New report, expert panels and NASA satellite photos show need to map,
monitor and manage supplies in an era of drought and climate change
TORONTO, June 25, 2013 /CNW/ - Millions of Canadians depend on
groundwater for their supplies, yet we know little about this
underground supply or how it's changing over time, says the author of a
new policy paper presented here today.
Ed Struzik, award-winning environment writer, told leading Canadian and
international experts that it's important to do more to map, monitor
and manage groundwater supplies because our reliance on this resource
is bound to increase.
Mapping tells us where groundwater is, how it moves and how it is
replenished over time. Monitoring tells us how much groundwater we
have, what its quality is, and how the quantity and quality are
changing. But mapping and monitoring water far below the earth's
surface is not easy or cheap.
"There are technologies for making groundwater visible and options for
internalizing costs. We need to embrace these tools," Struzik said in
his paper and presentation, Underground Intelligence: The need to map, monitor and manage Canada's
groundwater resources in an era of drought and climate change.
"If we continue to treat groundwater with a lack of respect, we do so at
The frequency and intensity of droughts since the 1990s and effects of
climate change make it all the more important to treat groundwater more
seriously, he noted.
"We already face groundwater problems, and they will likely get worse as
agricultural activities intensify, as demands on water from cities and
industry, mining and energy developments grow, as pollutants migrate
from historical and current sources into groundwater and as the impacts
of climate change alter precipitation patterns and the storage of water
in glaciers, snowpack and reservoirs."
Struzik's presentation took place at a day-long session hosted by the
University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs Program on Water
Issues. His presentation was webcast and the session included panel
discussions and questions by participating experts and the live and
The event included a presentation of striking NASA photos showing
changes in groundwater levels across North America. In both his paper
and presentation, Struzik noted that better mapping and monitoring
— which can assist in better management — are possible thanks to these
kinds of advances in research and technology.
"Groundwater mapping and modeling can help farmers, industry,
municipalities, and even managers of natural areas plan on how much
groundwater can be pumped from an aquifer without running it dry.
Mapping and modeling can help scientists predict how groundwater will
respond to stresses such as over-pumping, seawater intrusion,
urbanization, drought and climate change," said Struzik.
The solutions are costly and will require more inter-governmental
cooperation and new financing — including taxes in some cases, Struzik
added. At the same time, better mapping, monitoring and management are
possible, and critically important, because up to one-third of
Canadians depend on groundwater.
Struzik made 10 recommendations including putting a more realistic price
on water use for Canadians.
"Water is one of Canada's most important natural assets, one that
contributes between $7.8 and $22.9 billion to the economy each year.
It's time for more jurisdictions to start putting a price on
groundwater and on surface water," he said.
Underground Intelligence and the proceedings of today's panel can be found at http://powi.ca/
SOURCE: Program on Water Issues, Munk School, University of Toronto
For further information:
Program on Water Issues