Canadian Geographic
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INSIDE: Sources and uses Go now!

Whereas instream, or natural, water uses in Canada include hydroelectric power generation, shipping, and fisheries, withdrawal uses involve less than three percent of our freshwater, used for domestic and industrial purposes and irrigation.

Water sources and uses

Canada’s freshwater lakes and rivers cover 755,000 square kilometres, a bountiful 7.6 percent portion of the country. This abundance of water, flowing through an interconnecting network of waterways, has spurred Canada’s development. Water provided the early routes for exploration, transportation, settlement, and trade. It is still put to myriad uses: hydroelectric power, shipping, irrigation, fishing, and recreation. Yet any undue future demand may overextend this resource. Many worry our water-rich land may one day export some of its supply to the United States. An overview of Canada’s water already reveals a resource unevenly distributed and under threat. Whether a given region has an abundance or shortage of water is due in part to variations in precipitation. The rainy Pacific Coast enjoys a copious flow of water to the sea, while parched prairie drylands struggle with water deficits. These disparities aside, the pressure from industry and shipping along the Great Lakes and elsewhere pose ever-present pollution concerns.


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Quiz :

How many of every 12 Canadians do not rely on the Great Lakes for water?