National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

June 17, 2010 08:00 ET

NRTEE Releases New Report On Industrial Use of Canada's Water by Natural Resource Sectors

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 17, 2010) - The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy today released a new report examining the sustainability of Canada's water supply and its use by the nation's major resource sectors.

The report, which reviews water use by the agriculture, forest, mining, electricity and oil and gas sectors, says that the time is now for Canadian policy makers, businesses, environmental groups and other concerned Canadians to look at ways to modernize outdated and inadequate water management practices. The report, entitled Changing Currents: Water Sustainability and the Future of Canada's Natural Resource Sectors, can be downloaded from the Round Table's website at

The report concludes:

  • Data on precise water use and access to such data is limited, making it difficult to know the national supply of water and the amounts being used.
  • Approaches to allocating water in most of Canada are increasingly outdated and may no longer be appropriate given new environmental pressures and competing economic interests.
  • Several levels of governments share jurisdiction over monitoring and managing water, leading to potential confusion among businesses which need water for production purposes.
  • There is an overall lack of capacity and expertise across the country to effectively manage water resources.
  • The impacts of climate change are expected to transform the way Canadians need to manage water resources.

"Governance at a national level is not currently positioned to respond to expected increasing pressure on our water resources," says the report's executive summary. "This is largely due to jurisdictional complexity, inconsistent approaches across the country, policy fragmentation, a lack of resources, and insufficient technical, scientific, and policy capacity."

Growth in the natural resource sectors is expected to climb by between 50 and 65 per cent by 2030. The report calls for a national framework to deal with the issues and expected pressures outlined in the report.

"While Canada is blessed with an abundance of freshwater, an expected increase in the development of the natural resource sectors begs the question of whether our country has enough to support economic growth while also maintaining the health of our ecosystems," said NRTEE Vice-Chair Robert Slater.

NRTEE President and Chief Executive Officer David McLaughlin said Canada needs to get a better handle on the quantity of water being used and how much is needed in the future.

"New stresses and demands are likely to pose a significant challenge to the sustainability of Canada's water resources if action is not taken now," said Mr. McLaughlin.

The report was released on the day of the Canadian Water Summit in Mississauga, where Mr. McLaughlin took part.

In its next report, the Round Table will make policy recommendations to deal with water issues identified in the current volume. The report will focus on improving current water allocation approaches, better collection and management of water-use data, and new policy ideas for water management that include market-based instruments.

Contact Information

  • For interviews with David McLaughlin
    or Robert Slater, please contact:
    Brian Laghi
    NRTEE Director of Communications and Public Affairs
    613-943-2054 or 613-882-8134 c