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Great Lakes Article:

Water study to probe province's future needs

06/22/2002
London Free Press


TORONTO -- Environment Canada has launched a five-year study to determine if Great Lakes water supplies meet the needs of Ontarians.

The study, which involves federal and provincial scientists and managers, will determine the source of surface and groundwater supplies in the Great Lakes basin and whether environmental stresses such as climate changes will put water supplies at risk.

Over the next decade, environment experts expect increasingly tough choices to emerge between the competing needs and uses of water.

Wendy Leger, federal co-ordinator of the study, said the project is "an unprecedented effort" to determine water sources and track them over time, with the goal of meeting Ontarians' needs.

"Given that Canada per capita has 10 times more water than the United States per capita and 20 times more than Mexico, the reality of finite, and even scarce, water resources is surprising, particularly to those who live within the Great Lakes basin," Leger said in a release.

Andrew Piggott, a scientist with Environment Canada's National Water Research Institute said: "Our large groundwater resource varies greatly across the basin.

"This study will add significantly to the knowledge we'll need to cope with the twin stresses of increasing demand from population and industrial growth and drier conditions predicted due to climate change," he said.

The study was launched to fill in information gaps highlighted by recent reports by the International Joint Commission, Ontario's environmental commissioner, the federal commissioner of environment and sustainable development, and the Walkerton inquiry into tainted water.

It aims to identify priority areas for water conservation efforts, and aid federal, provincial and regional water managers in coping with growing competition for water supplies in the basin.

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