Excerpt from Cool Companies www.coolcompanies.ca By Claudia Sammer
Protecting our water is a priority. A person can survive about a month without food, but only a few days without water. All life depends on water. While 70% of the Earth is covered with water, the amount of fresh water is only 2.5%—a very small amount—thus making it a limited resource.
With 20% of the world’s total freshwater located in Canada, it is easy for Canadians to take water for granted. However, more than half of Canada’s water drains northward into Hudson Bay and the Arctic Ocean, which means less than 10% of the water is accessible to 85% of the Canadian population that lives in southern Canada (Environment Canada). Climate change may make the availability of water an even more pressing issue.
It is not just water conservation that’s a concern; the quality of our water is under constant pressure from contamination. Interestingly, wetlands play an important role in improving the quality and quantity of water. No longer viewed as wastelands, people have started to understand that wetlands are a valuable habitat for wildlife, filter impurities in water, recharge groundwater supplies and reduce the effects of droughts and flooding. Wetlands also affect the air by adding oxygen and removing CO2 and put it into soil.
While 21% of Alberta is covered by wetlands (www.wetlandsalberta.ca), Alberta has already lost about 64% of its wetlands (Institute of Wetlands and Waterfowl Research). Alberta has realized the importance of protecting its water and the need for everyone to share in the responsibility for its wise use. It has established the Alberta Water Research Institute (p. 67) to support this effort. Alberta WaterSmart (p. 67) is involved in the Oil Sands Leadership Initiative that will develop innovative approaches to water management in the oil sands.
Sustainable use of our water resources is essential. In Alberta, the emphasis is not just about treating the water at the end, it is also about ensuring that water quality and quantity is sustained before it runs through a treatment plant. The companies profiled in this chapter are rising to the challenge and innovation is the key.
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Alberta Water Research Institute
The Alberta Water Research Institute (part of Alberta Innovates Energy & Environment Solutions (p.23, 74)) is a virtual institute focused on applied research related to outcomes that improve water practices, management and policy. Its goals are the the same as Alberta’s Water for Life strategy: safe, secure drinking water; healthy aquatic ecosystems; and reliable, quality water supplies for a sustainable economy.
Contact: www.waterinstitute.ca, 780.638.3782
Alberta Water Smart
Alberta WaterSMART is a not-for-profit company that works with organizations on a fee-for-services basis to develop and improve the management of Alberta’s water resources. It is involved with the Oil Sands Leadership Initiative developing innovative approaches to water management in the oil sands, as well as working with the Bow River Collaborative on new ways to manage the Bow River and other major rivers in Alberta. It also provides facts and news related to water through www.albertawater.com.
Contact: www.albertawatersmart.com, Kim Sturgess, CEO, 403.210.5278