Media Advisory
October 3, 2011

Simon Fraser University
Public Affairs and Media Relations (PAMR)

Martin Livingston, BreakThrough Communications Inc., 604.657.8234,
Yvonne Chiang, BreakThrough Communications Inc., 604.880.5090,
Carol Thorbes, PAMR, 778.782.3035,

Report flags Canada’s water system as climate change casualty

A new report co-authored by a member of Simon Fraser University’s Adaption to Climate Change Team (ACT) says climate change is threatening Canada’s water system.

SFU ACT’s Climate Change Adaption and Water Governance report calls for serious management measures to reduce the risk of water scarcity and ensure high water-quality standards.

Bob Sandford, the report’s lead author, will provide details of it at a news conference on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at SFU’s Graduate Segal School of Business in downtown Vancouver.

“The days when Canadians take an endless abundance of fresh water for granted are numbered,” warns Sanford.

Highlights of the report:

  • Catastrophic climate-related events such as the 2011 Assiniboine River flood in southern Alberta, the 2009 Prairie drought, and the 2003 Okanagan fires, which were preceded by 44 straight days without rain, are threatening Canada’s water supply.
  • Climate change is causing increased weather instability. The result is more frequent, deeper and more persistent droughts, as well as more intense rainfall and flooding across Canada, according to the report. Droughts and floods will result in costly, ongoing damage, not to just public infrastructure such as roads, bridges and water treatment plants, but to the country’s entire built environment.
  • Today, half of every dollar paid out by insurance companies is for water damage related to extreme weather events, which will continue to increase unless government and planners undertake the deep reforms necessary to manage water differently.

In the long run, the greatest threat may be to the nation’s treasured fresh water supply, as quality is undermined by the increasing impact of drought and flood.

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Backgrounder on Climate Change report announcement

Bob Sandford is EPCOR chair of the Canadian Partnership in support of the United Nations Water for Life Decade and lead author of the Climate Change Adaptation and Water Governance report. EPCOR owns and operates electrical transmission and water and wastewater facilities in Alberta, B.C. and Arizona.

Deborah Harford is executive director, SFU Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT)

Release of Climate Change Adaptation and Water Governance, the fourth report in ACT’s series on adapting to climate change. Sandford will discuss the report’s findings and explain why all levels of government should adopt the report’s 12 recommendations to meet the critical challenges posed by current and projected climate effects on water security in Canada.

Tues., Oct. 4 at 10:30 a.m.

CN Strategy Room, SFU Graduate Segal School of Business, 500 Granville St., Vancouver

About ACT
ACT is an SFU-based research program designed to address the fact that Canadians face major impacts of climate change such as violent storms, sea-level rise, water scarcity, energy challenges and health risks. In a five-year series of six-month sessions on top-of-mind climate change issues, ACT is bringing leading experts from around the world together with industry, community and government decision-makers to explore climate change risks and generate recommendations for sustainable adaptation. Each session features multi-stakeholder conferences and public dialogues that raise awareness and study the problems posed as well as potential solutions. These events support a policy research and development process led by an expert working with a team of graduate researchers to develop policy options for sustainable adaptation to the impacts.

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