As nations around the globe enter the 21st century, one of the most pressing concerns facing each is the notion of sustainable development. Sustainable development, simply put, refers to maintaining a rate of industrialization which minimizes the destruction of the environment. And while issues such as the price and accessibility of crude oil dominate trade talks and newspaper headlines, there is an ever-more important concern emerging: access to water.
Despite its relatively small population size (approximately 30 million), Canada is one of the largest consumers of water on a per capita basis. Only the United States exceeds Canada's rate of consumption. In his article, Water from the Ground, Peter Gorrie writes that Canada uses "an estimated 1.5 billion cubic meters of [water] each year", (Gorrie 71). And while Canadians are for the most part are unaware of how much water they consume, they are even less aware of its presence around them.
For water is an immense natural resource that rests not only around Canadians, but beneath their feet as well.
In no region is this more pervasive than in the province of Ontario. Ontarians walk above groundwater supplies everyday, without the slightest notion of the extent to which they rely on this over-used and exploited natural resource. Canada as a whole "has far more water underground than on the surface - perhaps 65 times more than in surface lakes and streams",(Gorrie 70-71), and the same holds true for Ontario. Outside of the major urban centres which rely predominantly on surface sources for their water, most of Ontario relies on groundwater supplies. Although these groundwater supplies are abundant, not all are usable. In some cases the water has been polluted - as is the case in Elmira - and in others it is simply unpalatable because of high...