Environmental Flow Standards
Measures whether the provinces and territories of Canada, as well as the federal government, have enforceable environmental flow standards

Getting data to report on this impact measure is a work in progress. This shared measurement system belongs to all members of the Our Living Water Network, so if you have any data or ideas to share with us on this measure, please send us an email at info@ourlivingwaters.ca.

Overview

In 2007, more than 800 water leaders gathered in Brisbane, Australia to discuss the urgent need to protect fresh water globally.The flow of rivers around the world emerged as a critical piece of the conversation. The Brisbane Declaration, amongst other things, defined what is meant by environmental flows: Environmental flows describe the quantity, timing, and quality of water flows required to sustain freshwater and estuarine ecosystems and the human livelihoods and well-being that depend on these ecosystems.

In short, if we want to have healthy, life-giving waters we need to maintain healthy amounts of good quality water, and if we want to ensure this, then these flows need to be legally binding. Many of our freshwater systems across the country need to be restored to maintain the social and ecological benefits of healthy water, and to be resilient in the face of the threats they face.

Whereas our water flow water health indicator represents an analysis of the actual state of flows across the country, this impact measure seeks to examine how regional and federal governments are enacting legislated protections to maintain sufficient quantity, timing and quality of water flows.

To establish this benchmark, a systematic review of environmental flow policies across Canadian jurisdictions is necessary to determine: a) whether a definition of environmental flow that meets the Brisbane Declaration is used; and b) whether established environmental flows are enforceable across the entire jurisdiction.

While we don’t have the full analysis for this measure, we do see some encouraging stories of environmental flows being considered in the country. For example, in 2016, Canada and the USA adopted a plan to reestablish the natural flow of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. And, in British Columbia, an environmental flow needs policy has been recently developed. While the policy is not currently enforceable, it is an encouraging start.

5-Year target: To establish a process for, and identify, an initial benchmark for this impact measure.

Last updated November 2017

Our Living Waters Network Members leading this conversation:

If you would like to be part of this conversation, email us at info@ourlivingwaters.ca.

Note: The data presented here represents our best research given the time and resources at hand. We acknowledge there may be errors. This shared measurement system belongs to all members of the Our Living Water Network, so if you have any corrections for us, or ideas to share on this measure, please send us an email at info@ourlivingwaters.ca.

Environmental Flow Standards|Measures whether the provinces and territories of Canada, as well as the federal government
Environmental Flow Standards|Measures whether the provinces and territories of Canada, as well as the federal government, have enforceable environmental flow standards
Imagine a Canada where all waters are in good health: