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Water & Sanitation

Where in the world is all the fresh water

Zach Dischner

As a Canadian when I think about summer time, the first thing that I look forward to is jumping into a lake. I can’t even count the number of different lakes around the country that I’ve taken a dip in.

via GIPHY

That’s because here in Canada, we have a ton of fresh water in lakes, rivers, aquifers-we’re swimming in them (sorry about the pun).

When I started writing this piece it was going to be a bragging piece about how great it is to be Canadian, with all my fresh water, the most in the world!

But mere seconds after starting my research I found out that not only does Canada NOT have the most fresh water in the world, we don’t even have the second most. We are in third.

via GIPHY

Brazil and Russia have more than Canada. As you can see Brazil has a LOT more.

Country

Total Renewable Fresh Water (Cu Km)

Brazil

8233

Russia

4507

Canada

2902

Source: http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/y4473e/y4473e0g.gif

This was a serious blow to my Canadian ego.

But back to fresh water.

Fresh water is an extremely important and finite natural resource that humanity relies on to survive. Human activities are threatening the supply of clean fresh water and that’s a big problem because everyone has seen at least one post apocalyptic movie about what the world would be like without water.

I think I could hack it in a Mad Max Thunderdome style world, but I worry about my friends and family.

via GIPHY

Yeah, I'd be fine.

Freshwater has suffered from the tragedy of the commons, because it is a public good it has been easy to take advantage of, while seeing few consequences and difficult to justify protecting when it seems like there is an endless supply. Not to mention the vast number of industries lobbying governments all over the world for greater access to water supplies and fewer regulations.

Of course, everyone knows the supply is not endless, but even so, efforts to create meaningful protection have been limited in their success. There has even been instances of water protections being scaled back, such as in Canada with the Navigable Waters Protection Act being changed in 2012.

You might be thinking that for countries with lots of water, the potential for crisis is still a long way off, but Sao Paulo’s water crisis earlier in 2015 proved that even if you have the largest supply of fresh water in the world, you can no longer be complacent when it comes to taking action on water protection.

The United States is another great example, they boast the 4th largest supply of water in the world and yet the droughts that continue to plague California point to a serious problem.

As global temperatures rise and fresh water is lost to industrial pollution and contamination, the question isn’t going to be who has the most water, it’s going to be who can take care of what they’ve got.

And since Canada has so much, go to TAKE ACTION NOW to call on Canadian leaders to prioritize water and sanitation around the world.