The amount of water in Voelvlei Dam near Cape Town, one of the region's largest water catchments, is nearing a critical level. PHOTO: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Day Zero for Cape Town water, what about Canada, and elsewhere?

Share

Cape Town in South Africa is edging ever nearer to becoming the world’s first major city to run out of water, literally. This is due to an ongoing multi-year drought.

Other areas around the world are also threatened with potential water shortages, Major drought put Sao Paulo and 21 million people in a very dire situation in 2015,  Other locations around the world have come close to disaster as well, or are facing potentially dire situations in the near future.  Canada with all its water, is not immune.

John Pomeroy (PhD) is a Distinguished Professor in the Department. of Geography & Planning at the University of Saskatchewan and the Canada Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change. He is also Director of the Global Waters Futures Initiative, the Director at the Centre for Hydrology both also at the University and the Coldwater Laboratory in Alberta.

Listen

Pomeroy has been studying the issue of hydrology for decades and in a recent article said “climate warming from human actions is altering precipitation patterns, reducing snow-packs, accelerating glacier melting, thawing permafrost, degrading water quality, intensifying floods and increasing the risk and extent of droughts”.

Hydrologist, professor John Pomeroy, (PhD) climbs an observation tower at a snowpack research station in the Rockies near Fortress Mountain, Alta. Measuring the snowpack helps researchers in their attempts to predict future floods and droughts. PHOTO: Erin Collins -CBC

Indeed the climate patterns mean that some areas are experiencing drought, while others experience sudden floods as conditions become more intense over certain regions and last longer.

Canada is not exempt from the effects of climate change.

He notes that although Canada has vast resources of water, much of that is in more remote regions, and many of the watercourses flow north away from the relatively thin band of heavy population only about 100 kilometres in depth which follows the Canada-US border across the country.

Long periods of hot dry conditions have led to massive forest fires in Canada such as this one in Ft McMurray Alberta in 2016. PHOTO Terry Reith-CBC

Part of Pomeroy’s studies include studying snow packs in the western mountains. In the past the snow and glaciers would melt during summer and continue to feed rivers and streams even in drought years in western Canada. But with warming, when there is a heavy snowfall, it has been melting faster and is gone sooner leaving those water courses dry in drought years.

Glacier melt has helped as well as a “bank” of water, but they’re melting faster than they’re being replenished, and as a resource, could themselves be gone.

He notes even in winters now, there have been periods of rain instead of snow as temperatures climb.  This year there were record warm spells as much as 30 degrees C above normal in the high Arctic for example.

Canadians in many cities have already been faced with water restrictions which were almost unheard of in the past, but are not annual occurrences in summer.

An intense 2015 drought reduced water levels across much of Western Canada, including Lake Diefenbaker, Sask., a source for hydro-electric power and irrigation. PHOTO: John Pomeroy

He is glad the federal government has recently announced funding for better water monitoring in Canada which could lead to national oversight, but notes that Canada still has a disconnect between managing surface water and groundwater.  He says the two are intimately connected yet groundwater extraction oversight is greatly lacking in Canada.

With warming temperatures, less predictable weather conditions, and increasing population demands, Pomeroy and others say Canadians should be aware of what they could be facing in the future when it comes to water usage.

While drought is an increasing problem, massive storms also create havoc such as the record rain which fell on Toronto, paralysing Canada’s biggest city in July 2013. Here firefighters rescue people trapped on a commuter train. Major highways were completely flooded as was the city’s subway system. Record 100-year weather events are now becoming almost common. PHOTO-CBC

Additional information

Share
Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Economy, Environment, International

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*