It's Not As Simple As H2O

by J.B Moffatt on November 24, 2016 - 7:22pm

An article by Keith Leslie published in the Globe and Mail describes a major issue directly affecting the Guelph area; water use. This article digs deeply to prove that Ontario’s efforts to manage water use for both industry and agriculture is insufficient. It is described as municipalities, industry, and farmers have a so called “free ride” when it comes to water use. The biggest state actor in this case would be the provincial government as they have the largest authority to govern water use; provincial government also can overrule municipalities on many decisions depending on the possible outcomes. One of the issues faced with more governance of water is if the provincial government passed on a fee to municipalities, this fee would be passed onto the taxpayers if implemented.

In my opinion, Ontario as a whole should be quite concerned with how it is using water resources. Many extreme examples can be found which are quite current on the topic of water use. Recently as many know California has struggled to provide adequate water to support many of their crops. An article published by ProPublica (2015) outlines the issue with California is many of the plant species require extreme amounts of water; therefore, when faced with multiple years of drought, water shortages appear and become devastating to the whole system. The greater Guelph area is not comparable to California as climates and physical geography differ greatly, but it is a good reminder of the severity that can be faced if such resources are not managed properly.

Water management must remain in the control of government or state actors, as privatization will destroy the proper use and distribution of water. This can be highlighted in Guelph by the actions of Nestle as they are extracting water for much similar to the price outlined in this article of $3.14/million litres. Is this right for the economic gains? Is this right for the members of the community? Without government intervention economic gains will outweigh the environmental issue that arise.

So, where do we go from here? Adaptive management approaches should be viewed as water availability is very variable. Available water amounts are variable over seasons and years depending on weather systems; therefore, there is a great need for a system that is able to work with variability. By using an adaptive management approach, the economic benefits can still be gained by the industry and the agricultural society. As environment manager Glen Murry alludes to in the article, adding water taxes on top of all the other pollution tax can’t just be done, it’s not that simple. When looking at the agricultural perspective, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture has brought up that many farmers are working with new technologies to reduce water use. There is an attempt to reduce consumption, so that must be taken into account when policy is being made.

To conclude, a quote from text written by de Loe presented in a GEOG 3210 lecture outlines the reality of this article by stating, “Governments are – and will continue to be –dominant actors in water governance in countries such as Canada because only the nation-state has the authority, legitimacy, and resources to coordinate actions across society.”

Just my thoughts.

Supplementing content - info on California drought - water management - adaptive management



What drew me to your post was the title. It caught my eye and once I read it I wanted to read more on what you were going to talk about. I think that you did a great job on summarizing the article to provide the main points. I like how you decided to talk about Guelph because it was interesting to learn about a place that you have a connection to. I also think that you did an amazing job on integrating the course material into your post! Overall, great post!