Our Collective Principles
As a group, we are united by the following principles that we believe form the foundation for sustainable water management in Canada:
A Conservation Ethic: In contrast to the traditional ‘hard’ approach that seeks to control or manipulate natural systems, a conservation ethic requires that our use and management of water respects and protects the environment. This means that the water management of the future will need to be ‘softer’ than in the past and will rely less on increasing the water supply and more on reducing our water demand. Reliance on large infrastructure, such as the big pipes and mega-dams that dislocate river systems, will be replaced with non-structural solutions such as planning, education and economic instruments.
A Citizen-Centred Vision: The forces of globalism are increasingly overwhelming the rights of ordinary citizens and the public commons. In response, we must recognize that all Canadians have the right to safe, clean water for fulfilling basic personal and domestic needs, and that it is the duty of all governments to protect and preserve water resources for the use and enjoyment of the entire population, not just the privileged. Where this duty is not being met, Canadian citizens should have the right to insist on the full consideration of the public interest through effective mechanisms, like those that exist in other countries under the doctrine of ‘public trust’.
Thinking Like a Watershed: Because watershed boundaries seldom coincide with political boundaries, we need to take better account of watersheds in our decision-making. Watershed-based management requires an appreciation of the complex interactions that occur between the natural hydrological system and human activities. Activities such as water abstraction, urban development, commercial and agricultural operations all impact the quantity and quality of both surface and groundwater. The complexity of these interactions means that our future management approaches need to be more integrated, precautionary and adaptive.