media release

Join the discussion on water conservation

November 03, 2011

Water experts talk about best practices in Canada and around the world

Deborah Harford, SFU ACT, 604.671.2449 (cell),
Dixon Tam, SFU media relations, 778.782.8742,

Renowned author and Forum for Leadership on Water (FLOW) co-chair Bob Sandford is sounding the warning bell across Canada on the detrimental impact climate change is having on our water system. His speaking tour, Securing Our Water Future, visits Simon Fraser University’s Vancouver campus Nov. 8.

Participants are invited to join Sandford and other renowned water experts for a thought-provoking discussion on water management lessons drawn from leading Canadian and international examples. The event runs from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at SFU’s Harbour Centre, Room 1400, 515 West Hastings St. Register here.

“The days when Canadians take an abundance of fresh water for granted are numbered,” warns Sandford, lead author of a new report on climate change adaptation and water governance from Simon Fraser University's Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT).

“Increasing average temperatures, climate change impacts on weather patterns and extensive changes in land use are seriously affecting the way water moves through the hydrological cycle in many parts of Canada, which is seriously impacting water quantity and quality.

“If Canada doesn’t become a water conservation society, water security in many parts of this country will be compromised.”

ACT’s Climate Change Adaptation and Water Governance report calls for a dramatic reform of water governance structures to meet the new challenges posed by a changing climate providing 12 broad-based recommendations to help protect Canada’s fragile water supply. The speaking tour focuses on a ground-breaking new water management strategy by the Northwest Territories as an example of ways decision-makers in the south could act on this crucial issue.

Climate change is causing increased weather instability, leading to more frequent, deeper and persistent droughts, as well as more intense rainfall and flooding across Canada. This results in greater property damage, higher insurance costs and a greater infrastructure maintenance and replacement deficit nationally. 

Today, half of every dollar paid out by insurance companies is for water damage related to extreme weather events, which will continue to increase unless government and planners undertake the deep reforms necessary to manage water differently.

“Canada is coping with climate change, not adapting,” says Sandford. “Our primary response to climate change has been focussed on reducing emissions. While such action is critical, it is inadequate by itself. Current and projected atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will result in continued climate change regardless of our success in reducing emissions.

“As well as cutting emissions, Canadians need to adapt to the current and anticipated effects of climate change, which requires more effective management of our precious water resources.”

Water policy in many parts of Canada has not kept pace with changing political, economic and climatic conditions. The last federal water policy was tabled in Parliament more than two decades ago and has never been fully implemented. And, today, less than 20 percent of Canada’s groundwater sources have been mapped.

The Securing Our Water Future public speaking tour is sponsored by: SFU, University of Regina, Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative, Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, Rocky Mountain Books, Water Canada Magazine, The Walrus, ACT, and the University of Victoria's POLIS Project on Ecological Governance.

Register here:

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