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Enhancing water availability

Goal 4: Water availability – Enhance information to ensure that Canadians can manage and use water resources in a manner consistent with the sustainability of the resource.

Progress towards Goal 4: Water quantity (water level indicator and water flow indicator)

Between 2001 and 2010, Canada's rivers typically contained a normal quantity of water.

 

In 2009, water in rivers was withdrawn for human use at a rate of greater than 40% (high threat to water availability) in portions of southern Ontario, southern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, southwestern Manitoba and the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia; between 10% and 40% (moderate to medium threat) in portions of southern Alberta and southwestern Manitoba; and less than 10% (low threat) across the rest of Canada.


Between 2001 and 2010, Canada's rivers typically contained a normal quantity of water. However, as shown in Figure 3.15, there are variations from year to year. In 2010, 16 drainage regions had normal water quantity, 4 had higher-than-normal water quantity, and 1 region showed lower-than-normal water quantity. In 2001, 5 drainage regions experienced lower-than-normal water quantity -- for example, central Canada had less than usual rainfall and snowfall that year. In 2005 -- a particularly wet year in central Canada -- higher-than-normal water quantity was observed in six drainage regions.

Natural changes in temperature, rainfall and snowfall can cause water quantities in rivers, lakes and reservoirs to rise and fall throughout the year. These weather fluctuations can result in flooding or water shortages.

For the most up-to-date information on this indicator, please visit CESI.

Figure 3.15: Water quantity in Canada's drainage regions, 2001 to 2010

Water quantity in Canada's drainage regions, 2001 to 2010

Long description

The graph shows the number of drainage regions in Canada with low, normal and high water quantity, on an annual basis, from 2001 to 2010. Over the last decade, Canada's rivers typically had normal water quantity conditions. In 2010, 16 drainage regions were classified as having normal water quantity. Four had higher-than-normal water quantity; one region had lower-than-normal water quantity.

Progress toward Goal 4: Water availability

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 of British Columbia. In these regions, more than 40% of 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 river water 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.

Together, urban growth, expanding industrial activity, increasing food production by farms and changing weather patterns are placing increasing pressure on Canada's freshwater supply.

Figure 3.16 displays the threats to water availability in Canada in 2009. For the most up-to-date information on this indicator, please visit CESI.

Figure 3.16: Threats to water availability in Canada, 2009

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.

 


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