Fresh Water

Water pollution has reached even the most remote areas of the globe. Contaminants have been found in water from northern Canada to Antarctica.


Years of neglect and abuse have led to degraded water quality in lakes, streams and groundwater around the world. Aquatic ecosystems chronically have been treated as open sewers. Nutrient pollution, toxic contamination, acid rain and other stressors have damaged ecosystems. Without protection, the situation will continue to deteriorate and essential supplies of fresh water will be lost, wild species will disappear with their natural habitat and human habitation will not be possible.


A serious lack of water plagues much of the world’s population and water scarcity is only expected to worsen. About one-fifth of the world’s people don’t have clean water to drink. Almost one-half don’t have access to proper sanitation. Lack of access to safe drinking water has taken a terrible human toll. Over 250 million cases of water-related diseases occur each year and lead to the deaths of 5-10 million people.


Why should we conserve water? 

  • The Canadian Prairies and American Plains, major food production areas, are struggling through a long-term drought.
  • Lower levels of the Great Lakes are affecting shipping and navigation.
  • In some areas of Canada, water is too contaminated to use for drinking Morin agriculture without expensive treatment.
  • By pulling too much water from the ground, and from lakes and streams, we are draining our freshwater ecosystems and causing many problems.
  • By conserving water, we not only protect these ecosystems, but we can save money since treatment of polluted water is costly.

Fast Facts

  • A low flow toilet can cut the amount of water you flush by more than two-thirds.
  • Most of Canada’s fresh water drains north, away from the 84% of Canadians who live within 300km of the American border. Our water supply is limited.
  • So much water is removed from the Nile and Colorado Rivers that they no longer reach the sea for days at a time
  • Each year 12,000 tonnes of phosphorus and 304,000 tonnes of nitrogen are added to Canadian waters causing overgrowth of aquatic plants and killing many aquatic organisms
  • Each year in the U.S. it is estimated that 34 billion litres of dangerous chemicals are released into the ground
  • In the United States there are an estimated 900,000 cases of waterborne illness every year that result in 900 deaths
  • Nitrate contamination and bacteria affect 20-40% of rural wells in Canada
  • In May 2001 there were 250 boil-water orders in Newfoundland and 220 in British Columbia
  • Approximately 1/5 of the world’s people don’t have access to clean drinking water
  • Almost 1/2 of the world’s people don’t have access to basic sanitation
  • More than 250 million cases of water-related diseases occur each year
  • 5-10 million people die each year of water-related diseases
  • Canada has 9% of fresh water in the world and .5% of the world’s population.
  • Canadians use 150 times the amount of water per day required for personal survival
  • Over the last 100 years water consumption grew two times faster than world population and is expected to increase another 40% by 2025.
  • Since 1950,global per capita water supplies have decreased by 58%
  • Sixty percent of illnesses worldwide are water related; water shortages were responsible for 7 million deaths in 2002
  • As much as 50% of the water in piped systems worldwide is lost to leakage


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