Water Water Everywhere

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

We just finished World Water day, and as Canadians, we tend to undervalue our water systems and exploit them ruthlessly through personal, industrial and agricultural use. One could argue that this is due to the “staple thesis” or Canada’s economy being reliant on the extraction and production of natural resources but really? That’s kind of a lame excuse I would expect to hear from someone in economics (sorry, sister).

In terms of water, Canada is well off geographically. It is surrounded by three oceans, has the large basins of the Great Lakes and Hudson Bay and is riddled with smaller lakes along its surface- particularly in the Niagara Escarpment region. In fact, Canada possesses the third largest amount of renewable freshwater in the world following Brazil and Russia. However, Canadians are terrible at using their water. This precious resource is being exhausted by Canadians who each use on average 335L a day! Per capita, our country ranks second last in water consumption- followed only by the United States.

Where is our water going? Well, other than the obvious personal exploitation by residents, the government of Canada has identified some major consumers as: thermal power, manufacturing and agriculture. The energy sector consumes 64%, manufacturing 15% and agriculture 9%. Bringing it down to a personal level, I decided to take the “Water Calculator Survey” on the government of Canada’s website. I was glad to see that my daily use was below the provincial average of 285L/day but I recognize as a university student that pays for water, does not own a dishwasher, laundry machine, and was taught from a very young age about the poor fishies that I’m stealing water from (thanks, mom) that I would have a lower consumption rate.

What can we do? As Canadians, we can take several steps in order to reduce our average consumption of water including installing low flow toilets, shower heads, and faucets. Some of these renovations can be expensive, but if you happen to be a student living in a rented place and your landlord does some renovating, suggest it! I went home over reading week and my father had just redone the bathroom, complete with a low flow toilet that uses only 6L compared to the old 20L models found in older homes. Furthermore, it is as simple as turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, shortening your showers and baths and not running the water while doing dishes!


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