Keeping Water Clean: Water Concerns for Farmers
You already know water is essential for your farming practices. But are you aware of specific environmental concerns in Canada that could impact your clean water?
Canadian Agriculture and Water Statistics
According to the Council of Canadian Academies, in an expert panel on sustainable water management for Canadian agriculture, the agricultural industry hosts 2 million Canadian jobs. Additionally, 70% of the food Canadians buy were produced by Canadian farmers, a high percentage to maintain in our globalized world, where much of our food is imported.
Most Canadians value water highly. In a recent Ipsos Reid survey, 55% of Canadian respondents rated water as our country's most valuable natural resource. Canada is in somewhat of a unique position when it comes to water, since most of our water flows northward but most of our population lives in the south. This can make water management difficult. Similarly, degrading ecosystems, water shortages and droughts all contribute to anxiety about having enough clean water.
In Canada, the agricultural industry is responsible for 10% of gross water withdrawals and 66% of water consumption which makes agriculture the largest water consumer in Canada. Much of Canada's farmland is watered by precipitation, whereas Alberta has 64% of the national irrigated farmland.
Clean Water Concerns Specific to Farming
Whether you're worried about your own water being polluted or the possibility of your farm causing water pollution, you need to be aware of potential problems in order to avoid them.
Fracking is short for hydraulic fracturing. As its name suggests, hydraulic fracturing uses water to fracture shale and mine the natural gas underneath. This means millions of litres of water are pumped down a well at a high pressure into the shale to cause it to crack.
Fracking and oil companies are required to maintain strict water pollution standards; consequently, many companies insist that their form of mining doesn't contaminate nearby water sources for drinking and farming.
However, organizations like the Council of Canadians believe fracking has the potential to pollute surrounding water, specifically groundwater, which is often used for farming.