ground permeable again to allow water to infiltrate, reducing water waste, preserving wetlands and biodiversity… the plan proposes a range of measures to reduce the vulnerability of territories.

 After discussions, meetings, and a poll, the CWWA developed a quick snapshot. There was some good news: some municipalities saw climate change as a risk worth addressing. Some of them were establishing climate-change policies and strategies, quantifying climate-change risk, and developing adaptation programs for climate change and extreme events.

Unfortunately, there were warning signs, too. There appeared to be a wide range in levels of preparedness across the country. As the national voice for the water and wastewater sector, CWWA felt it urgent to advocate for climate-change adaptation and provide guidance.
CWWA created a new national technical committee for climate change. Since then, it has been bringing early adaptation adopters and champions together to spark a dialogue, learn from each other’s experiences, and learn about data and technical tools available for water and wastewater managers and utilities.

Another short video published Oct. 14, 2013 dealing with this topic is,”Preparing Great Lakes Cities for Climate Change: Adapting to Change and Building Resilience”, emphasizing collaboration between Canada and the USA regarding these concerns.

For communities in the Great Lakes region climate change poses unique challenges and creates intriguing opportunities. While many regions of the country face catastrophic threats of sea level rise or tragic outbreaks of wildfires, climate change impacts in the Great Lakes region create more subtle and insidious stresses on the way we live, work and play in our communities. At the University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute, we are working to address these impacts and develop strategies for building more resilient cities.

Through my role as chair of the climate-change committee, I have had the privilege of learning from and working with a broad range of professionals from water and wastewater utilities, the private sector, government departments, and academia. During this time, some themes have become apparent to me:
• Adaptation to climate change often requires multi-disciplinary approaches.
• Climate-change planning is founded on many existing municipal planning processes.
• Incremental approaches to climate-change adaptation may not be sufficient.
• Local climate-change risk assessments and proper data are critical to making informed decisions. Without these, proposed solutions may result in monies not being spent on the true priorities or, worse,
may result in maladaption (unintentional exacerbation of vulnerabilities).
• Applying a true climate-change lens to water and wastewater planning may result in different solutions; place new emphasis on non-traditional or non-infrastructure intensive approaches to water management and protection during extreme events; force us to re-examine traditional approaches to uncertainty, risk, vulnerability, and level of service; and require changes now to increase resiliency.
Lessons from extreme events can be instructive for climate-change planning. These events sometimes highlight linkages not readily apparent during normal operations (for example, the limitations of municipal human resources, municipal cash flow/financing, public preparedness, et cetera). In some cases, the lack of mandates and efforts coordinated between jurisdictions can also further complicate adaptation efforts.
Funding for climate-change adaptation is needed, not only by the municipal utilities but also by the regional, provincial, and federal departments that are providing research, technical guidance, and coordination.

Though we have already seen successes in climate change adaptation and collaboration, we are still in the early days of this process. For our part, the CWWA climate-change committee will be Image result for CWWA climate-changepolling municipalities to get an updated survey of the state of climate-change adaptation. We are also creating an electronic resource databank and have other technical and coordination initiatives in the early planning stages.

The time is now to begin the adaptation process. Quantifying local risks and increasing resiliency now is the best and most cost-effective strategy.

HIRANHiran Sandanayake, P.Eng., is a senior water resources engineer with the City of Ottawa and chair of the CWWA ’s climate-change committee.

Interesting related article ~ 
http://www.horizons.gc.ca/eng/book/export/html/1888

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Devastating effect on Canada’s lakes caused by acid rain

BLAME IT ON THE RAINThe following article, “Blame it on the Rain” appeared in the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Watercanada magazine, written by Rebecca Taggart.

Acid rain leaves its mark in Canada’s freshwater lakes:

Calcium deficiency is commonly  considered an ailment of the elderly. However, many of Canada’s freshwater lakes are now being diagnosed with a similar condition.
Calcium levels in many of Canada’s freshwater lakes are dropping. Just as it’s necessary for a healthy human body, calcium is also essential for supporting life in aquatic ecosystems. Environment Canada scientists are involved in collaborative research that sheds light on a pattern of calcium loss in our small lakes and wetlands. For almost 30 years, samples were collected from lakes across southeastern Canada to monitor chemical levels in ecosystems sensitive to acid rain. In an assessment of chemical changes from 770 Ontario lakes, researchers noticed a troubling pattern of declining calcium.

MAKING A RECOVERY:  When rain falls on the land or drainage basin surrounding a lake, it washes a small amount of calcium from the soil and drains it into the lake. This natural process has occurred over thousands of years, and accounts for most of the calcium found in lakes.
Acid rain speeds up this process by washing calcium from the soil and into lakes at a much faster rate than regular rain.
BLAME IT ON THE RAIN
Acid rain also increases the acidity of lake waters, which can negatively affect the aquatic species that rely on the lake to survive. Acid rain peaked during the 1970s and 1980s because of increased urban and industrial development throughout eastern North America. Since then, aggressive environmental policies have reduced the harmful emissions that cause acid rain, and have succeeded in reducing its occurrence.

However, those decades of faster calcium leaching due to acid rain have depleted the natural stock of calcium found in the soil of land in lake drainage basins. Now that we are seeing less acid rain, calcium concentrations in some lakes are declining, perhaps to levels that are lower than those before acid rain became a problem.
This means that there may not be enough calcium available for some aquatic species to survive in these lakes. Low calcium levels may also slow the biological recovery of lakes from the higher acidity levels that were also caused by acid rain.
GETTING TO THE CORE OF OUR LAKES: To demonstrate the effects of this problem, research scientists studied Daphnia, a crustacean that lab studies have shown is strongly dependent on sufficient calcium concentrations in lakes.
BLAME IT ON THE RAIN2
Researchers conducted a paleolimnological survey, which involves using a coring device to remove a sample of the lake’s sediment floor. Lying within these sediments are remains of plants and animals that have been preserved over time.

BLAME IT ON THE RAIN3
Based on an analysis of lake sediment cores, scientists found that Daphnia began to decline in the 1970s, showing a strong link with measured declines in lake calcium levels.
Declines in Daphnia and other calcium rich foods have the potential to threaten many other species. Daphnia graze on algae, which regulates their presence in a lake. This affects other animals in the food chain such as fish and birds.

BLAME IT ON THE RAIN1
The results of this research teach an important lesson about the role that each creature plays in an ecosystem. Small lakes and wetlands provide important habitat for many species. The individual roles these species play in our ecosystems demonstrate the interconnectedness of all life forms and illustrate the potential for habitat pollution and other impacts to have complex consequences for ecosystems. WC Rebecca Taggart is with Environment Canada.

Here’s a link to a related and more in-depth article, “Acid rain legacy hurting lakes”
ONTARIO'S PLASTIC LAKE
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2008/11/28/acid_rain_legacy_hurting_lakes.html

SUCCESS IN BATTLE WITH NESTLE OVER WATER RIGHTS!

PARLIAMENT

NESTLE RED X“Battle with Nestle over water affects Pontiac” – Published in The LowDown Online, by William Amos and Carissa Wong November 27, 2013

WATER CHART

Everyone needs water. Life exists because of it. In Canada, we expect water to be everywhere, accessible and clean. But the reality is that less than one per cent of the world’s freshwater is readily accessible for direct human use.

ONTARO MAPWe also expect our governments to protect this resource and put a community’s need for drinking water ahead of a corporation’s desire to bottle and sell water for profit. But sometimes, governmental priorities get confused, as they did recently in Ontario.

Every day, Ontario permits Nestle Canada Inc. to take 1.13 million litres of water, which it then bottles and sells, from an aquifer in Wellington County near Guelph. GUELPH AQUIFERLast year, the Ontario government — through the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) — renewed the permit on the condition that Nestle would take less water from the aquifer during serious droughts. But Nestle appealed these mandatory restrictions to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal, which has jurisdiction to determine disputes over groundwater permits. Then the MOE tried to cut a settlement deal with Nestle.

ENVIRO LAW CLINICThe deal would have allowed Nestle to avoid the mandatory drought restrictions. But in February, pro bono lawyers at Ecojustice challenged the deal on behalf of Wellington Water Watchers and Council of Canadians.

We filed a legal submission with the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal, arguing that the proposed settlement was bad for the province and deserved closer scrutiny. Last month, the Tribunal agreed with our clients. It concluded that the proposed settlement deal was not in the public interest and was inconsistent with the Ontario Water Resources Act. The Tribunal ordered a full hearing so that the appropriateness of the drought-based restrictions could be thoroughly examined.  But recently, as a result of the Tribunal’s decision to order a hearing, Nestle withdrew its appeal of the mandatory drought restrictions. The deal is dead.

GUELPH GROUNDWATERSo Nestle must comply with the original permit conditions, reducing the amount of groundwater it takes from Wellington County during drought. Because these non-profit community groups took action, Nestle must leave more water for other users (in dry times) and the government must ensure they live up to that promise.       

Federal, provincial and municipal governments are each responsible, to the extent of their jurisdictions, for managing groundwater resources. But that’s not always what happens. Sometimes well-organized, dedicated members of the public must use the legal system to hold government accountable.

GUELPH WATERSHEDOur watersheds are vulnerable when governments roll out the red carpet for private companies who bristle at mandatory restrictions on their water takings.

In this case, the MOE had it right in the first place — drought-based restrictions should be applied to all future water takings for bottle water enterprises. All Ontarians, not just those who drink water from a well, need to be protected against those who would cut deals that limit the government’s ability to safeguard our shared water supplies. The same approach should apply in Quebec.

PONTIACThe example from Wellington County resonates throughout Canada. It hits home to those of us living in the Pontiac who depend on well-water for our basic needs. When making decisions about the water that sustains our communities, the government’s job is to put the greater public interest first.

Ed. note: William Amos is a Chelsea resident and is the Director of the Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Ottawa. Carissa Wong is an articling student at Ecojustice.

NESTLE ROAD SIGNThe following are my thoughts and not part of this article:
I would think that the province of B.C. should be taking a very close look at this  outcome for many like Sheila Muxlow, pictured outside Nestle’s bottling plant near Hope, B.C. on Aug. 12, 2013, who have concerns about Nestle withdrawing millions of litres of water without payment.  According to the provincial Ministry of Environment, “B.C. is the only jurisdiction in Canada that doesn’t regulate groundwater use.”

http://www.lowdownonline.com/battle-with-nestle-over-water-affects-pontiac/

Interesting related link ~

https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/blog_categories/bottled-water/blogs/

P.E.I.’S NEW WATER AUDIT PROGRAM

PEI WATER AUDIT

Switching to low-flow shower heads can cut water-use by half and save thousands of dollars from a hotel’s water bill. It’s just one of the suggestions the City of Charlottetown floated to hotels in a recent water audit. Laura Chapin explains in this CBC audio, ‘Conservation, policies and PEI’s water-use laws’, May 16, 2013 ~
http://www.cbc.ca/islandmorning/episodes/2013/05/16/conservation-policies-and-peis-water-use-laws/

The following article, Be My Guest ‘Hotels participate in a new water audit program in Prince Edward Island.’ by Clark Kingsbury appears in the May/June issue of WaterCanada magazine.

Charlottetown’s Water and Sewer Utility Department has launched an innovative project aiming to improve water efficiency in the city’s hotels. The Hotel Audit project offers to identify easy, cost-effective way for hotels to reduce water waste by both guests and staff. The project will be executed in partnership with Holland College’s Energy Systems Engineering Technology program. Three hotels are currently involved.

“This pilot supports the tourism industry while also reducing the amount of water used in our city during the busy summer months,” says Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee. “Involving Holland College in the process allows us access to the expertise of its energy systems engineering technology program managers and provides students with an excellent educational opportunity.” The project requires students to perform the audits with water and sewer utility staff members.

Despite public concern about the amount of water consumed by cruise ships docking in Charlottetown’s harbour, the city’s hotels actually consume more water than the Harbour Authority uses in an entire year.

“It seems lately that the focus has moved from conservation to trying to assign blame to a particular industry for high water usage, but the reality is that it’s not one industry or sector that is to blame,” says the water and sewer utility’s chair, Edward Rice. “Conserving water and finding ways to keep water use down during the summer months is the collective responsibility of all businesses, sectors, and industries, as well as governments and residents.”

The audit includes testing of all water use in the participating facilities, and provides recommendations with payback periods based on anticipated savings on water and energy bills.

 

FLOOD MANAGEMENT ~ ONTARIO’S UNIQUE APPROACH

SEEP IMPACT WC MAG1

Seep Impact, by Jane Lewington, a marketing and communications specialist at Conservation Ontario. This article appears in Water Canada’s September/October 2013 issue.

Ontario’s unique approach to flood management is proving to be effective but needs strategic investments to meet future challenges.

Flooding is the leading cause of public emergency in Ontario. It’s increasingly clear we are experiencing stronger and more frequent storms, and this is a pattern that will continue.

Muskoka spring flooding 2013


Ontario’s natural-hazard management programs and regulated floodplains have proven effective, making the province a leader in flood planning and management.
CONSERVATION ONTARIOThis approach relies on a partnership with Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities. Since their inception in the 1940s and 1950s, conservation authorities have been delegated flood management responsibilities at a watershed scale throughout most of southern Ontario and where applicable in northern Ontario. MINISTRY NATURAL RESOURCES LOGOThe Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources assumes responsibility wherever a conservation authority does not exist.

Together, conservation authorities and the Province apply a multi-faceted approach to meeting the challenge of flood events. They rely on structural measures such as dams, dykes, and other flood and erosion-control infrastructure that keep water away from people; as well as non-structural measures, which include flood forecasting and warning, floodplain mapping and regulations, and other natural-hazard management policies and programs to keep people away from water.

The benefits are further leveraged with complementary practices such as stormwater management, green infrastructure, and watershed stewardship initiatives, which also contribute significantly to building local watershed resilience enabling communities to adapt more effectively to increasing flooding challenges.

SEEP IMPACT WC MAG

Today, conservation authorities own more than 900 dams, dykes, channels, and erosion-control structures along rivers and shorelines, providing many benefits beyond flood control. The replacement value of these structures is estimated to be $2.7 billion. Together, they protect more than 46,000 homes and prevent an average of more than $100 million per year in damages. Significant loss of life has not occurred since the establishment of flood management programs in Ontario.

FLOOD MGMNT LOGOAccurate floodplain maps identify where floods are expected, but Conservation Ontario estimates approximately 80 per cent of existing maps need to be updated. To replace them, we must prepare new digital maps showing the riparian topography and complete engineering modelling analysis to determine flood flows and flood levels. As well, agencies responsible for flood management should move to comprehensive digital elevation model mapping in partnership with affected municipalities that can also use this mapping for their planning work. Conservation authorities also monitor stream flow, rainfall, and snow packs; model and forecast floods; issue flood messages, protect significant natural heritage features such as wetlands and forests, which help to mitigate or reduce the impacts of flooding; inform and educate the public about flooding; and contribute to municipal emergency planning and preparedness activities.

Climate change, continuing development, and lagging investments in natural-hazard structures, tools, and programs now impair Ontario’s ability to maintain existing levels of flood protection and deal with emerging threats. Urban development is compounding the damaging effects of rainfall intensity and has diminished the capacity of watersheds to slow storm runoff and ease flood flows.

WATERLOO MAPAgencies responsible for flood management require up-to-date resources and tools to meet these responsibilities—experienced professionals, accurate floodplain maps, monitoring networks, flow modelling tools, and infrastructure management systems.
Agencies responsible for flood management require up-to-date resources and tools to meet these responsibilities—experienced professionals, accurate floodplain maps, monitoring networks, flow modelling tools, and infrastructure management systems.

The combination of measures used by the Ministry of Natural Resources and conservation authorities to mitigate the impacts of flooding represents an industry-leading, integrated approach to flood management. For this reason, existing programs to manage floods and regulate floodplains have been extremely effective to date but should be evaluated for future needs.