Our watersheds, notwithstanding their current health, face mounting threats that could cause deterioration of their health. Here are the major causes of why Canada’s waters are at risk:
- Pollution: Pollution from industry, agriculture, and some of our daily activities enter our waterways and increase the amount of harmful contaminants in our waters.
- Alteration of water flows: Building dams and any structure that blocks the natural flow of water can harm fish and bugs that need different levels of water at different times in their life cycle. It also impacts the ability of water to flush out harmful contaminants.
- Habitat loss: Building cities, roads, and other related infrastructure as well as developing agricultural land in addition to resource extraction leading to, e.g. forest loss can have a negative impact the health of our waters if done without consideration to how it will impact our lakes and rivers.
- Overuse of water: When we take too much water to run our industries, water our fields and serve our cities, we impact the very health of the water we rely upon.
- Invasive species: When fish or bugs from other areas end up in waters where they don’t belong, they can out-compete the local fish and bugs.
- Habitat fragmentation: When we build roads and other structures that put up barriers within a water body, we restrict the ability of fish and bugs to move and adapt.
- Climate change: As climate changes, the rate of extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, increases. A changing climate also impacts the conditions within our lakes and rivers which can significantly impact the life there.
In June 2017, WWF-Canada released their country-wide assessment of all Canada’s waters. The Watershed Reports included an assessment of each of these threats. An overall threat rating, shown here, was assessed by averaging the score of these seven threats.
Part of our goal of all Canada’s waters in good health by 2030 includes ensuring that we are minimizing the threats to our aquatic ecosystems.
Last updated June 2018