Understanding the risks to Canada’s drinking water
Over the past two years, my colleagues and I have studied the Canadian water sector with an eye to better understanding its risks.
Infrastructure tops the list The first category includes infrastructure risks that can result in wasted water and water contamination.
These risks are often the domain of the technical experts, but we sometimes neglect important social considerations.
People don’t like to pay for the true cost of water.
But the second and third categories of risk to freshwater supply are more problematic.
While Canadian water service providers recognize some of the potential consequences of these threats, they spend less time worrying about these types of risks, largely because they exist outside of their routines and they don’t have adequate data, policies or training.
In order to improve our understanding risks, we need to continue to support research so we can understand them better.
We also need to allow those in the water sector and researchers to exchange information and learn from each other.
Environmental groups are opposed to fracking, for example, because they believe that fracking will contaminate the water supply, and that the consequences could be irreversible.
These approaches also lack clear indicators of who is paying the price for failing to advance new policies, and how we can provide evidence that people will accept before moving ahead with new policies.