Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to start by saying how I came to be here today. The executive director from the CCME secretariat in Winnipeg was asked to present today and tell you folks about the water management committee. Unfortunately, he's meeting today with deputy ministers in Toronto, so he's asked me to fill in.
I'd like to take maybe about 10 minutes and just explain what our group does and how it may fit with what you folks are doing. The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment secretariat is in Winnipeg. Of course, we're led by the council of ministers. Under the council of ministers there's a deputy ministers committee. Under the deputy ministers committee is a committee called EPPC, the environmental planning and protection committee. That committee is generally at the level of assistant deputy ministers or their designates, executive director folks.
Under those three committees there are committees that do work on specific items, and I'm currently the co-chair of the water management committee, WMC. The water management committee's mandate is that it manages intergovernmental approaches to water issues in Canada. The water management committee's work includes recommending priorities for cooperative action on existing and emerging water issues and coordinating the delivery of activities under CCME's strategic vision of water.
So, currently WMC is working under a strategic vision that was developed in approximately 2013. The vision right now has four goals. The strategic vision of water, the actual vision of it, is that “Canadians have access to clean, safe and sufficient water to meet their needs in ways that also maintain the integrity of ecosystems”. The mission of that vision is that “CCME facilitates forward-thinking research and integrated policy, standard and/or guideline development, that contribute to the sustainable management, protection, restoration and conservation of Canada’s water”.
Currently there are four main goals under the strategic vision:Goal 1: Aquatic ecosystems are protected on a sustainable watershed basis....
Goal 2: The conservation and wise use of water is promoted....
Goal 3: Water quality and water quantity management is improved, benefitting human and ecosystem health....
Goal 4: Climate change impacts are reduced through adaptive strategies.
Under those four goals, the water management committee has developed specific projects, and those specific projects are led by a group of folks all across Canada who are experts in those particular projects. We make sure those specific projects fit under the four main goals of the strategic vision for water.
I just want to tell you quickly, at a high level, what six of those projects currently are. I'm not expert enough in every one of those projects to go into the scientific details of them, but I'd at least like to give you a bit of a flavour for the types of work that the water management committee does.
Current project number one concerns groundwater. Between 2010 and 2013, the water management committee developed and pilot tested an approach for assessing the sustainability of groundwater resources at a local, regional, or Canada-wide scale. A high-level framework was developed. That framework is called the groundwater sustainability assessment approach, GSAA. There's a current project to develop a guidance document to support the GSAA framework.
Project number two concerns environmental flow needs, EFN. Environmental flow relates to water flows that are required to sustain an ecosystem. There was a final report produced called the “Approaches, Successes and Challenges of EFN Assessments”. That assessment was a world-wide assessment and then an assessment across Canada as to what folks currently have in terms of environmental flows and perhaps what's needed in the future regarding environmental flows. The last task under that project title was to have a series of webinars for folks who specialize in that, to review several case studies that were submitted as part of that final report under environmental flow needs.
The third project currently going is under the title “nutrients as a resource.” That particular project was designed to analyze management frameworks for reducing nutrients going into waterways, specifically through recovery and recycling. The project was designed to try to get a flavour for the current state of recovery and recycling of nutrients across Canada and around the world, and to provide an inventory of current programs in Canada.
Another project came under the general title “water pricing.” This particular project was directed to the water management committee by the council of ministers when it met last June. It had a presentation specifically about water and about some projects that were ongoing in British Columbia at the time.
One of the discussion items there was water pricing. The council of ministers directed our group to figure out what's going on across Canada in terms of of water pricing. A final report was just submitted, April 23, 2015, so it's fairly recent.
The end result of that project was to outline 11 principles of water pricing that could be used across Canada. Five principles are designed to influence behaviour of water users. Six principles were designed to generate public revenue. No one pricing principle fits all water management situations across Canadian jurisdictions. That project, hopefully, will be wrapping up fairly soon.
Another project had the general title “climate change, water security, flood and drought.” There was an implementation framework for climate change adaptation planning at a watershed scale. That framework was designed and submitted as a document. The framework provides watershed managers with a structured, step-by-step process to identify and reduce climate vulnerability and risk. The group of experts we have pulled together to do that particular project is currently scoping out whether more work could be done under that general topic, particularly under the topics of flood and drought.
The last bit of work the water management committee is involved with is on the development of national water quality guidelines. The specific item it is currently working on is a silver guideline for freshwater aquatic life. It's scoping out what type of guidelines will be needed in the future, for example, with regard to hardness, estrogenic compounds, etc. It's scoping out its priorities and currently developing work plans and budgets.
That group is a long-standing group under CCME. For folks who are really familiar with water quality, it's the group that has developed over the last many years the CCME water quality guidelines that are used around the world.
In terms of the annual report, I would like to end by saying that the water management committee does not manage the waters of Canada, but we develop tools that can be used for water managers. In the annual report submitted under the Canada Water Act, for example, there's a section on water quality across Canada, which uses the water quality index that was developed by the CCME group.
So, there are linkages between the group and what you folks are interested in under the Canada Water Act.