Tag Archives: climate

Stop Oil Tanker Traffic in B.C.

BC OIL TANKER TRAFFIC
Just ONE Exxon-Valdez-like spill on British Columbia’s coast could devastate thousands of families and a spectacular diversity of life. We shouldn’t take that risk!

Aren’t you tired of Big Oil targeting populated areas with rich flora and fauna and delicate environments as the next hot place to traffic oil? I sure am. It’s almost like they’re targeting areas of the world with the most to lose from an oil spill!

OIL COLLAGE

Send a message to Canada’s and British Columbia’s governments: Don’t traffic oil along B.C.’s coast!

Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, and CN Rail are all chomping at the bit to expand crude oil tanker traffic through B.C.’s coast en route to Asia. It would put a number of salmon rivers – as well as the thousands of people, cultures, and livelihoods that depend on B.C.’s coast – at risk for an oil spill, an event that could devastate the area.

First Nation communities are banning these projects with the Coastal First Nations and Save the Fraser declarations. Let’s unite with these strong efforts and stand up against oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s coast!

Please sign the petition by clicking the link below ~

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/333/333/751/?z00m=20630007

OKANAGAN BASIN – GAME ABOUT DROUGHT

IMAGE WITH SUN

This article, The Name of the Game is Drought, appeared in the July/Aug. issue of WaterCanada.
The Okanagan Basin Water Board engages regional stakeholders in a tournament of thirst, by Kerry Freek

FACING DROUGHT IS A GROWING NECESSITY

DROUGHT

In the United States, drought ranks second or third of natural disasters, depending on the year, in terms of economic impact. In Canada, dry periods—especially in the western provinces—are becoming more frequent and prolonged. It’s not news that severe water scarcity can devastate unprepared communities. But when people, nature, and economic activities share a watershed’s resources, how should local governments determine a pecking order in the event of an emergency? More importantly, how do they begin the tough process of creating emergency plans in advance?
The answer, some might say, is to make it fun, but keep it meaningful.

DROUGHT1

This past fall, the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) kick-started the drought conversation in its region. In partnership with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the B.C. Ministry of Environment, the organization brought together key players in government, as well as regional water suppliers, and reps from the agriculture, fisheries, and ranching communities to participate in a game about municipal thirst.
As part of the exercise, participants were divided into teams, given a drought scenario, and asked to identify and work through some of the issues anticipated with a drought, such as water reservoir management, the need for water for food production, and water for fish. The teams were given options for managing their water supply, and referees and other teams scored their decisions. Finally, the decisions were entered into a sophisticated computer program, known as the water evaluation and planning tool. With output from this tool, participants could understand and assess how their decisions would play out in a multi-year drought.
Teams quickly learned that any choice would impact water supply land, depending on how the scenarios were managed, they could increase or reduce conflict within the community. They also learned success comes down to collaboration, says Nelson Jatel of OBWB. “In these situations, it’s critical to communicate clearly and work together. The game allowed us to think through some of the complex partnerships that are key to surviving a drought.”
Gaming is gaining in popularity, and is beginning to be seen as a way to work through potential conflicts in the real world. “When we play a game, we tackle tough challenges with more creativity, more determination, more optimism, and we’re more likely to reach out to others for help,” says game designer Jane McGonigal in her June 2012 TED talk video – 

Osooyoos Mayor Stu Wells, who participated in the Okanagan game, believes drought in the region is a matter of when, not if. “To ensure the most positive outcomes, we need to know where the need for water is going to be, and what the consequences and trade offs of our decisions will be. “Our town has a drought management plan, but after this tournament, we need to review it and look at providing more incentives for water conservation. We want to prepare to be as resilient as possible.” The game has continued to improve. AAFC says it is working on a tool kit so people in other Canadian regions—and beyond—can run their own versions and have a bit of fun in the process.

WATER BROTHERS BACK FOR 2ND SEASON! – TVO

 WATER BROTHERS1

Beach brothers back in the water for second season on TVO

This article, by Jon Muldoon, appeared in Beach Metro Community News, September 10, 2013
 

Alex and Tyler Mifflin star in The Water Brothers, which launches its second season September 10 on TVO. Photo courtesy TVOAlex and Tyler Mifflin star in The Water Brothers, which launches its second season September 10 on TVO. Photo courtesy TVO

Beachers Alex and Tyler Mifflin care mostly about three things – one is oxygen, and the other two are hydrogen. The Water Brothers, as the siblings are more widely known, are proud to launch the second season of their eponymous television show tonight, Sept. 10, on TVO.
The brothers sat down last week to talk about all things wet and adventurous, including learning to sail large boats, travelling to the largest festival in the world, ever, in India, and of course focusing on problems in our own back yard, such as the lack of clean drinking water in northern First Nations communities, a national shame in a country blessed with as much fresh water as Canada.
“There’s a vastly disproportionate impact on First Nations,” said Tyler.
So why focus on water to begin with?
“Everything is interconnected through water,” said Alex.
Even though social, environmental, economic and political issues all tie in to clean water, “we don’t see the connections. It’s not always obvious to us,” said Tyler.
While the brothers are passionate about water issues, they realize that working in television, they need to keep their message entertaining, particularly to reach a younger audience. That’s where the travel and adventure comes into play.
INDIA FESTIVAL   In one episode, the brothers travel to India for the Kumbh Mela Festival on the Ganges River, one of the most celebrated yet polluted rivers in the world.
On the same trip they carried on to Bangladesh, which Alex says is “the canary in the coal mine in terms of climate change.”
PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCHOne adventure sees Alex and Tyler sailing to a remote area in the Pacific ocean, to visit “the great Pacific garbage patch.”
On a related recent trip in Lake Ontario, the boys travelled with a crew to measure the amount of plastic debris in their home waters.
PLASTIC BOTTLES“We don’t have the capacity to filter out small pieces of plastic in our wastewater stream,” said Tyler. “It’s being produced even faster than we can figure out where it’s going.”
Another episode involves farmed fish in British Columbia, which might also hit close to home, at least with Toronto seafood lovers.
“Salmon is such an iconic species in Canada, especially on the west coast. It’s a keystone species,” said Tyler.
AlexSALMON agrees, pointing out that what we eat in Ontario creates a measurable impact on water quality in western Canada.
“We aren’t necessarily directly connected to the ocean, but we make food choices every day which do connect us to the ocean,” he said.
Both brothers agree that presenting solutions is a key aspect to their show. From large scale changes to individual choices, Alex and Tyler always try to present viewers with tangible actions they can take to effect change.
Although the brothers are already in the early planning stages for season three, the current season is set to premiere on TVO tonight, Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 7:30 p.m. The episodes can also be streamed any time after broadcast at tvo.org and thewaterbrothers.ca.
QUENCH WATER FINDERAlex and Tyler are also working on redesigning and expanding Quench, their mobile app which offers users a map of the closest taps to fill up on clean water in the GTA, to help reduce reliance on plastic bottles. Quench can be downloaded for Android and iPhone.
Anyone interested in helping out directly alongside the Water Brothers can join Alex and Tyler, and many others, at Woodbine Beach on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 21 for the annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

http://www.beachmetro.com/2013/09/10/beachers-alex-tyler-mifflin-care-oxygen-hydrogen-water-brothers-siblings-widely-known-proud-launch-season-eponymous-television-show-tonight-sept-10-tvo-brothers-sat-week-talk-wet-adv/

WHY DEVELOP AND POPULATE FLOOD PLAINS AREAS?

The following is a an article in WaterCanada July/Aug 2013 issue ~ Life on the Flood Plains
Why does development continue in areas of risk?

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IN JUNE, roughly 100,000 people in Calgary and southern Alberta found themselves displaced during what the government called the worst flood in the province’s history. Though the extent of the damage will not be fully realized for months, reports have suggested the costs could be close to $5 billion.

At the recent Canadian Water Summit, held in Calgary just days after the flooding, experts suggested that many areas of Canada have significant, comprehensive, and historic data about climate variability and flood plains. So why does a natural event have to cause so much extensive damage?

The simple answer might be that, despite the available information, we continue to develop in flood plains. At the summit, consultant Lisa Maria Fox showed a photo of knee-deep relief workers downtown. The backdrop? A large billboard advertising condos with a dream waterfront view.

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What’s the solution? Short of ceasing development on properties we deem valuable, municipalities can require developers to have homebuyers sign a covenant stating they understand the risk. Chilliwack, British Columbia has bylaws to this effect. One Calgarian summit participant said she had no idea she lived in a flood plain until the flood happened, so another person suggested street signs in key areas indicating what to do in case of flood, since, in many cases, people are not aware of the risk.

HOW EARTH MADE US – WATER ~ A MUST SEE VIDEO!!!

HOW EARTH MADE US_WATER

How Earth Made Us – The untold story of history.

This is part 2 in Professor Iain Stewart’s series, “How Earth Made Us”.  I highly recommend you take an hour to watch it as it is superlative!!!

Our planet has amazing power, and yet that’s rarely mentioned in our history books. This series tells the story of how the Earth has influenced human history, from the dawn of civilisation to the modern industrial age. It reveals for the first time on television how geology, geography and climate have been a far more powerful influence on the human story than has previously been acknowledged. A combination of epic story telling, visually stunning camerawork, extraordinary locations and passionate presenting combine to form a highly original version of human history.

Youtube video, “How Earth Made Us – Water”, uploaded on May 16, 2011 – Of all our planet’s forces perhaps none has greater power over us than water.  For me water is the most magical force on earth.  The presence of water shapes, renews and nourishes our planet.  It’s our planet’s life blood, that pumps through it continuously…

Water

This time he explores our complex relationship with water. Visiting spectacular locations in Iceland, the Middle East and India, Iain shows how control over water has been central to human existence. He takes a precarious flight in a motorised paraglider to experience the cycle of freshwater that we depend on, discovers how villagers in the foothills of the Himalayas have built a living bridge to cope with the monsoon, and visits Egypt to reveal the secret of the pharaohs’ success. Throughout history, success has depended on our ability to adapt to and control constantly shifting sources of water.

Discover why societies have succeeded or failed, and how the environment has influenced every aspect of our history from art to industry, religion to war, world domination or collapse. Visiting some of the most iconic places on Earth, How Earth Made Us overturns preconceptions about our civilisations and our cultures to offer a new perspective on who we are today.

~Youtube video presented by Professor Iain Stewart ~

Link to ~ How Earth Made Us—a masterly BBC documentary

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2012/04/eart-a21.html

 
Our heartfelt thanks to Professor Stewart
for his exceptional accomplishment!

CELL PHONE SIGNALS ABSORBED BY WATER

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YouTube video experiments to explain cell phone signals absorbed by water and cell tower RF absorbed by water:

 

The following article, “Dropped Signals”,  is from WaterCanada’s March/April 2013 magazine issue.
What do phone calls have to do with raindrops?  Water absorbs cell phone signals.  RAINFALL ATTENUATESBased on that premise, a group of researchers in the Netherlands set out to see if cellular network data, collected over several days, could give an accurate estimate of how much rain fell in an area.  They found that data from the cell networks closely matched ground-based observations.
ATTENUATION BETWEEN CELL TOWERS“For a long time — decades, even from the sixties — we’ve known that rainfall can attenuate signals in telecommunication, but microwave links from cellular communication networks are of course relatively new,” AART OVEREEMsays Aart Overeem, weather service research and development, Wageningen University.  His team’s research builds upon previous research from Israel and the Netherlands.
Here’s how it works.  MOBILE PHONE ANTENNAS“Electromagnetic signals are transmitted from the antenna of one telephone tower to the antenna of another telephone tower,” says Overeem.  “In case of rainfall the signal is attenuated, which can be seen from a decrease in the received signal power at one end of such a microwave link.  From the decrease in the received signal level during rainy weather compared to the signal level during dry weather, the path-averaged rainfall intensity between the antennas can be estimated.”
WEATHER DATAOvereem says that networks could be used to gauge important climate rainfall data, especially in areas without ground based monitoring, which includes rain gauges and weather radar data.
Rainfall estimates from cellular communication networks could help to improve the number of surface rainfall observations, which could become important for agriculture and food production, water management, climate monitoring, et cetera,” says Overeem, who emphasizes that microwave link data are not meant to as a replacement, but as an addition to existing observational systems.

U of WATERLOOThe University of Waterloo has done similar work using GPS signals.

FRANK SEGLENIEKSFor an interview with Dr. Frank Seglenieks, UW’s weather station coordinator, visit watercanada.net.
—Staff

RAINFALL_MICROWAVE TOWER

RIVER OF LIGHT CELEBRATION ~ ALBERTA, CANADA

WEB SITE COLLAGE

RIVER OF LIGHT LOGOShifting and evolving as it travels to rivers throughout the world, the River of Light has gained local and international recognition through its ability to not only engage communities to participate in the work, but also to highlight the importance of river preservation and water conversation on a global scale.  The River of Light is a world touring art installation by Creatmosphere that combines floating lights, sound and new technologies to celebrate the rivers of the world through public art.

River of Light Art project on the Bow River in Calgary August 2010, Artist: Laurent Louyer.  Photo slideshow to start with video clip of colour changes starting at 1:31 and then a few more images.  Music by Roger Subiranan Mata, “Point of No Return”, available through a creative commons license on http://www.jemendo

RED DEER RIVER2013 marks the 100th birthday of the City of Red Deer and to celebrate this the Red Deer River will become the territory and stage for a series of daylight sculptural and sound installations and night-time light and video interventions that aim to create new Points of View for the community to discover and engage with their city and river.

Web: www.riveroflight.org
The River of Lights: Points of View has been commissioned by the
Central Alberta Historical Society for the Red Deer City Centennial.

Associated link ~http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/river-of-light

SOPHISTICATED GROUNDWATER MONITORING VIA SATELLITE

WATERCANADALOGOThe following excerpts are taken from Water Canada’s March/April 2013 article, “UNDERGROUND NETWORK – From sensors below the surface to satellites  somewhere in orbit, groundwater monitoring is becoming more  sophisticated”, by Erin Pehlivan.

HELEN APIO CHARITY.ORGHelen Apio is filled with joy as she collects clean water in her Northern Uganda village.  When she didn’t have water, she would walk to the nearest well—2.4 kilometres away—and wait in line with hundreds of other women, clutching two empty five-gallon water cans, anticipating stock.

BC GROUNDWATERCharity: water has helped women like Apio by introducing a unique water technology that detects groundwater in developing countries. Founded in 2006, charity: water’s first project was to install six wells in a Ugandan refugee camp.  They bought a GPS for $100, took it to Uganda, visited each project location and plotted six points on Google Maps, making the information and images public on their website.  Six years later, the charity has funded over 6,994 water projects in 20 countries serving over 2.5 million people with clean drinking waterCHARITY PUMP SENSORSThey have recently been allocated US$5 million for a pilot project via Google’s Global Impact Award to develop remote sensor technology specifically for groundwater.

So far, the charity has mapped each of its water projects to see how they function in real-time.  The remote sensor technology will help keep them posted on whether water is flowing at any of their projects, at any given time, anywhere in the world.

The efficient design of remote sensor technology means that individual community members don’t need to visit every project physically to ensure constant water flow.  These sensors manage time, budgets and resources with ease, allowing more time to be spent analyzing the actual water sample itself in the lab.

Below the surface: While real-time technology is growing more common throughout the water industry, groundwater applications are scarce.

RICHARDRichard Kolacz, president of Global Spatial Technology Solutions Inc. (GSTS), observes smart sensor capabilities that connect to groundwater sensors in Canada, allowing people to collect information from the sensors remotely.

GSTS LOGO2One Ontario conservation authority is already using one of GSTS’s water sensor prototypes on site.  Initially, conservation authorities collected information manually.  Now they’re able to collect it remotely.  “We’ve developed an interface – a means of connecting to a groundwater sensor— to collect information in a format that the conservation authority likes,” says Kolacz.  “Rather than waiting six months or more to collect data, they could have it back instantly.”

GROUNDWATER SENSORSThe data coming from groundwater sensors to conservation authorities allows them to monitor water quality and quantity, and helps them understand the health and use of the water.

What’s so important about monitoring water data?  The data could help First Nations communities in northern Ontario, according to Kolacz.  “We would have the ability to monitor key data points on potentially clean or waste water treatment plants, and provide opportunities to monitor the health and status of those facilities remotely,” he says.

Much like charity: water, the difficulty with GSTS’s prototype comes from having to train staff to manage facilities. The data still has to be analyzed, and the quality of that analysis depends upon a certain level of knowledge.

Please note:  I found the following YouTube video, published on Mar 27, 2013, that is directly related to the above information.  Mr. Kolacz speaks about GSTS’s most recent application regarding goundwater monitoring.  His presentation dealing with this topic runs from 3:20 to 7:30 on the video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=tEIb4z3YFe0#at=237

CHARITY SENSORS2Meanwhile, charity: water’s goal is to develop and install 4,000 low-cost remote sensors in existing and new water projects globally, all of which will transmit real-time data to the charity, its partners, and eventually to donors via status updates.  Canada can learn from this model. According to the 2010 Review and Assessment of Canadian Groundwater Resources, Management, Current Research Mechanisms and Priorities by theCCME LOGO Canadian Council of Ministers of the  Environment, practitioners in the field need access to organized groundwater data.  With projects like the ones charity: water and GSTS are piloting, that access can skyrocket.

SATELITEGroundwater is a valuable resource, but it is poorly understood and expensive to investigate. Incentives to effectively manage the resource are low. But respondents of the aforementioned review demand significant effort from the provincial government databases to provide up-to-date groundwater information accessible online. And once we embrace the new insights of cloud-based collaboration and networked sensor arrays, science-based policy will develop and advance, leading to more responsible water resource management and investments – especially when it comes to the murky and mysterious water that flows beneath us. Erin Pehlivan is a Toronto-based writer.

Related links ~

http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/earth-sciences/geography-boundary/remote-sensing/geospatial/1196

for Charity:water ~ http://washfunders.org/Blog/(offset)/30

WATER CONSERVATION TIPS

    WATER CONSERVATION

I am reblogging the following National Geographic article, ‘Water Conservation Tips’, and the link may be found at the end of the article.  Please read the full article as I am certain that you will find many new suggestions for conserving water in and around your home.

TOILETS, TAPS, LAUNDRY, SHOWERS AND DISHES
•1994 was the year that federally mandated low-flow shower heads, faucets, and toilets started to appear on the scene in significant numbers.
•On average, 10 gallons per day of your water footprint (or 14% of your indoor use) is lost to leaks. Short of installing new water-efficient fixtures, one of the easiest, most effective ways to cut your footprint is by repairing leaky faucets and toilets.
SHOWERHEAD•If you use a low-flow shower head, you can save 15 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower.
HOT WATER TANK•Every time you shave minutes off your use of hot water, you also save energy and keep dollars in your pocket.
running bath water•It takes about 70 gallons of water to fill a bathtub, so showers are generally the more water-efficient way to bathe.
TOILET•All of those flushes can add up to nearly 20 gallons a day down the toilet. If you still have a standard toilet, which uses close to 3.5 gallons a flush, you can save by retrofitting or filling your tank with something that will displace some of that water, such as a brick.
washing machine•Most front-loading machines are energy and water-efficient, using just over 20 gallons a load, while most top-loading machines, unless they are energy-efficient, use 40 gallons per load.
•Nearly 22% of indoor home water use comes from doing laundry. Save water by making sure to adjust the settings on your machine to the proper load size.
DISHWASHER•Dishwashing is a relatively small part of your water footprint—less than 2% of indoor use—but there are always ways to conserve. Using a machine is actually more water efficient than hand washing, especially if you run full loads.
ENERGY STAR SYMBOL•Energy Star dishwashers use about 4 gallons of water per load, and even standard machines use only about 6 gallons.
•Hand washing generally uses about 20 gallons of water each time.

FOOTPRINTYARDS AND POOLS
•Nearly 60% of a person’s household water footprint can go toward lawn and garden maintenance.
LAWN•Climate counts—where you live plays a role in how much water you use, especially when it comes to tending to a yard.
SWIMMING POOL•The average pool takes 22,000 gallons of water to fill, and if you don’t cover it, hundreds of gallons of water per month can be lost due to evaporation.

DIET
WATER USED IN FOOD•The water it takes to produce the average American diet alone—approximately 1,000 gallons per person per day—is more than the global average water footprint of 900 gallons per person per day for diet, household use, transportation, energy, and the consumption of material goods.
QUARTER POUNDER•That quarter pounder is worth more than 30 average American showers. One of the easiest ways to slim your water footprint is to eat less meat and dairy. Another way is to choose grass-fed, rather than grain-fed, since it can take a lot of water to grow corn and other feed crops.
POULTRY•A serving of poultry costs about 90 gallons of water to produce. There are also water costs embedded in the transportation of food (gasoline costs water to make). So, consider how far your food has to travel, and buy local to cut your water footprint.
PORK•Pork costs water to produce, and traditional pork production—to make your sausage, bacon, and chops—has also been the cause of some water pollution, as pig waste runs into local water sources.
•On average, a vegan, a person who doesn’t eat meat or dairy, indirectly consumes nearly 600 gallons of water per day less than a person who eats the average American diet.
COFFEE•A cup of coffee takes 55 gallons of water to make, with most of that H2O used to grow the coffee beans.

ELECTRICITY, FUEL ECONOMY, AND AIRLINE TRAVEL
ELECTRICITY•The water footprint of your per-day electricity use is based on state averages. If you use alternative energies such as wind and solar, your footprint could be less. (The use of biofuels, however, if they are heavily irrigated, could be another story.) You would also get points, or a footprint reduction, for using energy-star appliances and taking other energy-efficiency measures.
WASH CAR•Washing a car uses about 150 gallons of water, so by washing less frequently you can cut back your water use.
GAS•A gallon of gasoline takes nearly 13 gallons of water to produce. Combine your errands, carpool to work, or take public transportation to reduce both your energy and water use.
FLYING•Flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco, about 700 miles round-trip, could cost you more than 9,000 gallons of water, or enough for almost 2,000 average dishwasher loads.
•A cross-country airplane trip (about 6,000 miles) could be worth more than 1,700 standard toilet flushes.
•Traveling from Chicago to Istanbul is just about 10,000 miles round trip, costing enough water to run electricity in the average American home for one person for more than five years.

INDUSTRY—APPAREL, HOME FURNISHINGS, ELECTRONICS, AND PAPER
•According to recent reports, nearly 5% of all U.S. water withdrawals are used to fuel industry and the production of many of the material goods we stock up on weekly, monthly, and yearly.
COTTON TEE SHIRT•It takes about 100 gallons of water to grow and process a single pound of cotton, and the average American goes through about 35 pounds of new cotton material each year. Do you really need that additional T-shirt?
RECYCLE•One of the best ways to conserve water is to buy recycled goods, and to recycle your stuff when you’re done with it. Or, stick to buying only what you really need.
LAPTOP•The water required to create your laptop could wash nearly 70 loads of laundry in a standard machine.
PAPER•Recycling a pound of paper, less than the weight of your average newspaper, saves about 3.5 gallons of water. Buying recycled paper products saves water too, as it takes about six gallons of water to produce a dollar worth of paper.

Link to article ~ http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/water-conservation-tips/

CANADA ~ A WATER SOLUTIONS COUNTRY

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“A WATER SOLUTIONS COUNTRY –  Strategic steps for a more competitive water sector in Canada lead the way to global opportunities” – excerpts taken from the May/June issue of Water Canada by David Crane.

The availability and quality of water is the overarching challenge facing the global community in the 21st century. It is also Canada’s opportunity.

WORLD POPULATIONA world population that is projected to add 2.5 billion people by 2050, a global economy that is forecast to quadruple in this same period, the prospect of adding one billion people to the global middle class, and a sharp increase in the number of people in big cities will mean a an unprecedented demand for water. GLOBE WITH TAPAs well as more people, which will mean much greater need for clean water and sanitation, a bigger population with rising incomes means a much higher level of consumption of food, energy, natural resources, and industrial products—all of which will also increase the demand for water.

CLIMATE CHANGEAdd the expected impact of climate change on the distribution and availability of water, which could leave large numbers of people facing severe water stress, and the threats of drought and floods to food production, and it’s clear water is the most serious challenge we face. We can substitute batteries for oil in automobiles, but there is no substitute for water. So we face a water-stressed world.

WORLD WATER FORUMNeed, however, equals opportunity. The challenge is for Canada to contribute to water strategies and help the world meet the global water challenge. How do we utilize our strengths—the excellence of our engineering and technical Graduates, our proven academic research capabilities, and our innovative companies that can deliver water goods and services to build up a strong water sector—to generate new jobs and competitive companies while helping to meet the overarching global challenge?

WATER SOLUTIONS COUNTRY3

Steps for a world water strategy: First, Canadians need to raise the level of understanding, not only among policymakers but also among the wider public; that there is an enormous challenge facing the world and that there is also a significant opportunity for Canada, by strengthening our research base and the strength of our companies. This is the first great challenge—to identify our water champions who will provide the leadership to make Canada a water-solutions country. These champions must come not only from academia and our clean water companies but also from the user community, our municipalities, and businesses that need a safe and reliable water supply. Water users have a significant stake in a solutions strategy. OUTDOOR CANADAThere is the risk of complacency due to a widespread public assumption that Canada’s abundant water supply means we don’t face water challenges. Yet Canada itself faces challenges—to improve water quality and sanitation performance, meet the threats of droughts and floods in agricultural lands, ensure the efficient and sustainable use of water in energy and mining industries, meet the water needs of First Nations, and improve water efficiency and conservation technologies and practices in the economy and society. LIGHTBULBMeeting domestic challenges through innovative solutions will strengthen the research base and the capabilities and competitiveness of Canadian water companies. This means efforts to balance federal and provincial budgets must not come at the expense of research or improvements in water infrastructure. Cutting these investments would mean a weaker future Canadian economy. Research and infrastructure spending are investments in a more secure and sustainable future. Another challenge needs to be addressed: How do we grow more small companies into mid-size or large companies? Canada is very successful in starting companies, but many water companies are small and remain small. They face significant challenges in obtaining the capital needed to develop new products or services, pursue new domestic and foreign markets, build the management strengths they need for success, and scale up so that users and systems integrators in Canada and elsewhere are confident in using their products or services. Many promising smaller companies fail to make the transition to significant scale, which means they can become takeover targets by large multinational corporations seeking their proprietary technologies. While federal and provincial programs that support company technology development are important, we also need to find ways to strengthen the equity base of promising Canadian companies. It is equity rather than debt that enables companies to innovate and to pursue new products or markets.

There are many advantages in Canada, including a well-developed research base, a significant number of companies with proprietary technologies and experience in the global marketplace, easy access to the U.S. and Mexican markets (which have huge future water needs), universities and colleges that graduate high-quality engineers and technicians, and some well-targeted government programs to assist small and mid-size companies. Given these strengths, failing to capitalize on them to meet the enormous world need for water solutions would represent a huge lost opportunity for Canada.

DAVID CRANEDavid Crane is an award-winning Canadian writer and the author of Canada as the Water Solutions Country: Defining the Opportunities, a discussion paper published by the Blue Economy Initiative.