Canada's freshwater supply at risk without urgent action

    OTTAWA, Jan. 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Leading Canadian scientists, water policy
and legal experts and environmental activists signed on today to a landmark
Freshwater Declaration. The Declaration calls on all levels of government to
take urgent action now 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
government must use next week's new Throne Speech and Budget to recommit to
this promise and begin to take meaningful steps on several other critical
    "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."
    There exists a myth of water abundance. The reality is that only 1% of
our water in major watersheds like the Great Lakes Basin is renewed annually,
and in much of the rest of the country, the majority of water flows northward
and is unavailable to the populated parts of Canada. We are experiencing
regional water supply shortages, extreme pollution from oil sands and mining
operations, poor water resource management, a fragmented and uncoordinated
governance structure and complacency on the effect of climate change on our
water supply.
    The declaration therefore calls on our governments to transcend
traditional barriers between federal, provincial and municipal jurisdictions.
Among its major recommendations, it urges 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
    - Assume Canada's share of the collective global responsibility for
      equitable access to clean water

    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.
    "There are several parallels between this Declaration and the advice
provided to President-Elect Barrack Obama in November by about 25 U.S.
non-governmental organizations," said Ralph Pentland, a former Director of
Water Planning and Management with the federal government. "But whether the
Americans act now are not, our own governments must revitalize a badly
battered water science sector, reverse an unhealthy trend towards deregulation
and to capitalize on the tremendous opportunities offered by better
coordinating water, energy and climate policies."
    Canadian Pugwash and Science for Peace are concerned with advancing the
cause of peace, and alleviating the causes of global insecurity, including the
crises that would arise from failure to achieve an environmentally sustainable
future. Canadian Pugwash is the national affiliate of the Pugwash Conferences
on Science and World Affairs, which jointly with its founder Sir Joseph
Rotblat, received the Nobel Peace Prize. Both are registered charitable

    A copy of the Declaration is available at:

For further information:

For further information: Christopher Holcroft, Rideau Institute, Cell
(416) 996-0767,

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Rideau Institute on International Affairs

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