Say what you will about Canada being up on the latest trends in fashion or music, but our neighbor to the North may be on the verge of setting the course in national water management policy. Recently ministers from across the country met to talk about how best to protect and preserve Canada’s water from the effects of climate change- not to argue about whether it was happening or what the economic issues around it are. The premiers and territorial leaders of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut met for the Western Premiers’ Conference and agreed that immediate action is needed to conserve Canada’s fresh water supplies. The leaders agreed to a Water Charter, stating that climate change has affected the water situation, and that water is “an essential component of all life on Earth and there is no substitute.”
“The impacts of melting glaciers and decreasing snow packs and flood threats such as we are seeing right now in the Prairies are threatening the future of our fresh water supply. One of the biggest challenges may be changing our own habits.” — Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia
According to Campbell, B.C. and Alberta glaciers have decreased by close to 11% between 1985 and 2005.
The agreement makes protecting their water resources a priority- something that stands in sharp contrast to the current situation in the Gulf of Mexico and U.S. water awareness overall. The entire United States west of the Mississippi is in a perpetual water crisis, and water around the country continues to be wasted and degraded. Can you name one federal program or large movement to address that as an issue?
Here is what the western premiers of Canada agreed to:
- A “WaterSense” federal public awareness campaign to label products to help Canadians choose low water-use appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.
- A Western Water Stewardship Council to work toward lowering national and provincial consumption rates.
- Make World Water Day on March 22, 2011 a national event to promote water conservation.
As climate change begins to affect water around the world, from acidification in the oceans to glacial melting in the mountains, nationwide awareness and action programs like these will be welcome, and necessary.