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The Case of Canada ? Institutions and Water in the South Saskatchewan River Basin
Corkal, D., B. Inch and P.E. Atkins (AAFC-PFRA) 2007 English

Canadian society and culture are intricately linked to water. This paper provides an overview of the key institutions with some degree of interest in water resource management in Canada, and principally within the South Saskatchewan River Basin in Alberta and Saskatchewan. To better understand Canadian water institutions and their roles in water resource management, three driving factors are identified as key institutional drivers (forces that shape institutions and how they function): 1)Decentralization and shared jurisdictions 2)Sustainable development and integrated water resource management 3)Governance and the need for leadership and clearly focused federal, provincial and local roles. Canada is a federation with unique institutional arrangements for water resource management. In essence, the provinces have the mandate and authority to manage water resources. The federal role is limited and its involvement with the provinces often rests within targeted federal-provincial agreements. Local government has direct responsibility to protect and manage water resources. Because many levels of government and non-government organizations have a vested interest in water management, the shared jurisdictions are often seen as a complex network, where roles often overlap. Canada has evolved from the days when water management was driven by nation-building activities where water resources were harnessed and utilized for society's needs. In the 1980s, water management shifted from water development projects, to sustainable development and integrated water resource management. This change recognized the complex nature of water management for all of society, the economy and the environment. Increasing Canadian environmental awareness drove governments towards sustainable development approaches in managing water. The Government of Canada established the Federal Water Policy in 1987, as a result of the 1985 Inquiry on Federal Water Policy. This remains Canada's most current water policy, and it is recognized that not all of the recommendations were able to be acted upon. Waterborne disease outbreaks in drinking water during the period 2000 to 2005, have highlighted that water governance remains a challenge in Canada. After these outbreaks, water inquiries were instrumental in changing governance structures for water institutions across Canada. Semi-arid regions such as the Canadian prairie and the South Saskatchewan River Basin are particularly vulnerable to water and climate impacts. Over the years, Canadian institutions have adapted to increasing pressures caused by water and climate, placed on society and the environment. It is anticipated that future vulnerabilities caused by global warming and increasing competition for water will require future adaptations. The roles that institutions assume will also require adaptation. Water governance is always challenging and will become more complex in the future. Water and the environment are cross-cutting issues involving inter-disciplinary approaches, and the active participation of many institutional actors. All orders of government will need to find new ways of working together, within and between their own hierarchies. All orders of government will need to engage and empower all stakeholders, including citizens, industry and academia, with desired goals of making efficient and timely water resource management decisions, and of finding improved capacity to deal with water conflict and competing interests in water resources. Federal, provincial, and local roles and responsibilities for water resource management will need to become more clearly defined and focused, in order to truly achieve sustainable integrated water resource management

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