Alberta has enough water to handle current demand, but we'd be fools to take it for granted.

"We are in an area where the further south in the province you go, water shortage is a real issue that we need to address," said Brent Paterson of the Alberta Department of Agriculture,

Paterson was one of several speakers at a water conservation seminar in Calgary, sponsored by the Conference Board of Canada. The dominant theme of the meeting was the need to recognize, first of all, that water supply is not inexhaustible, and second, that we need to act now.

"If we do not reform our water policies, the room we have to move now in terms of managing differently will be gone. And we will end up like every other country in the world that has water stresses that it can't manage well," said Robert Sandford of United Nations Water for Life.

The Alberta oil sands, for example, consume millions of litres of Athabasca River water every day.

According to Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner, water is a complex issue.

"There's no silver bullet, there's no magic solution," he said.

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