‘What’s Your Eddy IQ?’ Which Canadian province has the highest per capita water withdrawals?

Nikki Nguyen

Welcome back to ‘What’s Your Eddy IQ?’

This week we asked: “Which Canadian province has the highest per capita water withdrawals?”. It turns out that the answer is Newfoundland.

Fresh water plays a critical role in ecosystems and human economic activity. The water we use ultimately returns to the hydrologic cycle, making its way to lakes, rivers, etc. However, it won’t necessarily be returned to its original source(s). This means that the amount of water used may be surplus, while in other areas, fresh water is potentially overconsumed. Moreover, the quality of water returned to the hydrologic cycle after use often deteriorates. Therefore, it’s critical to ensure adequate water withdrawals and supply, to limit human-driven water quality degradation

Before figuring out solutions for water conservation, understanding how water is used in Canada and its provinces as well as the reasons underpinning the high consumption helps build a strong foundation for developing a long-term consumption plan.

According to The Conference Board of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador is ranked as the province with the highest share of water withdrawals with 782 cubic meters consumed per capita per year (SOURCE). This withdrawal rate far outstrips the Canadian average of 329.6 cubic meters per capita, as well as high withdrawal countries such as Finland and Japan, which consume 555.9 and 638.8 cubic meters per capita respectively. This is primarily due to the high levels of industrial water use (particularly due to the mining industry), which accounts for roughly 50 per cent of the province’s fresh water withdrawal. Residential use is also a factor, accounting for approximately 30 per cent of total withdrawals. This is partially due to the fact that many Newfoundland municipalities charge a flat fee for water instead of volumetric rates, which scale with consumption.

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