UN World Water Day 2014
This year on March 22, dive right into connections between energy and water for the United Nations’ 21st annual World Water Day.
This year’s theme brings special attention to the relationships between water and energy, with an emphasis on creating a worldwide policy dialogue about water preservation and protection in the energy industry.
Canada is the most water rich nation on the planet possessing more than a 20 per cent share of the world’s fresh water supply and seven per cent of the world’s renewable water. As such, Canadians have a responsibility to be aware of how industry, particularly the energy industry, affects our valuable water resources.
Here’s a look at how water is used in parts of Canada’s energy industry. For reference, an Olympic-sized swimming pool has a volume of 25,000 cubic metres.
Approximately 173 million cubic metres of fresh water are used every year to produce oil in Alberta’s oilsands.
For every barrel of oil produced, an average of 3.1 barrels of fresh water is used. Mining for fossil fuels not only uses water, it contaminates it. Although 80 per cent of the water in tailings ponds can be used again in mining processes, it becomes contaminated with oil, killing fish and threatening birds.
Water is used to drill wells for extracting natural gas. For a conventional natural gas reservoir, 400 to 600 cubic metres of water are pumped into the ground, allowing natural gas to escape from rock. In order to produce a more difficult to reach well, or an unconventional reservoir, a total of 5,000 to 110,000 cubic metres of fresh water is needed to extract the gas.
In the production of nuclear energy, water is used to slow down neutrons and acts as a coolant.
A single Canadian nuclear power plant will use 95,000 to 227,000 litres of water for every megawatt hour (MWh) of power produced.
Hydropower accounts for 62 per cent of Canada’s electricity production. The creation of dams and reservoirs changes the flow of rivers and floods land, having a great affect on surrounding communities and ecosystems.
These energy sources are vital to Canada’s economy and maintaining Canadians’ quality of life, and water is necessary for the production of these resources. As the global population increases and energy demand grows, it is important for industries to continue to come up with innovative ways to save water and for all Canadians to conserve water on a daily basis.
What will you do to conserve water this World Water Day?