The Council of Canadians and MiningWatch Canada have made public a report drafted by Environment Canada in December 2007 revealing that the agency had documented crucial information regarding the state of freshwater in Canada.

The report, titled “A Federal Perspective on Water Quantity Issues,” which was obtained through an Access To Information request, warns “there may be heightened risk for jurisdictional conflict for water allocation between provinces and also between Canada and the United States.”

“We are concerned that this information […] was not publicly released months ago,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “Now we know that Environment Canada has pointed to the possibility of pressure to export water to the United States, given the water crisis in the American Southwest and the impacts of climate change.”

The Environment Canada report also emphasizes that only 1 per cent of Canada’s total water supply is renewed annually. It points to unsustainable industrial consumption of water in the energy and agricultural sectors.

The Council of Canadians and MiningWatch Canada are concerned with the lack of legislative protection for Canada’s freshwater and assert that recent policies have exacerbated the problem. The groups are also concerned that the recommendations put forward in the report do not call for a national water policy that protects Canada’s freshwater, bans bulk water exports and recognizes water as a human right.

See the September/October issue of Canadian Water Treatment for a point/counterpoint debate on bulk water exports.

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