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We rigorously research and conduct high quality analysis on issues of sustainable development. Our thinking is original and thought provoking.


We convene opinion leaders and experts from across Canada around our table to share their knowledge and diverse perspectives. We stimulate debate and integrate polarities. We create a context for possibilities to emerge.


We generate ideas and provide realistic solutions to advise governments, Parliament and Canadians. We proceed with resolve and optimism to bring Canada’s economy and environment closer together.

NRT Water Forum – January 12, 2012


The complete video of the NRT Water Forum is available above.

Sustainable Water Use and Canada’s Natural Resource Sectors: Charting a Course Action Plan

The purpose of this forum is to bring attention to critical aspects of water use by Canada’s natural resource sectors, and raise the profile of actions required to better manage our water.

Specifically the forum will:

  1. Highlight the findings and recommendations of the National Round Table’s (NRT) latest report on water and Canada’s natural resource sectors, Charting a Course;
  2. Provide a forum for experts and stakeholders to provide input on the NRT’s report recommendations, with a view to develop steps towards an Action Plan to advance the recommendations;
  3. Convene experts, stakeholders and officials to discuss more broadly some of the themes in the report through sharing of other related initiatives across the country.

* Please note that only the morning sessions will be available via Webcast.

8:30 – 8:45 Welcome and Opening Remarks Robert Slater
Interim Chairperson, NRT
8:45 – 9:00 Overview of Charting A Course Recommendations Jill Baker
9:00 – 9:50 Panel I: Water Forecasts and the Importance of Water Data and

Tony Maas
WWF Canada

Anthony Watanabe

9:50 – 10:45 Panel II: Putting a Price on Water

Steven Renzetti
Brock University

Kirsten Vice

11:00 – 11:50 Panel III: Collaborative Water Governance

David Marshall
Fraser Basin Council

Don Pearson
Conservation Ontario

11:50 – 12:00 Instructions for the Afternoon Session

George Greene, Facilitator, Stratos Inc.

12:00 – 13:00 Networking Lunch
13:00 – 15:00 Outlining an Action Plan

Small Group Discussion

15:00 – 15:15 Health Break
15:15 – 16:15 Panel IV: Starting to Act

Mark Parent, NRT

Cairine MacDonald, Government of British Columbia

Jean Cinq-Mars, Government of Québec

David B. Brooks, POLIS

16:15 – 16:30 Closing Remarks

Robert Slater, Interim Chairperson, NRT


Panel I: Water Forecasts and the Importance of Water Data and Information

Water Forecasting (WF) Recommendations

WF1. The federal, provincial and territorial governments should collaborate in the development and publication of a national water-use forecast, updated on a regular basis – a Water Outlook – the first to be published within two years. This could be led by a national organization such as the Canadian Council for Ministers of the Environment.

WF2. Governments should develop new predictive tools, such as water forecasting, to improve their understanding of where and when water demands might increase. The information provided by forecasts will be important to inform water allocations and management strategies in the future.

WF3. Recognizing that accurate water forecasting requires improving how we measure and report water-quantity data, governments and industry should work collaboratively to develop appropriate measurement and reporting requirements on a sector-by-sector basis.

Water Data and Information (WD) Recommendations

WD1. Provincial and territorial governments should establish demand-side data systems that have clearly defined reporting requirements for water licence holders. These systems would have common obligations to report provisions, contain defined time periods for reporting, and introduce enforcement programs to ensure reporting of water use by water licence holders.

WD2. The provinces and territories, in collaboration with stakeholders and partners, should develop common measurement techniques to collect water-quantity data.

WD3. The provincial and territorial governments, in collaboration with the natural resource sectors, should research the sector-specific future water data needs of their jurisdictions. These initiatives would help jurisdictions identify and develop data-management approaches and systems that have buy-in from the natural resource sectors.

WD4. Governments at all levels should collaborate with partners and stakeholders to develop and integrate water-quantity data for use as a water-management tool at a local watershed scale. Provinces and territories should first develop integrated water-management tools within their jurisdictions at a finer spatial resolution, as it is easier to “roll-up” small-scale assessments to larger scales rather than to disaggregate an initial assessment performed at a larger spatial scale.

WD5. In collaboration with partners and stakeholders, governments at all levels, should develop protocols for transparent access to water data. Provinces and territories should continue establishing their own water-data portals. The federal government should develop a national web-based water portal, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, which also provides access to provincial and territorial water portals.

Panel II: Putting a Price on Water

Water Pricing (WP) Recommendations

WP1. Governments should research the relationship between water use and pricing needs before they implement water pricing on a volumetric basis. Specifically, they need to better understand the potential implications on sectors and firms. In order to do so, data on water-use needs to improve, to gain a better understanding of water intakes, recirculation, and recycling within facilities.

WP2. The natural resource sectors should look closely at their water intake and where the costs rest within their use of water. Incorporating the “value” of water into operations may reveal opportunities for costs savings, through implementation of improved technologies or best management practices, possibly leading to overall water intake reductions.

WP3. If a price is put on water use by the natural resource sectors, revenues should be directed to support watershed-based governance and management initiatives, rather than put into general revenue of the province or territory.

WP4. Recognizing that further research is required on the use of economic instruments within the context of watersheds, governments intending to use EIs should evaluate their environmental, economic, and social implications, allowing for an informed discussion of trade-offs.

* WP4 is a recommendation in the report under the section on Policy Instruments, but is related to pricing.

Panel III: Collaborative Water Governance

Collaborative Water Governance (WG) Recommendations

WG1. Governments should affirm the legitimacy of collaborative water governance and demonstrate that collaborative governance bodies have an important role to play. If governments choose to invest in collaborative processes, they must act on the recommendations provided by the collaborative process as much as possible and commit to provide formal feedback to the group when recommendations are ignored. Otherwise, participants from the natural resource sectors will lose confidence and leave the process, given the significant time and financial commitment for them.

WG2. Governments must recognize that collaborative water governance structures require clear roles and responsibilities and well-defined accountability rules. Most people and organizations involved in collaborative water governance across Canada, including the natural resource sectors, believe that there is insufficient clarity about authority and accountability for decision making within the current frameworks. As a minimum, the Terms of Reference for the collaborative processes require a written description of roles and responsibilities. A more formal document would strengthen the accountability, and in some cases, governments may want to enshrine the governance structure into a new piece of legislation.

WG3. Collaborative water governance processes should be developed and implemented in a coordinated manner with other planning processes and policies. Water governance is not only about water and cannot take place in isolation from other planning processes affecting and involving the natural resource sectors, such as municipal land use planning or forest management plans. As these processes operate at various scales and involve several orders of governments, policy alignment will require coordination between a number of governmental and non-governmental organizations.

WG4. Governments should provide incentives for participation. Effective collaborative water governance requires the involvement of a broad range of stakeholders, including the major water users in the natural resources sectors. For collaborative water governance processes to become operating concerns in the natural resources sectors (rather than optional activities), government must identify them as a priority. This could be done by making participation mandatory, through regulation or as a condition of water licences.

*Note: There are two recommendations not specifically being addressed by any of the panels – on the issue of Policy Instruments. We will not ask any of the morning panels to look at these two recommendations but will include them in the afternoon’s discussions.

PI1. Recognizing that water policy strategies across Canada need to be flexible and responsive to changing water realities (changing hydrological conditions and increased water demands on regional and watershed bases) to avoid potential water conflicts, governments should take a phased approach to policy change:

1. Ensure that enabling conditions such as legislation and regulation are in place. Because it takes years to develop and enact the legislation and regulation necessary for new economic instruments, jurisdictions that have not already done so should begin reviewing and working on the necessary legislative/regulatory and policy changes today if they want to strategically manage their water sustainability.

2. Stage policy options, thereby allowing for adaptation to different circumstances. A comprehensive evaluation of economic and environmental conditions within a watershed must take place before determining which policy instruments are the most appropriate and the most likely to address water-allocation issues. Only then will governments be in a position to implement policy options appropriate to the situation within the watershed. Staging of options should be based on the existing or expected water constraints within a watershed. For example, watersheds experiencing existing or growing pressures on their water resources should take more aggressive policy approaches.

PI2. Provincial and territorial governments should provide policy direction that is focused on more efficient water use and increased conservation, where required. To do so, jurisdictions should

o set conservation targets based on in-stream flow needs to ensure healthy aquatic ecosystems;
o set efficiency targets for the natural resource sectors to achieve;
o allow industry to demonstrate how they could achieve the efficiency targets on a voluntary basis first; and
o where necessary, send a long-term signal that water has an economic value by setting a volumetric price on water intake, in situations where water scarcity is or could be a real risk.

NRT Report

report cover
Executive Summary

Forum Experts

Robert Slater, NRT
David B. Brooks, POLIS
Jean Cinq-Mars
, Government of Québec
Tony Maas, WWF Canada
Cairine MacDonald, Government of British Columbia
David Marshall, Fraser Basin Council
Mark Parent, NRT
Don Pearson, Conservation Ontario
Steven Renzetti, Brock University
Anthony Watanabe, Innovolve
Kirsten Vice, NCASI

Join the Conversation

Forum Participants

Jill Baker, National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRT)

Jean-François Barsoum, IBM

Gemma Boag, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Ron Bonnett, Canadian Federation of Agriculture

Bill Borland, AMEC Earth Environmental

David Brooks, POLIS Project on Ecological Governance

Jim Bruce, Consultant

Ben Chalmers, Mining Association of Canada

Jean Cinq-Mars, Commissaire au développement durable du Québec

Karen Clarke-Whistler, TD Bank Financial Group

Bernadette Conant, Canadian Water Network (CWN)

Lois Corbett, Blue Economy Initiative

Dianne Cunningham, Richard Ivey School of Business, NRT Member

Victoria David, Cenovus

René Drolet, National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRT)

Diane Dupont, Brock University

George Greene, Stratos

Mark Henry, Statistics Canada

Christopher Hilkene, The Clean Water Foundation, NRT Member

Ted Horbulyk, University of Calgary

Jill Jensen, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Heather Kleb, Canadian Nuclear Association

Lynn Kriwoken, Ministry of Environment, British Columbia

Tim Krywulak, Council of Canadian Academies

Robert Kulhawy, Calco Environmental Group, NRT Member

Bob Larocque, Forest Products Association of Canada

Marie-Claude Leclerc, Regroupement des Organismes de Bassins Versants du Québec

Tony Maas, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – Canada

Cairine MacDonald, Government of British Columbia

David Marshall, Fraser Basin Council

Don McCabe, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

David McLaughlin, National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRT)

Rick Meyers, Mining Association of Canada

Francis Michaud, Office of the Auditor General of Québec

Brent Moore, Devon Canada Corporation

Sandeep Pandher, National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRT)

Mark Parent, NRT Member

Don Pearson, Conservation Ontario

Ralph Pentland, Canadian Water Issues Council

Richard Phillips, Bow River Irrigation District

André Plourde, Carleton University

Steven Renzetti, Brock University

Tara Shea, Mining Association of Canada

Robert Slater, Carleton University, Interim Chair, NRT

François Soulard, Statistics Canada

André St-Hilaire, INRS ETE

Mary Trudeau, ICF Marbek

Kirsten Vice, National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc. (NCASI)

Bernard Vigneault, Natural Resources Canada

Jennifer Vincent, Environment Canada

Anthony Watanabe, The Innovolve Group Inc.

Nadia Zenadocchio, Office of the Auditor General of Québec

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