Archive for the 'Water News – Canada' Category

One Step Closer to Water Conscious Construction

Heard of LEED certified?

It is the standard that house builders try to certify their homes through. It basically means using sustainable and energy conserving products. Really cool stuff.

Locally in Vancouver, the 2010 Olympics have required most of their buildings to be LEED certified, so it is an important standard. But what about water consumption?  Well, recently in North Carolina, the EPA have celebrated the very first water efficient home, built to use 10,000 less gallons than a normal house. Check out the article below, courtesy of our friends at Circle Of Blue.

CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina — As green builders proliferate across the nation, blue buildings are claiming their fifteen minutes as well. This November U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials celebrate the very first water efficient house in the country.

Certified by EPA’s partner program WaterSense, the Briar Chapel Community home uses 10,000 gallons less water than a conventional abode. With less resource-intensive irrigation, efficient internal plumbing and low consumption appliances, builders say the structure saves water from lawn to laundry.

The accomplishment marks an important step toward increased consumer consciousness concerning resource use in the U.S. According to Water Partners International, the average American uses 100 to 176 gallons of water a day. That equals about 30 times the four to five gallons needed to survive. The average African uses 5 gallons.

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No Water Gets No Attention

In a revealing article on Canadian Maude Barlow by Embassy Magazine, the newly minted senior adviser on water to the UN General Assembly, lets loose on what has driven her for the past 23 years: Water. With her new position, she is seeking to position water-related issues into the global forefront, alongside poverty and food issues.

Since WaterDrop started this blog, we’ve been continually seeking the information to show that water is a growing crisis that is looming underneath the world’s radar. Ms. Barlow frankly states that more deaths are caused by water-borne diseases than by war, traffic accidents and HIV combined. These alarming facts are true and the water crisis receives very little attention.

I find it astounding that in both this country and the United States, there was another federal election with not one mention of water. I find it astounding. I mean in the U.S., there are seven states in absolute crisis now. To me it’s such a disconnect and it’s still the biggest problem we have.

Ms. Barlow strives to ensure the clean water that we currently have is protected and that the private sector does not have the power to dictate costs over those who need pure, clean water the most. She believes that technology is not the answer to the question.

Can we protect the sources we have as best as we can or are we going to cavalierly destroy them and then assume technology will clean it up?

Check out the full article here.

Canada’s own Maude Barlow named senior UN water advisor

Maude Barlow, a world-renowned water activist and Canadian, has been named the senior water advisor for the United Nations. She will be working closely with Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, president of the 63rd session of the United Nations, to bring the water issue into a global light.

She is attempting to work with the United Nations to introduce a three-pronged plan.

Three goals: Use the incredible talent, research and resources that exist at the UN and give it direction, a vision and cohesion. Second: To shift the power balance around water from institutions like the World Bank and World Water Forum and give them transparency at the UN General Assembly. And third, he is supportive of the principle of the universal right to water. We will be unveiling a plan on Dec. 10, which is the 60th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Maude Barlow.

Check out the full article here. It’s a great article with Ms. Barlow expressing great concern on the growing global water crisis. Not only does she talk about the water of the world at large, but the impact Canada has on the world’s water supply. Why don’t we prevent a problem before it begins? Canada is not impervious to water problems, there are growing water scarcities all over the country.

You can check out a documentary on water that recently came out here. The film is called “Flow” and has  been featured in film festivals all across the world (with Sundance being one of them). Maude Barlow is featured heavily in this film. The documentary asks us a vital question: can anyone really own water?

Saving Water = Saving Money

In an article by Canwest News Service, Canadians are slowly (yet surely) taking up the mentality to save water and energy. According to a study by Statistics Canada pointed out by the article, the percentage of Canadians who have installed low-flow toilets increased from 15 percent in 1996 to 27 percent in 2004. Low flow shower-head use increased from 44 percent to 57 percent as well.

Save a drop, save a cent

Canadians consume on average 329 litres of water per day, second to only the United States. Flushing toilets and showering accounts for slightly more than half the daily water use.

Canada also happens to have the highest per capita supply of freshwater of industrial countries, accounting for 0.5 per cent of the world’s population but seven per cent of the globe’s total renewable water flow.

More and more Canadians are also making efforts to lessen their energy consumption. For example, by turning down the thermostat while people in the household are asleep. Canada still have a long way to go before it can truly be called a water sustainable nation, but its citizens are making active steps as illustrated by the statistics.

With so much renewable water flow, Canada is (or will be) the envy of the world. With that much fresh water, we have the responsibility to use it wisely and invest for the future. Not only for our sake, but for the sake of other nations and future generations.

Canada’s Blue Gold

Canada contains 21 percent of the 0.8 percent of total freshwater in the world. In an article by the Ottawa Citizen, they dub water as the 21st century’s “Blue Gold.” Luckily for Canada, it is one of its most abundant resources. Unluckily for Canada, the statistics are deceiving.

However, with the increasing number of countries worldwide facing water shortages and droughts, the only water that really matters is renewable water resources such as rainfall and snow melt. Canada has less than 10 percent of the world’s renewable water.

Most of this freshwater comes from the Great Lakes, which is already in danger of “over-pumping.” According to the article, even though many people and media sources revile bottled water as wasteful water use (which it is), more H2O is used to create milk, soft drinks, beer and products. Many fear that water is being wasted in the industrial sector, but according to figures, most water drawn from the Great Lakes are used to run hydro electric plants or to cooling resources for industrial processes and immediately returned to the source.

Pollution and invasive creatures threaten the Great Lakes as well. Because large shipping boats dump their ballasts into the lake, they also release hundreds of volatile and invasive creatures, further polluting the water. Frankly, there are also heavy signs of simple pollution from domestic dishwashers and agricultural processes.

With all this in mind, it goes to show that water is building steam (no pun intended) as we lunge head first into this new century. Oil is on everyone’s mind these days, but humanity can survive without oil, we can’t last three days without water. Wasting water is easy, conserving water is easier. You do the math.

Read the entire article here.

World News: Desparate Times In New England

I found an interesting article today about New England opening a desalinization plant despite its seemingly abundant water resources. The full article can be found here

Desalinization Plant

Desalinization Plant in New England

Despite abundant lakes and good rainfall, weak groundwater resources have crimped economic growth in some areas. As a result, the first big New England desalination plant turning brackish (salt water, fresh water mix) into fresh is expected to go online in Massachusetts this month.

That surprises some people, but not Robert Tannenwald, an economist and director of the New England Public Policy Center at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Two years ago he did a study showing that New England – contrary to public perceptions – is not at all water-rich region, but one that needs to manage its water supplies more carefully and look for new sources.

“There’s still a general mind-set [in New England] that water as a resource is not in scarce supply – but it is,” Mr. Tannenwald says. “We waste a lot of water. There’s a lot of leaky pipes around here. So economics has to kick in and water has to be priced accordingly for the waste to stop.”

Tannenwald’s statement about the general mind-set of New Englanders, is not just limited to the north eastern United States. Living in the very water rich environment of Vancouver, it is sometimes easy to slip into this mentality. However, with Canada’s fresh water resources limited, it is important to note that Vancouver and Canada as a whole are not impervious to a water scarcity.

Metro-Vancouver is expected to grow 34% to just under 2.9 million people over the next 20 years, and our fresh water supply will have to keep up. In the article, the author points to economic growth as the main motivator for the desalinization plant, as without it, New England’s economy would not be able to expand. It would truly be a shame for Vancouver to have to go through the same scenario, limiting it’s economic potential for a situation as preventable and responsible as water conservation and sustainability.

Water Nation

Who do you think uses the most water in the world? Automatically, most of us here in Canada, as well as the rest of the world will look southward to our neighbor, the United States, which happens to be true. Who do you think comes in second? Canada. That is an answer must of us would not expect.

Water: Quietly overlooked.

Canada is a proactive nation when it comes to conservation. We try to drive less, we turn down our fire places and furnaces, we use energy-conserving light bulbs and many other activities, but one blaring aspect that we overlook is conserving water. The Vancouver public maintains an opinion that since it rains here in abundance, that freshwater is readily available in copious amounts. However, consider the fact that we receive a great deal of our freshwater from glacier run-off and we only receive 40 percent of rain water (the rest drains northward to inaccessible regions). We don’t have as much freshwater as you may think. Canada does have an abundance of fresh water, placing third in the world, but that does not mean that water will not be an issue now and in the near future. Even with the world’s third largest freshwater supply, there are currently water issues all over Canada. Most of Canada’s population is centered around the Great Lakes, which is currently having massive water issues. One in three Canadians live around the Great Lakes and water levels there are at a historic low. The conditions are worsening. Canada is having water issues, yet we keep using more and the population continues to boom.

As we have stated in some of our previous blogs, on average, each Canadian uses 335 litres of water, not just in a week, but every single day. That’s 2,345 in a week, 9,380 in a month and 112,560 in a year. Phew! Hold your breath. That’s 49,683,984,000 litres a year for British Columbia’s population alone. Even more mind-boggling is that Canadians as a whole use double the amount of freshwater than Europeans do. There’s more. Guess where water consumption is decreasing? The United States. Now take a guess who’s water consumption is increasing? Canada. Our water consumption has increased nearly 25 percent in the past decade alone and there are no signs of letting up. Think about it this way, we could be using 25,000,000,000 litres a year. If those Europeans can survive on 170 litres a day, than we can do it.

Check out this article from the Vancouver Sun. It is pretty eye-opening.

UPDATE: June 17-2008. Reader Chris Murphy lets us know about this..

How’s this for Canadian Water preservation: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/06/16/condemned-lakes.html

Mining companies get big subsides on the back of Canadian fresh water.


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