With more than 30 years’ experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Mark Nelson is a Class 1 Drinking-Water Operator and a CBWA (Canadian Bottled Water Association) Certified Plant Operator. As founder and president of Nelson Water in Ottawa, Mark focuses on dealing with challenging water treatment system designs for problem water. He also heads the largest water bottling plant in the city of Ottawa with a delivery network throughout the Valley.

The Earth’s surface is covered with around 70% water and yet freshwater only accounts for 1% of the water on the entire planet. This paltry 1% of fresh water is all that we have for consumption and Canada has plenty of that volume of water. A simple walk in nature will reveal the many streams, lakes, rivers and waterfalls that seem to be almost everywhere, But, there are concerns about water security for the future due to a growing population and the increases in activity to support those people. The climate is changing and we tend to use twice as much water as a typical European person! In this article, we will take a look at seven surprising facts about Canada and our water that you may not know.

1.  The Primary Sources of Canadian Water

Approximately 66% of Canadian drinking water comes from groundwater sources, such as: rivers, lakes and reservoirs. The largest model by far are the Great Lakes. These five huge interconnected lakes span almost the entire width of the North American continent. In fact, these lakes are the largest surface areas of freshwater found in a single location anywhere on our planet. But, what many people don’t know is the important contribution that our extensive forests make to our water supply reserves.

2.  The Importance of Evapotranspiration

This is a procedure where water is drawn from the forest floor. It evaporates from moisture on the ground and in the trees and then up to the air. Some of the water doesn’t reach the air and this excess volume flows into surface waterways or it seeps into groundwater. This extra source of water is extremely clean and free from contamination. This is another good reason to be concerned about potential threats to our forests. It may be the case that the health and coverage of our forests is directly connected to our future water requirements.

3.  The Volume of Canadian Freshwater

Canada is one of the top nations in terms of access to an internal renewable source of freshwater. When we mention renewable, we are referring to the combination of groundwater and precipitation that consistently renews those water supplies. Only a few nations in the world have greater water resources in relation to their populations, they are: Iceland, Guyana, Bhutan, Suriname, Greenland and Papua New Guinea. Canada has an impressive 80,423 cubic meters per capita and approximately 891,163 sq km or 9% of the nation is covered with freshwater. But, this isn’t the whole picture. If the freshwater currently trapped in underground lakes and glaciers was released, we would have around 20% of the Earth’s freshwater in Canada.

4.  Water Consumption Levels in Canada

Approximately 335L are consumed by Canadians every day which equates to 670 standard (500ml) bottles of water. As we mentioned in the introduction, this is around twice as much as a European and ten times more than a person living in rural regions in Africa. From this volume, drinking and cooking make up less than 10% of overall consumption. Bathing consumes 35%, cleaning and laundry 25% and toilet flushing alone is almost a third of our water consumption. In the late 90s, Canadians as a whole consumed approximately 7.9 billion liters per day which could fill the SkyDome five times over. In the following decade, water was charged by volume and this decreased the volume to a certain degree. When Canadians were charged for the volume of water consumed, they used around 70% less than people that paid a flat fee.

5.  The Responsibility for the Supply of Canadian Freshwater

Both the local and federal governments are responsible for the supply of fresh water in Canada. The federal government has final authority on international aspects of water access, the implications for fishing, and various routes that the water takes. But, the Canadian provinces have the task of the day to day management of the water licenses and the enforcement of laws. Canada actually imparts access to certain waterways for the use of the United States, especially the Great Lakes. The administration is governed by a non-partisan third party such as the International Joint Commission (IJC). Another key group is The Canada Water Agency which was formed by the federal government to consolidate the efforts of provinces, indigenous communities, local authorities, and research bodies. The goal is to better coordinate the efficient use and preservation of Canada’s freshwater supplies.

6.  Canadian Water Conservation Efforts

Water management became a key issue from the early 90s onwards and a prime example would be the plumbing codes introduced by Ontario in 1993. The province changed the codes to conserve water by adding high-efficiency faucets, toilets, and showerheads. Now it’s estimated that approximately 15% of homes use low-flush toilets and 42%  use low-flow showerheads. Most Canadian bodies have adopted a water using ethos known as the three R’s, they are: replace aging fixtures, repair water leaks and reduce water consumption. The idea is that freshwater in Canada naturally recycles itself and that the primary aim should be to make better use of the water we have.

7.  Simple Water Conservation Techniques

In Canada and other places in the world, there are proven water conservation techniques that we can use every day. First, we can upgrade our showerheads and faucets with an aerator and turn off the water when we brush our teeth. When we use our dishwasher and washing machines it’s important to fill them and avoid inefficient half loads. We can use a broom to sweep our driveways clean and avoid using a garden hose. When we water our gardens the best time is early in the morning to avoid water loss caused by evaporation when the sun shines hotter. Checking our homes for hidden water leaks and installing a low-flow toilet will save a lot of water each day. If we reduce our shower times by a couple of minutes we can save around 2,500L of water every month.

If you want to improve the quality of your water, contact your local water treatment specialist today.