Water Haller: Climate? A little change or an imminent crisis?
I have to say I’m joining the movement to start calling this situation what it really is: a climate crisis and not just a bothersome change as the deniers prefer to downplay it. I had an old friend drop in at my place last weekend. Not only was she a big fan of Mr. Trump, but argued that climate change is a fake. She’s not alone (one of my own brothers agrees with her) and that denier sentiment is just as strong here in Canada as it is in the USA. I don’t know how after seeing that Ottawa just came out of its second 100-year flood season in 3 years. High water and flood damage is seen across the great lakes and St. Lawrence affecting Toronto and Montreal again. Unbelievable downpours stall over cities exceeding the capacity of most stormwater systems. All legitimate science points towards things getting worse before they get better…IF they can get better.
CWWA is being a very vocal influence in national discussions on this topic. Our Climate Change Committee plays a leading role in a coalition of groups calling for federal action on climate. CWWA is active on two federal working groups looking at flood risks (mapping work group and a financial relief/insurance working group) as well as serving on the Minister’s Advisory Council on Flooding. We make it clear that, while there are a lot of very smart provincial and federal policymakers, scientists, geographers, and financial experts on these working groups, the bulk of the actions and adaptations required will fall to the municipal sector…so they need to include more of us in developing the plans…and think about how we will finance these adaptations. We have the support of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) in these talks and support the FCM funding programs aimed at Climate projects.
But the climate crisis is affecting almost every aspect of our utility operations. In contrast from the obvious stormwater management and urban planning implications, our water resources face an equal threat from water shortages and drought – which makes the work of our Water Efficiency Committee all the more important. This is a concern for our Security Committee and Public Safety Canada as they look at the threats to operations and our resiliency. Rising temperatures also cause water quality concerns that lead to treatment issues that are being considered by Health Canada and by our own Drinking Water Quality Committee. Before the adaptation, we can also play a role in reducing our own industrial contribution to climate and Greenhouse Gases (GHG’s) – so our Energy Committee is working within our Climate Change Committee on how our plants can reduce energy and then create cleaner energy. Of course, all of this eventually comes down to issues of infrastructure renewal and financing. The work of our Utility Leadership Committee on Sustainable Operations will help build a road map for our members.
Soooooo…of course….all of these critical issues will be discussed at the National Water & Wastewater Conference in Banff in November. Come and join the conversation. Most of the program is now posted on the website and I encourage you to register early! www.nwwc2019.ca