In Centre Wellington, we seem to have no shortage of water. Just take a look around. The Grand River flows abundantly, especially in the spring. Belwood Lake and the Elora Quarry provide great swimming holes when summer gets too hot. Fields are green, not parched. I’ve even heard that some housing developments have first had to drain the land before the houses could be built. All this could reasonably lead us to believe, wrongly, that in Centre Wellington, we have water to spare.
This is a mistaken belief shared by many Canadians. The lakes and rivers of our country are a matter of national pride and identity. They seem plentiful, and this makes us complacent—to our own potential detriment. Here’s what Dustin Garrick, Philomathia Chair of Water Policy at McMaster University, has to say about this: The Royal Bank of Canada’s water attitudes survey has been running for eight years; it started measuring perceptions of extreme flooding and drought. In the 2015 results … the vast majority of Canadians do not believe they live in areas vulnerable to floods (72 per cent) or droughts (81 per cent) …. Our ‘water risk’ literacy appears to be low, a striking contrast with the world’s thought leaders surveyed by the World Economic Forum each year for a “global risks report.” Water crises have been among the top five risks in this global survey for the past five years. In 2015, water crises reached the highest impact risk for the first time. It’s time for us to wake up to water risks in an era of climate change. (What the California Drought Means to Canadians.)
Here in Centre Wellington, we need to wake up now. A 2009 report considers Centre Wellington a potential water-stressed area due to “drought and future scenarios.” And the GRCA, in the same year, noted that “If future municipal demands increase to 8% and 10% of total watershed budget Township’s water supply availability will be at risk.”
Our rivers and our swimming holes are beautiful. But let’s not let them fool us into thinking we’ve got water to give away.