|Department||Canadian Water Network|
|Author||KAREN BAKKER, UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA DIANA ALLEN, SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY|
|Publisher||Canadian Water Network|
Fresh water-related issues (both quality and quantity) are of growing concern in Canada:
pp According to Environment Canada, one quarter of all Canadian communities have experienced water shortages since the
mid-nineties. This is coupled with extreme flooding events. These issues will be further affected by global climate change.
pp Water quality in rural communities is a concern. In 2007, there were 1766 boil water advisories across Canada in small
communities, some for more than 5 years. A further 93 boil water advisories were in place in First Nations communities.
pp Some ecosystems are showing signs of stress due to compromised water quality and declining water levels.
Water is a multi-purpose resource, with multiple users operating at different scales which creates competing uses and differing
views of stakeholders. Often there is inadequate consideration and assessment of risks to water and comprehensive risk
assessments are seldom applied to water-related issues. Such disparate water management challenges demand a broad,
integrative approach that accounts for multiple stressors and cumulative effects. The concept of water security is one such
Water security is an overarching concept of integrated water management that balances resource protection and resource
use. It takes a broad look at all demands placed upon a watershed, including quality, quantity (including climate change and
allocation), aquatic ecosystem health, human health, risk and adaptive governance. Water security examines the watershed as
a whole and demands a greater priority for water.
Assessment and management of water security involves four core elements:
1. Evaluate current status of water quality and quantity
2. Determine thresholds above which water is insecure
3. Assess risk, taking into account stressors like development and climate change
4. Integrate monitoring and assessment results in decision-making and policies Setting a goal of water security could enable decision-makers to effectively assess and mediate between conflicting demands for water use and minimize potentially adverse
impacts from land and water management practices.