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Evaluating the State of Fresh Water in Canada

The study finds that more than four out of five (82 per cent) of the country’s freshwater monitoring sites indicated fair to excellent quality between 2014 and 2016, and only two per cent of sites indicated poor water quality.

Canada’s freshwater supply and water quality across the country is generally very good, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“Canadians are rightly sensitive about the country’s water supply, and the good news is that, overall, the quantity and quality of Canada’s freshwater is quite good,” said Ross McKitrick, professor of economics at the University of Guelph, Fraser Institute senior fellow and co-author of Evaluating the State of Fresh Water in Canada.

The study finds that more than four out of five (82 per cent) of the country’s freshwater monitoring sites indicated fair to excellent quality between 2014 and 2016, and only two per cent of sites indicated poor water quality.

Improvements were noted in municipal wastewater and sewage treatment, regulatory compliance of mining operations, and run-off from pulp and paper plants, among other sensitive uses.

But there are ongoing areas of concern that must continue to be monitored, particularly in the densely populated and agricultural areas in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River region.

The study also examined Canada’s quantity of freshwater—the third-largest renewable supply worldwide—and found Canadians consume only a small fraction (about one per cent) of the freshwater that is annually available in Canada.

“Stresses on water quality do exist, but the overall assessment of Canada’s freshwater is quite positive,” said Elmira Aliakbari, the Fraser Institute’s associate director of natural resource studies and study co-author.