Canada's Rivers at Risk
Environmental Flows and Canada's Freshwater Future
But this perspective is misleading. Water is constantly moving, and it is this constant motion – the flow of water – that provides insight into the availability of fresh water and the health of freshwater ecosystems.
Many of the world’s river flows are at risk from the impacts of producing more food, generating electricity, fuelling industry and quenching the thirst of expanding cities. Climate change further compounds these problems by introducing new threats and uncertainties.
Canada's Rivers at Risk: Environmental Flows and Canada's Freshwater Future assesses how these pressures are affecting environmental flows in 10 of the nation's rivers. Overall, their status is troubling.
Canada's Rivers at Risk and their WatershedsClick on the different regions in the map to learn more about the watersheds.
What are environmental flows?
- The Brisbane Declaration
A river's cycle of high and low flows is much like our blood pressure: a vital indicator of overall ecosystem health. If we wish to maintain the many social, cultural, and economic benefits that rivers provide then we must maintain the flows that support them.
Focusing on environmental flows forces us to look at water use from the ecosystem outward – to answer the question how much water we can use by first asking how much water the river has to give.
Key Threats to River Flow
Withdrawals & Diversions
Flow Regulation and Fragmentation
How to Protect Canada's Rivers
- Take aggressive action on climate change
Be part of the global solution to stopping climate change by helping to create and implement a fair, effective, and science-based global agreement, while reducing Canadian emissions and protecting rivers here at home as the climate changes.
- Keep water use within nature's limits
Maintain water withdrawals within each watershed's sustainable limits and prohibit interbasin transfers that move water from one watershed to another.
- Change the flow
Design and operate dams and other instream infrastructure to better balance nature's needs (the flow regimes required to sustain healthy rivers) with human needs for hydropower, navigation, flood control, and water storage.