Paper: An Analysis of the Value of Water for the Human Species

Having water entails the responsibility to clean it up after its use, before it passes on to the next downstream user or receiver. Water quality is everyone's problem. Nearly everybody relies on municipal water supplies, and our health depends on the quality of these supplies. Canada has been putting this essential service at serious risk, but not paying a realistic price for its provision. The upgrading and repair of a neglected and crumbling municipal water supply and sewage system may cost Canada well above 10 billion dollars. Economic instruments such as water pricing and marketable rights are tools for managing physical water shortage, water quality deterioration and impacts on aquatic ecosystems. The distinction between the pricing of water asa resource and the pricing of water control, transportation and treatment should be recognized and the pricing of the services can be viewed as a valuable tool for revenue generation that can be invested in infrastructure renewal. Canada has one of the world's highest water consumption rates, with an average household using more than 500 litres per day. Half of the water used is wasteful and unnecessary. For comparison, in 1989, the average price paid for municipal water was among the lowest- $0.36/1000 litres (while in USA 0.42, Sweden 0.78, Germany 1.33 and Australia 1.47). We need to pay realistic rates for water services to cover their true costs. Users must recognize the real value of this resource, and it should be used more efficiently and wisely. As usage becomes more efficient, we would produce less sewage and could afford better treatment for it. By increasing the cost of our waste delivery (eg. by doubling the current rate), we could cover the projected 10 billion dollar upgrading costs in only 5 years. Using and managing our water resources - and the environment in general - in such a way that they both maintain a strong economy and preserve a healthy environment should be our overall goal....