Water availability in Canada

In 2009, there was a high threat to water availability in portions of southern Ontario, southern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, southwestern Manitoba, and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. A high threat to water availability means that more than 40% of the water in rivers was withdrawn for human use. The threat was moderate to medium in portions of southern Alberta and southwestern Manitoba, where between 10 and 40% of water in rivers was withdrawn for human use. The threat to water availability was low across the rest of Canada, as less than 10% of water in rivers in those areas was withdrawn for human use.

Threats to water availability in Canada, 2009

Long description

The map shows the threat level to water availability in each of Canada's 164 sub-drainage areas in 2009.

Data for this chart
Threats to water availability in Canada, 2009
Sub-drainage area groupings Sub-drainage area names Threat to water availability
10N-10O-10P-10Q-10R-10S-10T-10U-10V Merged (Southern Beaufort Sea, Amundsen Gulf, Coppermine, Coronation Gulf and Queen Maud Gulf, Back, Gulf of Boothia, Southern Arctic Islands, Baffin Island, Arctic drainage, Northern Arctic Islands) Data not available
07L-07M-07N-07O-07P-07Q-07R-07S-07T-07U-10A-10B-10C-10D-10E-10F-10G-10H-10J-10K-10L-10M Merged (Fond-du-Lac, Lake Athabasca - shores, Slave, Hay, Southern Great Slave Lake, Great Slave Lake - east arm - south shore, Lockhart, Northeastern Great Slave Lake, Marian, Western Great Slave Lake, Upper Liard, Central Liard, Fort Nelson, Central Liard and Petitot, Lower Liard, Upper Mackenzie - Mills Lake, Upper Mackenzie - Camsell Bend, Central Mackenzie - Blackwater Lake, Great Bear, Central Mackenzie - The Ramparts, Lower Mackenzie, Peel and Southwestern Beaufort Sea) Low
04A-04B-04C-04D-04E-04F-04G-04H-04J-04K-04L-04M Merged (Hayes - Manitoba, Southwestern Hudson Bay, Severn, Winisk - coast, Ekwan - coast, Attawapiskat - coast, Upper Albany, Lower Albany - coast, Kenogami, Moose - Ontario, Missinaibi-Mattagami, Abitibi) Low
03A-03B-03C-03D-03E-03F-03G-03H-03J-03K-03L-03M-04N Merged (Nottaway - coast, Broadback and Rupert, Eastmain, La Grande - coast, Grande rivière de la Baleine - coast, Eastern Hudson Bay, Northeastern Hudson Bay, Western Ungava Bay, Aux Feuilles - coast, Koksoak, Caniapiscau, Eastern Ungava Bay, Harricanaw - coast) Data not available
02S-02T-02U-02V-02W-02X Merged (Betsiamites - coast, Manicouagan and aux Outardes, Moisie and St. Lawrence Estuary, Gulf of St. Lawrence - Romaine, Gulf of St. Lawrence - Natashquan, Petit Mécatina and Strait of Belle Isle) Low
08NM OkanaganFootnote [A] High
06G-06H-06J-06K-06L-06M-06N-06O-06P-06Q-06R-06S-06T Merged (Seal - coast, Western Hudson Bay - southern, Thelon, Dubawnt, Kazan, Chesterfield Inlet, Western Hudson Bay - central, Western Hudson Bay - northern, Hudson Bay - Southampton Island, Foxe Basin - Southampton Island, Foxe Basin - Melville Peninsula, Foxe Basin - Baffin Island, Hudson Strait - Baffin and Southampton Islands) Low
09A-09B-09C-09D-09E-09F-09H-09M Merged (Headwaters Yukon, Pelly, Upper Yukon, Stewart, Central Yukon, Porcupine, Tanana, Copper) Low
08A-08B-08C-08D-08E-08O Merged (Alsek, Northern coastal waters of British Columbia, Stikine - coast, Nass - coast, Skeena - coast, Queen Charlotte Islands) Low
06A-06B-06C-06D-06E-06F Merged (Beaver - Alberta and Saskatchewan, Upper Churchill - Manitoba, Central Churchill - upper - Manitoba, Reindeer, Central Churchill - lower - Manitoba, Lower Churchill - Manitoba) Low
03N-03O-03P-03Q Merged (Northern Labrador, Churchill - Newfoundland and Labrador, Central Labrador, Southern Labrador) Low
07K Lower Peace Low
07E Williston Lake Low
07F Upper Peace Low
07H Central Peace, upper Low
07J Central Peace, lower Low
08J Nechako Low
07D Lower Athabasca Low
08F Central coastal waters of British Columbia Low
07C Central Athabasca, lower Low
07G Smoky Low
08K Upper Fraser Low
07A Upper Athabasca Low
02Y Northern Newfoundland Low
07B Central Athabasca, upper Low
05T Grass and Burntwood Low
05E Central North Saskatchewan Low
02Z Southern Newfoundland Low
05D Upper North Saskatchewan Low
05F Battle High
05U Nelson Low
05G Lower North Saskatchewan Low
08G Southern coastal waters of British Columbia Low
05K Saskatchewan Low
08L Thompson Low
08M Lower Fraser Low
08H Vancouver Island Low
08P Skagit Low
05B Bow Medium
05C Red Deer Medium
01F Cape Breton Island Low
02Q Northern Gaspé Peninsula Low
01C Prince Edward Island Low
02R Saguenay Low
05R Eastern Lake Winnipeg Low
08N Columbia Low
05H Lower South Saskatchewan Low
05L Lake Winnipegosis and Lake Manitoba Low
05A Upper South Saskatchewan Medium
05S Western Lake Winnipeg Low
05J Qu'Appelle High
05Q English Low
05N Souris High
05M Assiniboine Moderate
01B Gulf of St. Lawrence and Northern Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick Low
11A Missouri High
02N Saint-Maurice Low
02P Lower St. Lawrence Low
05O Red Low
01A Saint John and Southern Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick Low
01D Bay of Fundy and Gulf of St. Lawrence, Nova Scotia Low
02J Upper Ottawa Low
05P Winnipeg Low
01E Southeastern Atlantic Ocean, Nova Scotia Low
02A Northwestern Lake Superior Low
02O Central St. Lawrence Low
02L Lower Ottawa Low
02K Central Ottawa Low
02B Northeastern Lake Superior Low
02D Wanipitai and French, Ontario Low
02C Northern Lake Huron Low
02M Upper St. Lawrence Low
02E Eastern Georgian Bay Low
02F Eastern Lake Huron High
02H Lake Ontario and Niagara Peninsula High
02G Northern Lake Erie Medium

Note: The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) Water Availability Indicator aggregates sub-drainage areas, as defined by the Standard Drainage Area Classification developed by Statistics Canada, into the following 76 groupings.

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 5.87 KB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The indicator is calculated by dividing water demand by water supply for each of Canada's 164 sub-drainage areas. The indicator does not include water withdrawn from lakes and groundwater. There are not enough data available to describe water availability in northern Quebec. The method used to calculate the Water Availability Indicator does not apply to northern Canada.
Source: Environment Canada (2012) Water Survey of Canada. Environment Canada (2011) Municipal Water and Wastewater Survey 2009. Statistics Canada (2012) Industrial Water Use Survey 2009. Statistics Canada (2011) Agricultural Water Use Survey 2010.

Having a safe and reliable freshwater supply is important to maintaining human, plant and animal populations; supporting economic development; and preserving healthy lakes and rivers. While Canada is a water-rich country, human pressure on the water supply is not necessarily applied in areas where water is abundant. For example, approximately 85% of Canadians live within 300 kilometres of the Canada-United States border, while 60% of Canada's freshwater flows north into the Arctic Ocean.Footnote [1] Water availability is an estimate of how human activity is changing the water supply. It indicates where water may become scarce in the future, especially in areas where water supplies are naturally low. Together, urban growth, expanding industrial activity, increasing food production by farms and changing weather patterns are placing increasing pressure on Canada's freshwater supply.

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