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The Forecast: Water Scarcity in Alberta, Canada

Updated on January 26, 2016
Source

Wake Up Canada on Water Scarcity

While the world has faced water issues for decades...the same issues are now presenting themselves in Canada. Water and resource scarcity are hot topics Canada must face as drought and climate change persists as formidable adversaries to our collective well-being. Will it be, he/she with the most resources wins?

A new study confirms what many of us researchers suspected, that a severe drought beginning in 2007 coupled with climate change sparked civil war, migration and the exodus from Syria. The real story behind the story being repressed. Do not believe it? See the Study Abstract here at:

American Meteorological Society, Water Drought, Climate Change and Conflict in Syria: http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/WCAS-D-13-00059.1

Published in the Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences, compiled statistics showing that water shortages in the Fertile Crescent in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey killed livestock, drove up food prices, sickened children, and forced 1.5 million rural residents to the outskirts of Syria's jam-packed cities—just as that country was exploding with immigrants from the Iraq war.

Can it Happen in our own Backyards?

In Alberta this year, wildfires burned due to dry conditions and several counties declared states of agricultural emergency. In Saskatchewan, crop insurance rules are being loosened to help out while strict water restrictions have been imposed in British Columbia. People are asking, what is going on?

What is going on...

According to the last national Canadian Census (2012), western Canada has experienced especially dry winters and drought like conditions since 2012. 2012-13 was the 3rd driest winter on historical record. The picture of western Canada presently is trends of increasingly higher than normal regional temperatures, paired with significantly lower precipitation levels through-out the past three years (See Graphs).

Temperature in Canada has been steadily increasing since 1948 and scientists fear what will occur if we reach the 2'C temperature increase climate scientists are predicting. Snow packs and run off are disappearing at record speeds, especially in the Rocky Mountains, therefore leaving low and dry rivers behind in summer and autumn in B.C, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Prolonged dry conditions, low melt and low precipitation are a recipe for drought. The western United States, which is experiencing severe drought has also experienced high economic and natural losses but what about the effects on human life? Is Canada on her way there, as well?

Increase in Temperature Trend in Canada 1948-2012

Source

Decreases (Brown) Increases (Green) in Precipitation Canada 2012

Source

Producers in Trouble...

Producers are in trouble. In August 2015, the Alberta government declared that the hardship to agriculture from drought constituted a disaster as put forth by Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier. Many counties and municipalities across the province declared emergencies last year. Increasingly severe storms also damaged not only homes and vehicles but valuable food crops. Beef and field farmers are equally feeling the pressure with 40% less rain than last year resulting in less grass and Hay for feed. Hay has since reportedly doubled in price. And in the meantime, it is eerie to drive down streets and see people still luxuriously watering their lawns and washing cars. How many are so oblivious?

The World Economic Forum now identifies Water Scarcity in the top global risks. Resulting resource scarcity should be a given but the likelihood of Interstate Conflict* was listed at the top. Once ground water and rivers are low and dry, the lakes will be mined next. Nestle Corporation once able to drain water near Hope B.C for free, will now be charged $2.25 per litre of water. Other corporations must follow suit with similar restrictions.

Where else did you think your clean bottled water came from besides the pristine rivers and streams in your very own backyard? Corporations pay big money for market researchers to data mine trends in the economy. Your once precious and free natural resources are but highly profitable stock commodities they now sell back to you at marked up rates of well over 1000% for their own capital gains.( I was a market researcher). In fact, everything you purchase from food to clothes to cars actually cost less than 15% of the retail price to manufacture. The rest is wholesaler to retailer mark up with shipping, duty and miscellaneous taxes included- sales tax on top. Water included.

From coast to coast, private companies are bottling millions of litres of "publicly owned" water, then selling it back to us in chemical-leaching plastic. One may be wiser testing and bottling their own tap or well water in safer containers than the usual PED types. Better yet, drill and test your own water well. ;)

Bottled Water from Your Own Backyard?

The bottled water industry boom began in the early 1980s with significant growth since

Canadian bottled water production can be estimated to be approximately 2.29 billion litres

Most productions use the ozonation method which leaves no chemical residual aftertaste or odour to treated water

Measured by (hectolitres), sales of bottled water accounted to 10.6% of non-alcoholic beverages

Canadian market for the Soft Drink & Ice Manufacturing Industry totalled $4,499.2 million in 2009, an increase of 56.5% over 1999

The top three export markets for Canadian bottled water were the U.S. (61.3%), Japan (25.3%), and Taiwan (8.4%)

Please Do Note*: Data from Statistics Canada on investment in the bottled water industry is not available

Statistics Canada

Did you know?

Environmentalists are concerned about the extraction of water from lakes, streams and wells for shipment elsewhere. They feel that over the long term, extraction from these sources may reduce the water table in the vicinity.

Water Stress by Country 2040

Source

Alberta 'Licensed' Water Allocations 2009 Year by Volume

48% Agriculture Irrigation

24% Commercial Cooling

11% Municipal Use

5.9% Industrial Commercial Use

5.7% Industrial Commercial Oil & Gas Use

3.6% Water Management Purposes

1.6% Industrial Injection Purposes

*Percentages derived from licensed activities only. No tracking for unlicensed activities

Facts About About Water in Alberta: http://environment.gov.ab.ca/info/library/6364.pdf

North American Drought Monitor- January 18, 2016 Release

The North America Drought Monitor (NADM) is a cooperative effort between drought experts in Canada, Mexico and the United States to monitor drought across the continent on an ongoing basis.
The North America Drought Monitor (NADM) is a cooperative effort between drought experts in Canada, Mexico and the United States to monitor drought across the continent on an ongoing basis. | Source

What are People Facing?

If producers are in trouble, you can be sure that people are in 'hot water' as well. There is only now a shedding of light on how the Syrian water crisis has spawned resource wars in the Middle East resulting in mass migration and exodus. If western Canada does not heed these warnings, it should be realized people will also experience conflict over resources and may indeed relocate. In the future, it won't be about diamonds, silver and gold...it will be about whom has the most resources wins.

There are many Conservation Plans to ration corporations, farmers and people of their water addictions but to widely publicize them would mean admitting there is a pressing issue. According to Environment Canada, the average Canadian uses 251 litres of water a day. Canadians are the fourth-largest consumers of freshwater from 28 countries studied in 2013. Municipalities and Counties should be forthcoming about the data and these issues so everyone may prepare- not simply the producers. Where will the producer profits be without healthy stable consumers?

The problem with the graph above... is water stress in western Canada is presently in the yellow or medium stressed indicator area due to current and persistent drought. Realize the forecast in this graph is for the year 2040. Now in 2016, there is an onset of an El Nino and another warm winter with low precipitation and low glacier run off to ground water, streams and rivers. It clearly means another year of drought. We are not able to tie any single weather event or short trend to the effects of climate change, but one can be certain in following long-term trends, that climate change is a definite factor and will cause future droughts.


Did You Know?

Albertans living adjacent to a water body or above a source of groundwater have the statutory right to use up to 1250 m3 of water per year for human consumption, sanitation, and other smaller household uses. Water testing is recommended.

What happens next?

The advanced five year California drought situation offers Canadians a somber snap shot of what may come. Canada, however, is now in year three of drought conditions. What will it look like in year five here in western Canada?

Thieves are on the rise and water thieves to boot in the thirsty state of California. Drought and recession are driving the prices of food slightly higher but water imports are up. Water Task Forces empowered by the state are on the streets protecting property owners' water with fines up to $500. Ground water and water transfers are barely keeping the state afloat. Californians are also ripping up their lawns and installing efficiency toilets and some relocating. U.S. Department of Agriculture meteorologist Brad Rippey stated, “At [the current] usage rate, California has less than two years of water remaining.” Similarly, water supplies are under threat in three other states, with reservoir levels at two-thirds capacity in Arizona, just over half in New Mexico, and about one-third capacity in Nevada.

As if western Canadians are not being hit by enough tough economic times...add a water crisis? In Canada, due to ongoing recession, a failing dollar value, dropping oil prices and higher costs of transportation due to distances, food prices are also increasing. For the fourth year in a row, the increase in food prices are expected to outpace inflation next year.The rise will cost the average Canadian household an additional $345 in 2016.

Persisting economic recession has seen higher crime rates reports police in Alberta. In the first 10 months of 2015, commercial break-ins almost doubled from a year earlier, bank robberies were up 65 percent and home invasions increased 52 percent, Calgary Police Service data show. Desperate people take desperate measures. What happens when water scarcity is added to this equation?

Last year, British Columbia created their own Water Sustainability Act in light of drought conditions and to prevent a California destiny. Alberta has a Water Act but no sustainability laws on water... yet. The Alberta Provincial Government says they are "keeping an eye on things". What will they do next?

More importantly... what will you do?

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    • Claudine Fleury profile image
      Author

      Claudine Gaia Fleury 17 months ago from Alberta, Canada

      Thanks for your comments Alexis, I attempt to inform on issues where there is a lack of insight or perspective from the local media. These issues are disturbing but I fully believe Albertans deserve the truth of these matters.

    • Alexis Cogwell profile image

      Ashley Cogdill 17 months ago from Indiana/Chicagoland

      This was... terrifying, but informative. Love your hubs so far. :)

    • Claudine Fleury profile image
      Author

      Claudine Gaia Fleury 19 months ago from Alberta, Canada

      Happy to be informative. You are welcome.

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      moviestarplanet 19 months ago

      thanks fr sharing!