Canada stands at a watershed concerning freshwater management and governance. Despite being one of the few relatively water-rich nations of the world, Canada’s freshwater resources are under threat. Pollution, wasteful habits poor management, increasing urbanization and the looming pectre of climate change conspire to create scarcity. Yet the current approach to water management and governance continues to reinforce the supply-oriented status quo. In Canada a water crisis will be of our own making.
The watershed is the logical starting point for sustainable water management. To maintain reliable future water supplies and healthy aquatic ecosystems, all actions must be considered for their cumulative impact on watersheds. Resilience and ecological function must be the foundation to ensure sustainable water for prosperous communities now and into the future. This requires that we move to demand management and the development of a water ethic from being an “add-on” solution to becoming a foundational tool for watershed managers, water planners and all water users up and down the watershed. Watershed governance takes a holistic approach and requires that we shift the focus from managing water resources toward managing how people live as watershed citizens. To achieve this vision of sustainability and prosperity will require leadership at all levels of society and most importantly a commitment to action.
NOTE: The Global Issues Project’s Roundtable on Water will be held 8-9 November following the public forum on water, 7 November.