In France, the Loire is dry. In London, the lawn of Hyde Park is yellow and dry as hay. In Romania, water is rationed. In Italy, a state of emergency has been declared.
“Let’s wake up,” recently launched Gavin Newsom, governor of California, a state that has been battling drought for 20 years. It is estimated that 10% of its water reserves will be gone by 2040. Even countries that have never experienced water scarcity must now adapt to increasingly long and frequent periods of drought.
And with us?
With our thousands of lakes, rivers and majestic river, we can hardly imagine running out of water one day. And yet…
A report on the impact of climate change in the country sets the record straight: our water reserves are not bottomless. In For this study, researchers from the Ouranos climatology consortium devote an entire section to the issue of water. We learn that Quebec is also vulnerable1.
Quebec’s lakes and rivers, as well as the St. Lawrence River, will be affected by climate change, which will alter water levels, flood risks, and water availability and quality.
Excerpt from the Ouranos consortium study
In fact, water shortages have already started in the province.
Last spring, The Press reported the problems of certain towns in the Eastern Townships, such as Sutton and Bolton-Ouest, where access to drinking water was problematic2.
These cities send us a message: it is high time to review our water consumption habits. And to better protect our reserves.
Will watering golf courses be permitted for a long time? In France, this question is debated. Will municipalities that fear for access to water have to prohibit the construction of in-ground pools and other aquatic equipment that consumes a lot of water? The question is valid.
What once seemed trivial to us has become problematic. The water that we let flow without counting should be considered as a rare and precious good that must be consumed with discernment.
Several municipalities already strictly regulate watering and water consumption: watering asphalt and brick surfaces is prohibited (the days of watering your asphalt on hot days are over), watering lawns only allowed a few hours a week, etc. . Some cities also offer incentives for the purchase of a low-flow toilet or distribute barrels to collect rainwater.
These are gestures that can make a difference.
But the real difference is the Minister of the Environment who can make it.
The action plan that accompanies the Québec Water Strategy expires in 2023. The next one will have to have more bite.
First, we must speed up the maintenance of our infrastructures. In 2021, the City of Montreal rehabilitated 25 km of drinking water pipes and 55 km of sewer pipes. The previous year, it was estimated that 361 million liters of water per day were lost, because our aging water distribution system has more holes than a Gruyere cheese. You have to work hard to win this race against time.
We must also tackle the issue of the sale of our water to multinationals who bottle it to resell it to us. At present, it is impossible to know the quantities of water pumped from Quebec reserves. “Commercial secret”, ruled the Court of Quebec last April. In June, however, the National Assembly unanimously passed a motion recognizing that “sustainable water management is based on transparency”. Elected officials have undertaken to study the possibility of modifying the legal framework in order to make public information on water pumping in Quebec. These changes are necessary.
We will have to push the reflection further and ask ourselves why we would let multinationals draw billions of liters of water from our reserves. This discussion must take place in the public square, not behind closed doors.
We also need to better protect our wetlands, because they have an impact on the quantity of water available. “They protect us from floods and drought,” recalls the lead author of the study, Angelica Alberti-Dufort, of the Ouranos consortium. They are the apple of our eye. »
Last spring, another study conducted by researcher Jérôme Dupras revealed that a majority of respondents wanted more protection for wetlands. In addition, 93% said they were concerned about the quality of drinking water3.
In light of these new studies, let’s hope that the issue of water will be debated seriously during the next election campaign.