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The importance of protecting our water resources cannot be overstated In economic terms Environment Canada estimates that the measurable contribution of water to the Canadian economy ranges between 75 billion and 23 billion per year In environmental terms water is the lifeblood of the planet Without a steady supply of clean fresh water all life including human would cease to exist Fortunately Canada is blessed with an abundance of water However that abundance has led to misuse and abuse of the resource from household toilets that use 20 liters per flush where 6 liters would doTesar 1998 to industrial plants that use water bodies as convenient sewers The quantity quality and economic problems we face as a result of our use of water are complex but at least one of the causes of these problems is easy to manage the way we waste water And the solution is straight forward water conservation Simply stated water conservation means doing the same with less by using water more efficiently or reducing where appropriate in order to protect the resource now and for the future Using water wisely will reduce pollution and health risks lower water costs and extend the useful life of existing supply and waste treatment facilities We use water in many ways and assign different values to those uses Instream uses such as transportation and recreation are valued highly but it has proven difficult to give them a dollar value that has any real meaning For example just what would the average consumer be willing to pay to swim in a clean lake or for a chance to catch fish in a clean unpolluted river This is where Environment Canada encounters discrepancies when determining the net worth of water By far the greater number and variety of water uses occur on land These are called withdrawal uses and although important to our daily lives they have tended to be assigned a low value
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