Thursday, August 13, 2009

Groups Urge Ontario Water Conservation Strategy

Aug 13: A coalition of water professionals, university think-tanks, environmental and citizen-based groups called on the Ontario government to take immediate and aggressive action on water conservation. The groups released the report of the POLIS Water Sustainability Project entitled, H2Ontario: A Blueprint for a Comprehensive Water Conservation Strategy outlines a strategy for making Ontario world-leaders in cutting wasteful water practices, and urges Ontarians to support development of a world-class action plan. They said the blueprint coincides with the release of a government white paper outlining options for a new water strategy. Peer reviewed by the country’s leading water experts, H2Ontario sets a course for the development of a progressive and pragmatic plan.

Carol Maas, author of the report and Innovation and Technology Director for the POLIS Project said, “We commend the Premier of Ontario for identifying the importance of conserving water. Investing in water efficiency and conservation will protect freshwater ecosystems, foster new innovative industries and save energy all at a fraction of the cost of expanding water infrastructure." Maas also pointed to recent research that identifies water conservation as the next frontier of municipal energy and greenhouse gas emission savings. She indicated that a province-wide increase in water efficiency of 20% over the next 20 years could save enough pumping, treatment and heating energy to power 90% of the homes in the City of Toronto.

As signatories to a key regional agreement, all ten Great Lakes states and provinces have committed to taking action on water conservation, a crucial step to protecting and restoring the Great Lakes. The Blueprint establishes a coherent strategy organized around 10 priority actions and 25 specific recommendations. Priority actions include encouraging the province to: Recognize conservation as the best form of new infrastructure – by requiring water conservation plans and providing infrastructure funds for conservation; Price it right – by encouraging volume based pricing; Support innovation – through pilot programs, education, and incentives for commercialization of new water efficient practices and technologies; and, Promote efficient fixtures – by banning 13 liter toilets and other inefficient fixtures.

The groups noted that the government of Ontario had proposed a white paper, entitled “Stewardship, Leadership, Accountability: Safeguarding and Sustaining Ontario’s Water Resources for Future Generations,” which was posted on the Environmental Registry and is open for public comment until October 4, 2009. The proposal indicates, "Water supports a diverse economy, population and ecosystem in Ontario and the province has a strong history in managing our water in a sustainable way. In the face of current and future stresses to water quantity, such as population growth and climate change, some aspects of water management in Ontario need to be enhanced."

Access a release from the groups listing the supporting organizations (
click here). Access links to the H2Ontario report and an executive summary (click here). Access the POLIS project website for more information (click here). Access the Ontario proposal in the Registry (click here).