CCME Workshop Reports
Water quality research plays an important role in developing environmental public policy, regulations and guidelines, and in decision making in general. Toward strengthening linkages between researchers and decision makers and on behalf of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), NWRI, with various host provinces, organized a series of national Science-Policy Workshops on select water quality issues.
These workshops have drawn together many of Canada's key people in the areas of water research, knowledge development, policy development and program delivery, and are designed to provide a forum for leading scientists to present the latest research to policy makers, to help identify research priorities, and to explore ways of sustaining dialogue between these two groups.
To date, workshops have been held on the following themes:
- Effects of Agricultural Activities on Water Quality
- Groundwater Quality
- Water Reuse and Recycling
- Wastewater Treatment for Small Communities
- Experts Workshop on Water Quality Monitoring
- Workshop Series Final Report: Overview and Lessons Learned
Intensification of agricultural operations over the past 40 years has increased the risk of contamination of surface and ground waters by pollutants such as eroded soil, nutrients and pesticides. Recently, we have become more concerned about pathogenic organisms, endocrine-disrupting compounds, and veterinary pharmaceuticals persisting in agricultural soils fertilized with manure, potentially to be transported to surface and ground waters. This workshop report highlights the main risks to water quality from agricultural activity in Canada, research needs, recent technologies for minimizing risks to water quality from agriculture, select recent related policies and initiatives and provides suggestions to better link science and policy in this field.
The percentage of Canadians using groundwater as a source of domestic, agricultural, and industrial water supply is approximately 30%. This dependence makes it very important that both the quality and quantity of groundwater is protected. In the final workshop report, the current scientific knowledge ("what we know"), research needs ("what we do not know"), and corresponding policy perspectives are documented for the following areas:
- fractured rock environments
- natural sources of contamination
- clays as barriers to contaminant transport
- pathogens in groundwater
- agricultural impacts on groundwater
- rural and municipal issues
- mining and metals
- NAPL spills
- petroleum industry issues
- risk assessment
- rural well-water quality
Recent groundwater-related initiatives, and workshop observations that better connect researchers and policy/program managers are also documented.
A growing number of water users are competing for the available supply of water to satisfy basic needs, enable economic development, sustain the natural environment, and to support recreational activities. Population growth, expected to be about 15 to 30 percent in Canada over the next 25 years will put increasing pressure on water resources. Growing population and demands on water supply also means larger volumes of wastewater effluent. Included in this report are: a review of water reuse categories, regulations and technologies; the experience with reuse in select industrial sectors; planning and implementation considerations; research needs; and suggestions for sustaining dialogue in this important area.
In upgrading, expanding or replacing failing treatment systems, small communities (including rural and northern) are generally faced with a serious challenge. In some cases, there are also new developments (e.g. apartment complexes and subdivisions) situated on the fringe of larger urban centres where it is not economically viable to connect to a large centralized treatment system. Many of these small communities require guidance as to the current trends in wastewater treatment technology and the adoption of innovative management strategies, when considering new or upgrading existing small communal treatment systems. This workshop report addresses issues related to wastewater treatment technology options (system design, operation and maintenance requirements) and institutional issues and challenges (policy, regulation, financing and administration) for small communal wastewater systems.
The goal of this workshop was to facilitate a national dialogue on Canadian water quality monitoring and share information on best practices in this area. This national workshop represented a forum for national and international water quality monitoring experts, managers and practitioners to present and discuss their experience with water quality programs, and to explore some of the challenges and lessons learned. Ultimately, the workshop aimed to identify opportunities for enhancing linkages among water quality monitoring networks and to build on the strengths of our collective water quality monitoring capacities.
Environment Canada 's National Water Research Institute, on behalf of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, led a national series of "Linking Water Science to Policy Workshops" as a mechanism by which recent science could be delivered to practitioners, and practitioners could identify research needs to scientists and research managers. A survey targeting some 300 participants over five workshops concludes that these workshops and their products have been well received and helpful at informing the decision-making process. Sustained dialogue and interaction between policy makers and researchers is essential to ensuring that science more routinely and significantly informs decision-making.
- Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment - Source to Tap
- "Bridging Canada's Science and Water Policy", EnviroZine, Issue 40, February 12, 2004
For further information, contact:
Karl A. Schaefer
Senior Science Policy Advisor
Science and Technology Liaison Division
National Water Research Institute
867 Lakeshore Road, P.O. Box 5050
Burlington, Ontario L7R 4A6 Canada
Phone: (905) 336-4884
Fax: (905) 336-4420
Email S&T Liaison
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