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Canada's landmass contains about seven percent of the world's freshwater. Management of our water resources is complex, with responsibility shared among all levels of governments and, for certain bodies of water, with the United States. The cooperative water management relationship between Canada and the U.S. is based upon the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty and largely implemented through the International Joint Commission (IJC). Canada and the U.S. also have a number of other separate agreements that govern water management, such as the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). The GLWQA represents one of the most successful collaborative efforts in addressing water quality concerns between the two countries.

Environment Canada is also involved with the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Global Environment Monitoring System Water Program (GEMS/Water), the primary source for global water quality data. The National Water Research Institute in Burlington, Ontario, hosts the GEMS/Water Program Office and Global Centre on Water Quality and maintains the global database.  To improve water management, countries and organizations need access to relevant information.  GEMS/Water provides evidence-based information on the state and trends of global inland water quality, which supports the identification of emerging global and domestic issues such as water-borne pathogens, persistent organic pollutants, impact of climate change. 

For further information on Environment Canada's activities related to protecting water visit the Water section.

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