Although it is important today to be aware of how much water you are using, and possibly wasting — Canadians consume a whopping 4,400 litres of water per day per person — water quality is becoming a big issue too, says Mark Mattson, director of the non-profit watchdog organization, Waterkeepers.
“In fact, water may be a bigger polluter than air,” he says.
But when it comes to water, it’s not all bad news. Provincial and federal governments have cranked up their efforts to help protect waterways, funding cities to rebuild water system infrastructures that have been neglected with the past several decades of growth, says Mattson.
The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), a 15-year-old forum for collaborating on environmental issues, has devised a national action plan to increase municipal water use efficiency, and to protect drinking water from source to tap.
To address potential water shortages, Agriculture Canada is looking at ways to capture water during spring snowmelt for storage behind dams or in reservoirs to use later irrigation. The ministry is also investigating use of lower moisture crops, and management practices for improving crop production.
April also marks a major environmental success story in Canada. Mattson explains:
“The opening of the causeway gates on the Petitcodiac River in Moncton has launched the biggest fish restoration project in the world, and will take the river off the endangered list!”
What can you do
Reduce water consumption: run full dishwasher loads, trade in your old toilet for a low-flow model, buy a front load washer, collect rainwater for the garden.
Divert waste that can leach into the water table at garbage sites. Properly dispose of wet food wastes (in compost), leftover medicines (return to your drugstore who will dispose of it safely) and chemicals such as leftover paint, varsol, etc. (bring to a drop off depot; check your municipality for the location.)
Check out waterkeepers.ca or better yet, start your own local chapter.
Help clean up shorelines by volunteering for the Great Canadian Shore Cleanup (Sept 18-26, 2010).