The 2016 federal budget comes out on March 22, World Water Day: a day to celebrate water and reflect on how we can become better stewards of this precious resource. This year’s budget should include dedicated funding towards efforts that protect and restore our freshwater ecosystems and drinking water.
Already this year, the federal government has taken an important step towards safeguarding our water. On February 22, along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it announced targets to reduce nutrients that cause toxic and nuisance algal blooms in Lake Erie. But we’re not going to see any benefits from targets if we don’t invest efforts that will help us meet them. Investment in science goes a long way. That’s because monitoring and modelling help us learn more about what solutions are needed and where. With the right knowledge, limited funds can be directed towards developing and implementing action plans to effectively eliminate algal blooms.
In addition, drawing from the Green Budget Coalition’s recommendations, other water investments we hope to see in the federal budget include:
- A permanent Great Lakes fund to address phosphorus pollution, invasive species, and threats to wildlife habitats in the Great Lakes.
- Renewed funding for the Great Lakes Nutrient Initiative, a critical program that has advanced the science on the causes of toxic and nuisance algal blooms, but whose funding is set to expire this month.
- Increased funding for potable water infrastructure so that the human right to clean and safe water is granted to all Canadians (and so that communities don’t keep relying on bottled water that pollutes our rivers and lakes).
Canada is home to nearly one fifth of the world’s freshwater. Freshwater is a vital source of drinking water, a home to a diversity of wildlife, a cornerstone of our economy, and an integral part of our cultural fabric. But there are a number of threats to our freshwater bodies. Plastic pollution, algal blooms, and invasive species are all putting our water at risk.
On World Water Day, it’s important to remember that these waters are a gift not only to enjoy and cherish, but also to protect for current and future generations.
The federal budget should reflect the value of our freshwater. Our country’s economy, ecology, and communities are deserving of that investment.