I'm sorry; it was page 4.
With slide 5, you'll have to excuse me. I'm trained as a lawyer, so there has to be a legal slide in every deck I present—and a complicated legal slide, of course.
This is to illustrate the simple point that even within the federal government, responsibility for water management is shared widely among departments. Of course, the Department of Transport looks after many of the impacts on water from marine transportation. Aboriginal Affairs has direct responsibility over issues in the north and issues on reserves, for example. Agriculture Canada has a number of responsibilities. The Department of Natural Resources has extensive scientific and technological activities related to various aspects of the environment, including water. Then, even within the Department of the Environment we have numerous statutes in addition to the Canada Water Act that directly or indirectly address water, and I'll touch on some of them in the presentation
Slide 6 then gives you an overview of the types of activities we undertake, either alone or in partnership. We work on water quality in terms of both monitoring, basic science, and direct protection. We do a lot of monitoring of water quantity and science. We're also involved jointly with provinces and in some cases with the U.S. in directly managing water flow for rivers that flow either from one province to another or across the border. Through the Canadian environmental sustainability indicators we provide information to Canadians about water quantity and water quality.
The remaining slides provide a little more detail on each of those activities. If you look at slide 7, we provide an example of a couple of the freshwater quality indicators that the CESI—the Canadian environmental sustainability indicators program—generates.
The main observation about water quality in Canada is that water quality is generally fair to good, but of course there are risks that which we need to pay attention to and that need to be managed on an ongoing basis. Over the last decade we've seen a clear increase in the percentage of sites we monitor that are rated good or excellent, and we've seen a decline in sites that are rated poor or marginal. This is important both for ecosystem health and, of course, human health.
In terms of impacts on water quality, there is of course a variety of natural factors and many anthropogenic factors, in terms of urban impacts, industrial impacts, and agricultural impacts, that affect the quality of water in rivers and lakes, for example by increasing concentrations of nutrients, sediments, pesticides, toxic substances, pharmaceuticals, and just basic disruption of water flow.
Of course, there are specific indicators, but the main areas of concern would be the St. Lawrence, the Lake Winnipeg basin, and the Great Lakes as a whole, which have relatively high risks of water quality impairment due to human activities.
Slide 8 illustrates that we conduct water quality monitoring at more than 500 sites in Canada. Some of these sites we operate exclusively, but many we operate jointly with the provinces, based on memoranda of understanding that we have, currently with six provinces. Of course, the data is all available, and the goal is to provide data and analysis to inform decision makers not just at the federal government but at all levels of government, and also individual Canadians.
The next slide is a very brief overview of some of the department's activities to manage water pollution. Again I'd emphasize that the responsibility for managing water pollution is shared with the provinces, including the municipalities. To give a few examples, the Fisheries Act, which is primarily administered by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, includes a provision that prohibits the deposit of what are called deleterious substances in waters frequented by fish. That is a long-standing and of course very powerful pollution prevention provision.
It works the opposite of the way most environmental statutes work. There's a prohibition in place, and then the prohibition is lifted by means of regulations. Whereas in most cases, of course, when we want to restrict something we impose a regulation, in this case the regulation lifts the prohibition and establishes standards. We have, as I mentioned earlier, a number of regulations, including regulations for effluent from metal mining, pulp and paper, and wastewater facilities.
The Migratory Birds Convention Act includes a very similar and similarly old prohibition on the deposit of deleterious substances in areas frequented by migratory birds. A few years ago you would have heard about a conviction of one of the oil sands companies related to one of its tailings ponds. That was a prosecution for a violation of this prohibition, in which the water was in such a condition that the migratory birds that landed on it were damaged. That's a little-known provision that we rely on fairly regularly.
Then, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act we have a number of provisions and activities that directly affect and manage water quality. The oceans disposal provisions prohibit the dumping of waste at sea in almost every circumstance, other than a very small list of relatively inert substances, and even then only when the proponent can demonstrate that there's no better way to dispose of the substance.
We have numerous regulations that limit the toxic content of products or of emissions from industrial and commercial activities, many of which limit water pollution.
The authority to regulate nutrient content was originally in the Canada Water Act, but when the Canadian Environmental Protection Act was created in 1988, that authority was moved to CEPA.
Then, of course, we have authority to require emergency planning—
I apologize; I've taken a little longer than expected.