Canadian scientists, water policy and legal experts and environmental activists signed on today to a Freshwater Declaration, calling on all levels of government to take urgent action to develop an integrated freshwater strategy that protects the needs of nature while providing equitable measures to supply water for human needs, agriculture and industry.

In its previous two Throne Speeches, the federal Conservative government pledged to develop a new water strategy for Canada and pass legislation to prohibit bulk removals of water from Canada’s major river basins. The declaration asks the government to use next week’s new Throne Speech and Budget to recommit to this promise and begin to take meaningful steps on several other critical measures.

“It is the mandate of governments to protect and preserve freshwater resources for the needs and enjoyment of all Canadians,” said Dr. Adele Buckley, chair of the Roundtable on Freshwater, the catalyst for the declaration. “In the absence of an integrated policy, we are flying blind as a nation and jeopardizing our economic and social prosperity.”

Among its major recommendations, the declaration asks governments to:

– Develop a Canada-wide freshwater strategy

– Fund freshwater and wastewater infrastructure, linking it to plans that incorporate conservation, efficiency and innovation

– Enable formation of enlightened policy by reinstating scientific research and data collection

– Improve and enforce regulatory safeguards

– Bring climate change adaptation into the mainstream of water policies

– Prohibit bulk water removals from Canada’s water basins through binding legislation

– Assume Canada’s share of the collective global responsibility for equitable access to clean water

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The declaration flows from the Roundtable on Freshwater, held in Toronto in November, 2008, part of the continuing program of the Global Issues Project, of Science for Peace and Canadian Pugwash.

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