National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

November 17, 2011 07:00 ET

Canada Needs Fresh Approach to Water Supply Management for Natural Resource Sectors

says new report by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 17, 2011) - A new report released today by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRT) says that if Canada is to ensure the sustainability of its water supply - which is crucial to the prosperity of its natural resource sector industries – governments at all levels will need to engage in collaborative models of governance, collaborate in the development and publication of a regularly updated national Water Outlook, the first to be published within two years, and further explore the use of water pricing for its largest user: the natural resource sectors.

The report concludes that water has real economic value and outlines the steps Canada should take to value, better manage, and sustain water use by Canada's natural resource sectors. While the report highlights that water use from the natural resource sectors totals 86% of Canada's overall water use, it also predicts an increase in water intake due of economic growth forecasted in this sector of the Canadian economy.

Charting a Course: Sustainable Water Use by Canada's Natural Resource Sectors is NRT's second report concerning sustainable water use by Canada's natural resource sectors. The first NRT report, Changing Currents, released in June 2010, identified issues that policy makers need to pay attention to, while this report demonstrates the long-term importance of getting water sustainability on the agenda of industries, governments and communities.

In this report, the NRT:

  • Sets out key principles to govern sustainable water use by the natural resources sectors:
    • Water has value in economic, environmental and social terms;
    • Water must be conserved and used efficiently;
    • Water governance and management should be both adaptive and collaborative.
  • Shows that three emerging and promising policy approaches would improve water conservation and efficiency:
    • Economic instruments such as pricing and tradable water permits;
    • Well-designed and properly implemented voluntary initiatives by industry;
    • Better data and information than is currently available.
  • Shows for the first time the potential benefits of pricing water. The report's scenario shows that a 20% water intake reduction could be achieved with water prices ranging from 5 to 9 cents per cubic meter.
  • Highlights new collaborative ways to govern water use by all interests in a watershed.
  • Demonstrates the importance of reliable information and robust data so governments at all levels can make sustainable water allocation and management decisions for the future.

In Charting a Course, NRT also recommends several potential avenues of solutions in the areas of water demand forecasts, new policy instruments, information and data improvements and more effective collaborative governance approaches. The NRT calls for:

  • A much better understanding of potential future water demands by the sectors;
  • Water policies that are adaptive and responsive to changing conditions;
  • Governments to affirm the legitimacy of collaborative water governance approaches;
  • The development of common measurement techniques for collection of water-quantity data.

"While a shortage of water is not an imminent issue facing Canada, the overall demand by the natural resource sectors is increasing, said NRT Vice-Chair Mark Parent. "This represents an opportunity for Canada to get ahead of a future problem and proactively take steps towards sustainable water governance and management".

In order to provide further guidance to governments, the NRT will be convening experts from across the country at an event to be held on January 12, in Ottawa, to develop a national action plan on how best to implement the recommendations contained in the report.

According to David McLaughlin, President and CEO of the NRT, "Water's value – both environmentally and economically – must be brought to the forefront of governments' agendas across the country not only to ensure the sustainable development of our natural resources, but also to ensure that our natural ecosystems are protected for future generations."

About the Round Table

Through the development of innovative policy research and considered advice, the NRT's mission is to help Canada achieve sustainable development solutions that integrate environmental and economic considerations to ensure the lasting prosperity and well-being of our nation. The NRT is the only national organization with a direct mandate from Parliament to engage Canadians in the generation and promotion of sustainable development advice.

A media backgrounder on Charting a Course: Sustainable Water Use by Canada's Natural Resource Sectors can be found at and the report is available on the Round Table's website:

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