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Comprehensive Approach to Clean Water

Canada is home to roughly seven per cent of the globe's renewable freshwater. Water defines our landscape from the Great Lakes, mighty rivers like the St. Lawrence in the east and the Mackenzie in the north-west, and thousands of other waterways at all points in between. It is one of our greatest natural resources.

Cleaning Up Our Lakes and Rivers

The Government of Canada is working hard to clean up polluted and problem waters from coast to coast to coast. Are things getting any better? Click on the thumbnails to learn about the Government's funding investments and water-science work that help clean up, protect and restore our lakes and rivers.

Protecting our Waters

The Government of Canada has a strong, comprehensive approach to ensure clean water for all Canadians and a number of concrete and measurable actions have been taken to implement this approach over the past few years. This approach includes:

  • Managing our vast water resources. To preserve and protect our major watersheds for future generations, the Government of Canada made a series of national announcements under the Action Plan for Clean Water in late 2007 and early 2008. This includes the Oceans Action Plan; the Plan of Action for Drinking Water in First Nations Communities; clean-up funding for water bodies; wastewater regulations; and, water science.
  • Reducing pollution at the source. Pollution Prevention is the most effective means of protecting our environment, and includes regulation of specific industries like metal mines and pulp and paper.
  • Taking action on toxic and other harmful substances. Through the Chemicals Management Plan, regulations are being prepared to limit toxic chemicals such a Bisphenol A (BPA), from getting into Canada's freshwater reserves. As well, Environment Canada has addressed blue-green algae growth in our lakes and rivers by introducing regulations to restrict and reduce the use of phosphates in household cleaning products and laundry and dishwasher detergents.
  • Monitoring water quality. A significant network of specialists collect water quality data, and monitor the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of Canada's watersheds from more than 3,000 sites across Canada.
  • Investing in infrastructure. Through the Building Canada Fund, measures are being taken so that municipalities and First Nations communities all across the nation can properly upgrade wastewater treatment facilities designed to keep our waterways clean and pollution-free.
  • Developing regulations. The Government of Canada worked with provinces and territories, and also engaged municipalities, to finalize these regulations. The new Wastewater System Effluent Regulations set the country's first national standards for sewage treatment.
  • Investing in water research. At the National Water Research Institute, research is being conducted into water-related issues of concern, and generating and sharing scientific knowledge needed to resolve environmental issues of regional, national or international significance to Canada, and to sustain our natural resources and freshwater ecosystems.
  • Making international contributions. Important international contributions are being made through a $2.5-million investment in the United Nations Environment Programme's Global Environment Monitoring System, GEMS/Water. Through that investment, work will help Canadians to better understand inland water quality issues.

The above represent only some examples of how Canada's government is working to protect our water resources. Combined with additional efforts on sustainable water management, in collaboration with provinces and territories, these measures allow us to ensure that all Canadians have access to clean, safe and healthy water; that there is a reliable and secure supply of water; and that our water resources are used wisely, both economically and ecologically.