Water Availability in Canada

In 2009, there was a high threat to water availability in portions of southern Ontario, southern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, southwestern Manitoba, and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. A high threat to water availability means that more than 40% of the water in rivers was withdrawn for human use. The threat was moderate to medium in portions of southern Alberta and southwestern Manitoba, where between 10 and 40% of water in rivers was withdrawn for human use. The threat to water availability was low across the rest of Canada, as less than 10% of water in rivers in those areas was withdrawn for human use.

Threats to water availability in Canada, 2009


Long description

The map shows the threat level to water availability in each of Canada's 164 sub-drainage areas in 2009.

Data for this chart
Threats to water availability in Canada, 2009
Sub-drainage area groupingsSub-drainage area namesThreat to water availability
10N-10O-10P-10Q-10R-10S-10T-10U-10VMerged (Southern Beaufort Sea, Amundsen Gulf, Coppermine, Coronation Gulf and Queen Maud Gulf, Back, Gulf of Boothia, Southern Arctic Islands, Baffin Island, Arctic drainage, Northern Arctic Islands)Data not available
07L-07M-07N-07O-07P-07Q-07R-07S-07T-07U-10A-10B-10C-10D-10E-10F-10G-10H-10J-10K-10L-10MMerged (Fond-du-Lac, Lake Athabasca - shores, Slave, Hay, Southern Great Slave Lake, Great Slave Lake - east arm - south shore, Lockhart, Northeastern Great Slave Lake, Marian, Western Great Slave Lake, Upper Liard, Central Liard, Fort Nelson, Central Liard and Petitot, Lower Liard, Upper Mackenzie - Mills Lake, Upper Mackenzie - Camsell Bend, Central Mackenzie - Blackwater Lake, Great Bear, Central Mackenzie - The Ramparts, Lower Mackenzie, Peel and Southwestern Beaufort Sea)Low
04A-04B-04C-04D-04E-04F-04G-04H-04J-04K-04L-04MMerged (Hayes - Manitoba, Southwestern Hudson Bay, Severn, Winisk - coast, Ekwan - coast, Attawapiskat - coast, Upper Albany, Lower Albany - coast, Kenogami, Moose - Ontario, Missinaibi-Mattagami, Abitibi)Low
03A-03B-03C-03D-03E-03F-03G-03H-03J-03K-03L-03M-04NMerged (Nottaway - coast, Broadback and Rupert, Eastmain, La Grande - coast, Grande rivière de la Baleine - coast, Eastern Hudson Bay, Northeastern Hudson Bay, Western Ungava Bay, Aux Feuilles - coast, Koksoak, Caniapiscau, Eastern Ungava Bay, Harricanaw - coast)Data not available
02S-02T-02U-02V-02W-02XMerged (Betsiamites - coast, Manicouagan and aux Outardes, Moisie and St. Lawrence Estuary, Gulf of St. Lawrence - Romaine, Gulf of St. Lawrence - Natashquan, Petit Mécatina and Strait of Belle Isle)Low
08NMOkanaganFootnote [A]High
06G-06H-06J-06K-06L-06M-06N-06O-06P-06Q-06R-06S-06TMerged (Seal - coast, Western Hudson Bay - southern, Thelon, Dubawnt, Kazan, Chesterfield Inlet, Western Hudson Bay - central, Western Hudson Bay - northern, Hudson Bay - Southampton Island, Foxe Basin - Southampton Island, Foxe Basin - Melville Peninsula, Foxe Basin - Baffin Island, Hudson Strait - Baffin and Southampton Islands)Low
09A-09B-09C-09D-09E-09F-09H-09MMerged (Headwaters Yukon, Pelly, Upper Yukon, Stewart, Central Yukon, Porcupine, Tanana, Copper)Low
08A-08B-08C-08D-08E-08OMerged (Alsek, Northern coastal waters of British Columbia, Stikine - coast, Nass - coast, Skeena - coast, Queen Charlotte Islands)Low
06A-06B-06C-06D-06E-06FMerged (Beaver - Alberta and Saskatchewan, Upper Churchill - Manitoba, Central Churchill - upper - Manitoba, Reindeer, Central Churchill - lower - Manitoba, Lower Churchill - Manitoba)Low
03N-03O-03P-03QMerged (Northern Labrador, Churchill - Newfoundland and Labrador, Central Labrador, Southern Labrador)Low
07KLower PeaceLow
07EWilliston LakeLow
07FUpper PeaceLow
07HCentral Peace, upperLow
07JCentral Peace, lowerLow
07DLower AthabascaLow
08FCentral coastal waters of British ColumbiaLow
07CCentral Athabasca, lowerLow
08KUpper FraserLow
07AUpper AthabascaLow
02YNorthern NewfoundlandLow
07BCentral Athabasca, upperLow
05TGrass and BurntwoodLow
05ECentral North SaskatchewanLow
02ZSouthern NewfoundlandLow
05DUpper North SaskatchewanLow
05GLower North SaskatchewanLow
08GSouthern coastal waters of British ColumbiaLow
08MLower FraserLow
08HVancouver IslandLow
05CRed DeerMedium
01FCape Breton IslandLow
02QNorthern Gaspé PeninsulaLow
01CPrince Edward IslandLow
05REastern Lake WinnipegLow
05HLower South SaskatchewanLow
05LLake Winnipegosis and Lake ManitobaLow
05AUpper South SaskatchewanMedium
05SWestern Lake WinnipegLow
01BGulf of St. Lawrence and Northern Bay of Fundy, New BrunswickLow
02PLower St. LawrenceLow
01ASaint John and Southern Bay of Fundy, New BrunswickLow
01DBay of Fundy and Gulf of St. Lawrence, Nova ScotiaLow
02JUpper OttawaLow
01ESoutheastern Atlantic Ocean, Nova ScotiaLow
02ANorthwestern Lake SuperiorLow
02OCentral St. LawrenceLow
02LLower OttawaLow
02KCentral OttawaLow
02BNortheastern Lake SuperiorLow
02DWanipitai and French, OntarioLow
02CNorthern Lake HuronLow
02MUpper St. LawrenceLow
02EEastern Georgian BayLow
02FEastern Lake HuronHigh
02HLake Ontario and Niagara PeninsulaHigh
02GNorthern Lake ErieMedium

Note: The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) Water Availability Indicator aggregates sub-drainage areas, as defined by the Standard Drainage Area Classification developed by Statistics Canada, into the following 76 groupings.

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 5.87 KB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator is calculated by dividing water demand by water supply for each of Canada's 164 sub-drainage areas. The indicator does not include water withdrawn from lakes and groundwater. There are not enough data available to describe water availability in northern Quebec. The method used to calculate the Water Availability Indicator does not apply to northern Canada.
Source: Environment Canada (2012) Water Survey of Canada. Environment Canada (2011) Municipal Water and Wastewater Survey 2009. Statistics Canada (2012) Industrial Water Use Survey 2009. Statistics Canada (2011) Agricultural Water Use Survey 2010.

Having a safe and reliable freshwater supply is important to maintaining human, plant and animal populations; supporting economic development; and preserving healthy lakes and rivers. While Canada is a water-rich country, human pressure on the water supply is not necessarily applied in areas where water is abundant. For example, approximately 85% of Canadians live within 300 kilometres of the Canada-United States border, while 60% of Canada's freshwater flows north into the Arctic Ocean.Footnote [1] Water availability is an estimate of how human activity is changing the water supply. It indicates where water may become scarce in the future, especially in areas where water supplies are naturally low. Together, urban growth, expanding industrial activity, increasing food production by farms and changing weather patterns are placing increasing pressure on Canada's freshwater supply.

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