Frequently Asked Questions – Protecting Water
Q: Why protect water? Answer
Q: What is source water?
A: Source water occurs at higher elevations where rain falls and starts the journey downhill. Additionally, any rivers, streams, lakes or groundwater supplies (aquifers) are considered “source” if they are used for public drinking water or private wells.
Q: How are our water sources threatened?
A: Water sources are threatened by contaminants, natural or man-made; by watershed depletion; urban development, the pavement of which makes it difficult for water to filter into the ground to recharge aquifers; air pollution (vehicles, coal plants, industry and other sources); wetland loss; and by climate change (warming of the earth’s atmosphere may increase evaporation and reduce the amount of water available in surface water courses). Groundwater is also endangered when water is pumped out of the aquifer faster than it can recharge.
Q: How can we best protect sources of water?
A: We can best protect our water sources at the government level by developing and implementing source water protection plans. A source water protection plan is a management strategy designed to minimize the impact that human and natural activities have on the quality and supply of our water resources. Source water protection plans include many components including geophysical information about our watersheds, the identification of sensitive areas where water resource supply and/or quality is threatened, scientific data about the quality and supply of current water resources, up-to-date mapping and computer projections about future water resources, and recommendations to manage the impacts of harmful activities.
Q: Does source water protection take place today?
A: Yes, Conservation Authorities, Municipalities and other agencies already plan and deliver water resource management programs and services throughout many parts of the province. This work needs to expand. The Source Protection initiative will formalize much of the work already underway throughout the province and will provide additional valuable tools and resources for land use and water resource managers.
Q: Don’t we have an unlimited supply of fresh water in Canada?
A: While Canada has about 20% of the world’s total fresh water resources, less than half of this water — about 7% of the global supply — is “renewable”. Most of Canada’s water is fossil water retained in lakes, underground aquifers and glaciers. All of the water we use is “renewed” through a natural water cycle: water falls to the earth as precipitation then infiltrates the soil where it is absorbed by plants. It then moves through the ground in aquifers and is discharged back into streams and lakes. Water is returned to the atmosphere by plants and direct evaporation from surface water.
Q: How many people in Ontario? Canada? The world? A: Answer