On Thursday, June 25th water experts and enthusiasts from across the country converged in Vancouver, B.C. at the 6th annual Canadian Water Summit. The topic of this year’s conference was The Energy of Water: Exploring Nexus Opportunities which included remarks from the Honourable Mary Polak, B.C.’s Minister of Environment; Margaret Catley-Carlson, Patron at the Global Water Partnership, and; the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of B.C. amongst many others.
While the day was full of information and interesting facts, there were five points that really stood out. The following are topics covered in either presentations or discussions at the conference.
1. Integrated water management requires integrated decision-making.
At the outset of the conference, discussions focused on how decision-making must incorporate the expertise and viewpoints of various water experts and stakeholders. Using this integrated approach to water management allows for decisions and public policy to reflect the values of those working in the field of water.
|The Honourable Judith Guichon speaking at the Canadian Water Summit. Photo courtesy of the author|
2. It takes a village to resolve water issues and manage water resources
Throughout Canada there are “water clusters” that provide information, technology, research and management expertise in the area of water. In some jurisdictions, such as Ontario, there can be up to 1000 companies working in the field of water. This level of engagement shows that water requires the involvement of many people and organizations with diverse backgrounds.
3. There are significant barriers facing the water technology sector
The water technology sector is challenged by too many regulations, a lack of support for innovation and stiff competition. These barriers complicate the process of getting new water technology into the marketplace, otherwise called a “valley of death”. To address these challenges, support for new and small businesses is required to show water as a viable option to increase economic growth.
|Brochure from the 2015 Canadian Water Summit. Photo courtesy of the author|
4. Wastewater facilities are evolving into energy and resource recovery facilities
Water is heavy, which makes it very difficult to move. Water pumping, for example, takes approximately 90-99% of energy consumption. Interestingly, this has opened the door for wastewater facilities to explore opportunities in energy and resource recovery. This includes experiments in methane capture and incineration.
|View of Vancouver harbour from Kitsilano Beach. Photo courtesy of the author|
5. Most Canadians don’t know what watershed they live in
WWF Canada has recently completed a country-wide watershed assessment indicating that most Canadians have no idea which watershed they live in. This lack of knowledge and education impacts our ability to make decisions regarding the management of Canada’s water resources. This troubling fact further highlights the notion that with rights to water come obligations. In other words, we all have an obligation to learn about our local watershed to further protect our water resources.
Overall, the Canadian Water Summit was an excellent opportunity for knowledge sharing that brought together experts in Canadian water technology, management and policy. There is an abundance of work being done in the area of water that can benefit Canadians and the water resources we all share.
Lindsay Kline is a researcher at Alberta WaterSMART.