Water is vital to every aspect of life. All major sectors of our economy, including agri-food, resource development, manufacturing, health, and tourism are dependent on water. Many of us take this important resource for granted. We simply turn on the tap — without considering the energy, cost, and expertise needed.  

A national resource

Typically, the same level of energy goes into purifying the water we use in fighting fires and washing our cars as it does for providing safe drinking water. If we think about the many ways Canadians use water, we begin to understand our water systems’ complexity.

"We are anticipating and recognizing the inevitability of increased severe weather events, the impacts of population growth, and changes in our communities."

Canada is currently the world’s third-largest exporter of “virtual water.” Virtual water is the water used to produce and manufacture goods — including food products that we export to other countries. This demonstrates the invisible power and impact of our water resources in Canada. We can leverage our water resources and expertise to ensure that Canada remains resilient and adaptive in the global water landscape.

A good investment

Both nationally and in Ontario, we are living in a new normal. We are anticipating and recognizing the inevitability of increased severe weather events, the impacts of population growth, and changes in our communities.

According to the Canadian Infrastructure Report Card, the estimated replacement value of Canadian drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems is $362 billion. In 2012 the report estimated that over $80 billion is needed to replace aging water infrastructure.

Another $20 billion is needed for upgrades of existing infrastructure to meet the new Federal wastewater regulations over the next 20 years. That does not include investments to adapt to climate change, accommodate population growth, or improve service.

While the investment needed to replace our water systems may seem immense, in responding, Canada can demonstrate the skills and talent to become a world leader in water management, conservation, ecosystem protection, technological innovation, and water policy.

Going forward

We have the resources — both water and water experts — to proactively manage our new normal. Although, we need to combine these resources effectively and use them to our best advantage so that we can respond to our challenges and opportunities.

We encourage Canadians to look to the future and help to identify opportunities to become water leaders in conservation, wastewater and stormwater systems, innovative water technologies, and renewable energy alternatives.  We have the potential to put Canada on the map as a global leader in water management and stewardship.