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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

Balancing Act: Water Conservation and Economic Growth

Report by Karen Wilkie

Despite being a relatively water-rich country, Canada’s water resources are not infinite and are not evenly distributed. Karen Wilkie points out that some regions, like southern Alberta, are reaching the limits of local water supply. She focuses on Alberta, where periods of recent drought, rapid population growth, and an expanding economy thirsty for water are adding to the Province’s water shortages.

Barring putting a cap on new users or directing development and industry to where there is sufficient water to support them, Wilkie suggests the challenge is to change how water is perceived and used. She asserts failing to do so will create significant economic and environmental costs. In this paper, Wilkie discusses a variety of water conservation policy options that could reduce demand on Alberta’s water resources. The author also identifies barriers to advancing water conservation initiatives and advances future directions to overcome the barriers.

Wilkie recommends developing a vision that identifies future economic development goals and the role of water conservation in achieving those goals. She also suggests that investments should be made in education about and promotion of water conservation, and that all users should have access to up-to-date, accurate information on Alberta’s water supplies. She concludes that Alberta needs to rethink its current, unsustainable use of water, and create a proactive water policy that balances water conservation and economic growth.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): Karen Wilkie;
Publisher: Canada West Foundation [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2005; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: Provincial;
Registration Required: Yes Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / Environment & Climate / Water
Policy Articles / Environment & Climate / Water / 2005
Policy Articles / Environment & Climate

Keywords / Tags:

Alberta's water supply; water conservation; water stewardship; water resources; drought; economic growth; water policy;