|Priority 5 – Promoting a Culture of Water Conservation
- Dispel the Myth of Abundance
- Stop the Search for New Supplies
To date, progress on water conservation in Canada has been limited and piecemeal. Some municipalities now incorporate water efficiency programs into management strategies. At the same time, rapidly growing centres across the nation continue to follow the old hard path of supply-side management, developing new water sources and investing in engineered solutions and infrastructure such as reservoirs, powerful pumps and large pipelines. The story is similar in other sectors such as agriculture, which is Canada’s largest consumer of water, with most of the water consumed for irrigation purposes. Despite improvements to agricultural water efficiency, old proposals to dam up prairie rivers to supply irrigators with water have resurfaced, threatening to further fragment fragile ecosystems.
Action 17: Implement a National Education Program for Water Conservation.
- Under the supervision of a National Water Efficiency Institute, lead a national education campaign designed to dispel the myth of abundance in Canada. In collaboration with provinces and territories, the Institute would raise public awareness of the importance of water conservation through social marketing, school curriculums, and community events.
- Through the Institute, build capacity for comprehensive conservation by facilitating the sharing of best practices, offering direction on the use of economic instruments and full cost accounting, launching product rating programs, providing water auditing tools and creating model building codes and bylaws.
Action 18: Stimulate a Stronger Commitment to Reducing Water Demands in Urban Areas.
- Encourage a shift away from supply-side management by making all infrastructure grants contingent on effective water efficiency plans that include measurable and enforceable targets and objectives.
- Promote water conservation practices with financial incentives, and through financial support for universal water metering.
- Introduce a Water Efficiency Act, modeled on the Energy Efficiency Act, to set mandatory water efficiency standards for appliances and phase out outdated technologies such as 13 litre toilets.
- Provide additional resources to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to enable more rapid development of green communities.
Action 19: Foster Efficiency Improvements in Other Major Water Use Sectors.
- Implement regulations for thermal power production—which makes up two-thirds of the total water withdrawals in Canada—that require water used for cooling purposes to be recycled.
- Create an aggressive agricultural water efficiency program and work with provinces and the agricultural sector to replace subsidies for water use with incentives for water efficiency techniques such as effective water scheduling, drip irrigation, water reuse, and off-stream storage (where appropriate).
Go to Priority Five resources.