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  • A resource worth more attention | Blue Economy Initiative
    and investment in water and wastewater infrastructure The City of Kingston has made progress in avoiding combined sewer overflows CSOs through gradual sewer upgrades and its downspout disconnection program however this recent algal bloom is evidence that more needs to be done First enforcing proper buffer zones and regulating the content and use of fertilizers can greatly reduce the level of nutrients these algal blooms rely on to survive Second there is a host of innovative and cost effective ways to reduce the likelihood of sewage overflows after heavy rainfall events an issue that plagues many of Canada s older cities Traditionally cities have preferred 20th century hard infrastructure solutions to these problems such as constructing large underground storage tanks and tunnels to capture the storm water at great expense Progressive cities are now using more modern solutions to address problems at their source by enhancing ecosystems within urban areas to naturally regulate storm events Examples of the types of investments Kingston could make in this new green infrastructure include green rooftops rain gardens permeable pavement human made wetlands that filter pollutants and absorb phosphorus and nitrogen and bioswales a landscaping method that filters sediment and other pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus from surface runoff before it reaches local sewers and waterways One development critical to Kingston s future is the connection between water conservation and water quality a connection clearly evident in managing heavy rainfall For example avoiding unnecessary overuse of water translates into less burden on local water treatment systems and as a result reduces the chance for sewage overflows Moreover many of the afore mentioned green infrastructure solutions also have the effect of conserving water Capturing rainwater to flush toilets and irrigate gardens and parks not only intercepts rain that would otherwise overwhelm storm sewers it also means less water is taken out of the municipal system unnecessarily thus saving taxpayers from paying to treat water that didn t need to go down the drain in the first place Instead of regarding rainwater as an inconvenience this new way of thinking treats it as an asset one that can be used for watering gardens and parks flushing toilets and building natural resilience to a changing climate In addition to the many ecological and societal benefits of this approach entrepreneurial businesses are also realizing the substantial benefits of new economic opportunities created by investment in innovative solutions in a range of services and industries such as green rooftops manufacturing cisterns and other techniques for rain collection However it shouldn t just be left to cities to make this transition to a new way of thinking about water The provincial government has an important role to play in supporting and enabling this effort Fortunately there is an Act making its way through the Ontario legislative assembly that could promote these types of innovative approaches to water management Introduced on May 18 2010 by John Gerretsen our local MPP the Ontario Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act Bill 72

    Original URL path: http://blue-economy.ca/opinion/resource-worth-more-attention (2014-10-09)
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  • Water sources do not obey political boundaries | Blue Economy Initiative
    should be commended for responding to Canadians growing concerns about the state of their rivers lakes and swimming holes In a recent Ipsos Reid poll two thirds of Canadians said they believed conditions in Canada s lakes were getting worse The dramatic decline in the health of Lake Winnipeg suggests these concerns are entirely warranted And it is not just Lake Winnipeg that is facing water woes Flowing through our nation s capital the Ottawa River reached its lowest levels in almost a century following an unseasonably dry winter and spring causing cancellations to canoeing competitions and threatening fish and crops Water has receded nearly 30 feet in some areas On the other side of the Ottawa River the City of Gatineau experienced a water shortage in May so severe that the municipality instituted a temporary ban on all outdoor water use including filling swimming pools and even drinking from outdoor taps Residents who disobeyed the ban were heavily fined On the west coast British Columbia is so dry that water bombers are struggling to find enough water to put out hundreds of forest fires Regions such as the Okanagan in B C are facing water crises due to reduced mountain snow pack and rising human consumption As water levels drop the concentration of pollutants in the water increases as does the temperature The sun heats shallower waters more quickly contributing to the growth of toxic algal blooms which are unfortunately not unique to Lake Winnipeg And Ottawa is far too familiar with the issue of raw sewage overflow from aging combined sewer systems closing beaches on occasion after a heavy rainfall Though the city is taking steps to address this the problem is again not unique to Ottawa but is common among many older cities in Canada Yet with

    Original URL path: http://blue-economy.ca/opinion/water-sources-do-not-obey-political-boundaries (2014-10-09)
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  • Understanding the value of our water | Blue Economy Initiative
    by 2020 and global water shortages will drive the need for innovative water technology and efficiency of use It s a huge opportunity and one that this country cannot afford to miss Canada s economic heritage was defined by our waterways The ports of Toronto and Montreal developed and prospered because of the transportation corridors and trade opportunities provided by the largest fresh water system on the planet the Great Lakes St Lawrence River Basin And the transformation of the Prairies into Canada s bread basket was only possible because mountain fed rivers such as the Bow and South Saskatchewan injected life into an otherwise arid land Today fresh water pulses through our economy virtually unnoticed Most Canadians would not think of water as vital to economic security but a scan of major economic sectors shows that in fact it is Energy companies need water to extract and process oil for cooling in thermal power generation and to produce hydropower Farmers require a reliable water supply for agricultural production as does the fishing industry and our rivers and lakes are the backbone of Canada s vibrant tourism and recreation industries We ve built water pipelines specifically for car plants huge quantities of water are consumed by the food and beverage industry and it s a critical input in many other goods and services Despite its ubiquity in Canadian economic activity our knowledge of water s contribution to economic productivity is superficial at best The fact we know so little about the way water flows through our economy is a major concern Every day policy makers corporations and individuals make decisions affecting water resources without knowing if their actions are impacting our long term prosperity The costs of water pollution or overuse are rarely factored into these decisions costs economists politely term externalities So we need to improve our understanding of the nexus between fresh water and our economy in three key areas First we need to detail the contribution of water to Canada s economy and assess the economic benefits of protecting and conserving our rivers and lakes The Brookings Institute a US think tank showed that investing 26 billion in restoring Great Lakes ecosystems would create economic benefits in excess of 50 billion Following an assessment of ecological goods and services of the upstream watershed New York City realized it could spend 507 million working with upstream stakeholders to improve watershed protection and save the 8 billion that would have been needed for a new treatment plant to provide the same water quality There are few equivalent studies in Canada although a new federal framework to evaluate the economic value of nature will hopefully begin to change that Second we need to better understand the risks associated with mismanaging this precious resource The costs of drought in 2001 2002 amounted to 3 billion making it one of Canada s largest natural disasters In a changing climate prolonged droughts and intense floods will increase in frequency Climate projections show that

    Original URL path: http://blue-economy.ca/opinion/understanding-value-our-water (2014-10-09)
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  • Albertans have lost interest in public dialogue about water | Blue Economy Initiative
    culture in Alberta being conducted by Halter She has forwarded several recommendations to the Alberta Institute for Agriculture Forestry and the Environment which was established by the government in 2008 to deal with increasing pressure on the province s natural resources Water comes out of our taps every day but beyond that we don t tend to think much about it One of the most complex questions is how to determine economic policies around distribution of water and linked to that is the level of knowledge people have about water issues As part of the project Halter gathered public input to gauge economic policies for improving the quality and quantity of water and to address ongoing issues such as sale of water protection for sensitive riverbank areas pollution from upstream urban areas industries and agricultural runoff and making regulatory policy more effective for everyone who shares the water communities industries and government For her study Halter focused on the Battle River Watershed in Alberta an area that has struggled with drought since 2000 The watershed is a large area of landcovering most of east central Alberta that drains into the Battle River The area covers approximately 30 000 square kilometres 83 per cent in Alberta the remainder in Saskatchewan Between April of 2009 and April of 2010 Halter conducted interviews in the Battle River area with elected officials business owners municipal workers farmers and others with specific personal or professional interests in water management Besides a lack of faith in past public consultation processes the research revealed other concerns about water policy The idea of establishing markets for the sale of water was not supported and even feared The general concern is that water could become too expensive and force small farmers out of the market and discourage new producers

    Original URL path: http://blue-economy.ca/opinion/albertans-have-lost-interest-public-dialogue-about-water (2014-10-09)
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  • Strategic steps for a more competitive water sector lead the way to global opportunities
    stressed world Need however equals opportunity The challenge is for Canada to contribute to water strategies and help the world meet the global water challenge How do we utilize our strengths the excellence of our engineering and technical graduates our proven academic research capabilities and our innovative companies that can deliver water goods and services to build up a strong water sector to generate new jobs and competitive companies while helping to meet the overarching global challenge Steps for a world water strategy First Canadians need to raise the level of understanding not only among policymakers but also among the wider public that there is an enormous challenge facing the world and that there is also a significant opportunity for Canada by strengthening our research base and the strength of our companies This is the first great challenge to identify our water champions who will provide the leadership to make Canada a water solutions country These champions must come not only from academia and our clean water companies but also from the user community our municipalities and businesses that need a safe and reliable water supply Water users have a significant stake in a solutions strategy There is the risk of complacency due to a widespread public assumption that Canada s abundant water supply means we don t face water challenges Yet Canada itself faces challenges to improve water quality and sanitation performance meet the threats of droughts and floods in agricultural lands ensure the efficient and sustainable use of water in energy and mining industries meet the water needs of First Nations and improve water efficiency and conservation technologies and practices in the economy and society Meeting domestic challenges through innovative solutions will strengthen the research base and the capabilities and competitiveness of Canadian water companies This means efforts to balance federal and provincial budgets must not come at the expense of research or improvements in water infrastructure Cutting these investments would mean a weaker future Canadian economy Research and infrastructure spending are investments in a more secure and sustainable future Ensuring water quality standards stretch water users including municipal water and wastewater systems and water intensive industries to meet world leading standards is another effective way to drive innovation and develop new skills Leading edge water quality and efficiency standards and full cost pricing would create a market for innovative water solutions It is important that the water user community be an early adopter of new technologies and practices Major engineering companies can play a big role providing opportunities to demonstrate and market new technologies Another challenge needs to be addressed How do we grow more small companies into mid size or large companies Canada is very successful in starting companies but many water companies are small and remain small They face significant challenges in obtaining the capital needed to develop new products or services pursue new domestic and foreign markets build the management strengths they need for success and scale up so that users and systems integrators

    Original URL path: http://blue-economy.ca/print/194?page=1 (2014-10-09)
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  • The Importance of Water to the U.S. Economy
    U S Economy Released by the Environmental Protection Agency s Office of Water in November 2013 this report seeks to a raise awareness of water in relation to the U S economy and b report on information critical to managing water in a sustainable way within the context of economic growth January 9 2014 For further information and to download this report http water epa gov action importanceofwater index cfm

    Original URL path: http://blue-economy.ca/print/204?page=1 (2014-10-09)
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  • Clueless but contented: Canadians and water
    We cover a range of water issues in the poll and ask about shameful water behaviours like Who takes the longest showers What water wasting behaviours are the most irritating Who is most embarrassed to order tap water in restaurants How many people take an extra long shower just to relax The answers young people 18 34 when people water down their driveway in the summer young Torontonians and 21 of all Canadians Love that driveway Some of the questions in our poll might look oddball on the surface but our more serious ones actually expose some deeper rooted misconceptions about water in Canada For example one of the biggest sources of water pollution in urbanized areas is when storm water runs off hard impermeable surfaces like roads parking lots buildings and driveways Turns out that almost half of Canadians prefer a paved impermeable driveway rather than grass or permeable paving stones This makes sense in Canada I suppose given it s probably easier to shovel snow from an evenly paved surface than from cobble stones I live in a condo so what do I know But even after hearing that permeable surfaces reduce the negative implications of storm water runoff 53 of the paved driveway lovers said they wouldn t part with their pavement That number increases significantly among men over 55 go figure Municipal Infrastructure We hope our annual poll provides useful information to those who are responsible for maintaining our municipal water systems and incidentally 84 of Canadians think their municipality is doing a good job of providing good quality water Here s a finding that surprised us A whopping 78 of Canadians think that their local water infrastructure is in good condition needing only minor investment for upkeep That may not be a surprising statistic but it s a real head scratcher when you consider that four out of ten 42 confess that they re actually not very aware of the condition of the water and sewage infrastructure serving their home So what exactly are they basing their opinions on one has to wonder And given this how hard will it be for municipalities to defend and pay for the estimated 80 billion required to replace drinking water wastewater and storm water infrastructure that s been identified by municipalities themselves as less than good For more on this visit Canada as the Water Solutions Country Defining the Opportunities 2 In many municipalities water distribution and sewage pipes can be up to 80 years old and have already reached the end of their service life Yet investments in water infrastructure maintenance are chronically underfunded and often deferred even in the best of economic times falling victim to the no new taxes environment that is so much a part of today s political landscape Cost of water Our study also showed that Canadians at least those on municipal water systems don t really have a sense of the true value of water This is no surprise Of the

    Original URL path: http://blue-economy.ca/print/195?page=1 (2014-10-09)
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  • How Blue is Your Bottom Line?
    This panel is part of a two day workshop How Blue is Your Bottom Line to take place on September 18 19th 2012 The course is hosted by the University of Toronto s School of the Environment in partnership with Water Canada Magazine and Tangerine Tango with support from Corporate Knights and GTAA Partners in Project Green Click here for workshop agenda 1 Description Growing water demand is a critical business security and environmental issue Increased energy production consumes significant amounts of a most precious resource In turn the provision of water consumes more energy a perpetual cycle of costs that can be controlled by changing the direction of your business When businesses policy makers and influencers make wiser longer term decisions about their interaction with water the problem of water scarcity can be turned into water opportunities In this two day course at the University of Toronto you will learn how water affects your business bottom line and how the business risks can be mitigated You will be provided with tools to develop opportunities associated with water scarcity and learn how to build a proactive and engaging water strategy for your organization Corporate leaders policy makers and public works

    Original URL path: http://blue-economy.ca/print/155?page=1 (2014-10-09)
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