Water plays an important role in both Canada and the United states. Both Canadians and Americans are considered to be the world’s most consumers of water. They use 100 gallons per day per person which are mostly lost in toilets and bath drains. Moreover, their usage of drinking fresh water is three times higher than that in Europe. Water also plays an essential role in agriculture in which irrigation is considered to be the biggest user of water. It accounts for 80% of water consumption.
The case began when the Canadian public started to
become more concerned about the huge artificial diversion of fresh water
into the southern regions such as the United States and Mexico. They believe
that such an artificial diversion is the most damaging way to the Canadian
environment and social identity. Especially with the increasing demand
of southern urban industrial and agricultural. In 1985, the Canadian Federal
government released a report including nine water diversions from
Canadian basins. Furthermore, the North American Water and Power Alliance
(NAWPA) recognized a huge diverted fresh water from the Canadian rivers
to the Great lakes and Mississippi in the United States. These huge artificial
diversions of water led the federal government to pursued the Canadian
provinces to place a dam on fresh water exports.
Recently, the Canadian government has announced a strategy to prohibit the bulk water exports from Canadian basins. Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy and Environment Minister Christine Stewart announced in reply to the Canadian concerns about the security of their water resources.
The new strategy includes the followings issues:
a) Federal government must be given the regulatory power to ban the massive water exports especially from
Canada’s great lakes boundaries by altering the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act (IBWTA).
b) A mutual study about the influence of water usage, diversions, and export with the United States should take place at
The International Joint Commission (IJC) which will provide a variety of recommendations for both countries on the
management and protection of shared water.
c) Canadian provinces and territories must work together and adapt to that moratorium in order to protect their
Canada’s natural resources from the huge water removal .
The Canadian government argues that its strategy consistently meets the free trade agreements. It insists on the statement of Canada, The United States, and Mexico agreement in 1993 which states that “ unless water in any form has entered into commerce and become a good or product, it is not covered by the provisions of any trade agreement, including the NAFTA.”
Trade specialists argue that Canada is attempting to avoid getting their water exports involved under the NAFTA. That is they fear that one day the Canadian fresh water will be considered as a tangible good rather than an important natural resource if one single shipload is to be made. In October, 1992 the Mulroney government released its environmental review of the NAFTA. It state, that “ the large-scale movement of water was neither raised nor negotiated during the NAFTA negotiations. While Rawson Aquatic Institute stated in their Analysis on water exports under the NAFTA that “ Canadian water exports are not exempt or excluded from the provisions of NAFTA, it also appears that indirect controls on water exports are made more difficult through NAFTA’s general investment and national treatment provisions.” Moreover, many trade specialists see the new moratorium as a temporary case in which Ottawa and the provinces need time to devise a coherent water policy and pricing strategy.
Some provinces such as. British Columbia and Alberta have already took serious actions towards this issue. While Ontario’s regulation about this issue is still in progress.
A clear example of the ban was when the province of British Columbia imposed a complete halt on water shiploads to California. Sun Belt Water Inc. of Santa Barbara who used to have a permit to ship water in the mid 1990s to California was deprived from having this permit. Thus, Sun Belt now seeks compensation of $220 million from Canadian governments and filed a complaint under chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Another example was when the Environment Minister announced in May 14,1998 that the water-taking permit given to Ontario-based company was cancelled. That permit allowed the company to transfer water from Lake Superior to Asia. Furthermore, Ontario was stopped from selling three billion liters of Lake Superior water to a customer in Asia.
As the world’s rate of water use increases, environmentalists and economists argue that fresh water will be the most important source in the next few decades. They agree that many nations will be suffering a severe shortages in fresh water.
3. Related Cases
1) ARAL SEA case
2) ISRAELH2O case
3) COLORADO RIVER case
4) Ataturk Dam and Water case
(1): Domain = North America
(2): Bio-geography = DRY
(3): Environmental Problem = WATER
b. Geographic Site: North East.
c. Geographic Impact: The United States of America.
b. Indirectly Related to Product: No
c. Not Related to Product: No
d. Related to Process: YES-WATER
DePALMA, A. Mar 7, 1999. Free Trade in Fresh Water? Canada Says "No". The New York Times
Lewington, P. Jan, 1991. Water Exports. http://web.lexis-nexis.com/universe Vol.98; No.1; Pg.40
Lake Superior water-taking permit being cancelled. May 14, 1998. http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision-news/05/98.htm
Nickerson, C. Mar 4, 1999. Water-rich Canada shuts the spigot. Financial Times
NPD demands action to stop sale of Ontario’s water. Dec 3,1998. http://www.ndp.on.ca/press_release/dec_98/12_03_98_water.html
Sullivan, D. March, 1993. NAFTA Drinks Canada dry. http://web.lexis-nexis.com/universe
Vol.27; No.2; Pg.16