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April 21, 2018

Let’s work together to protect our water and highlight its importance


By Isabelle Melançon

Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change

 

Source: HuffPost

Three percent of our planet’s reserves of renewable fresh water can be found in Québec. Considered ‘blue gold’ and a source of collective pride, fresh water covers 10% of Québec’s land. It runs through tens of thousands of rivers and in over three million bodies of water. Preserving its abundance and quality is a challenge. As guardians of this precious resource, we have chosen to implement integrated watershed management in order to benefit both present and future generations. We have challenged ourselves to promote responsibility and cooperation between the population and the groups concerned with water and aquatic ecosystems by way of collaborative partnerships.

Watershed organizations and regional working groups throughout Québec play key roles in this field. For this reason, I recently announced that our government would offer sustainable funding to these collaborative organizations working on the ground.

In fact, as part of this historic budget for the environment, which included an increase of 29%, our government added $30 million over three years to support the global mission of Québec’s 40 watershed organizations and the organization that represents them, the Regroupement des Organismes de Bassins Versants du Québec (ROBVQ). In addition, $5 million over five years will enable the watershed organizations to carry out their already approved water master plans, and eventually, for the regional working groups to implement the regional integrated management plans they are preparing for segments along the Saint Lawrence River. These indispensable planning tools focus on local action plans to respond directly to the particular challenges of each region’s watershed.

Life on our planet came from water, and it is by protecting water that we will preserve life.

I am very happy to have been able to apprise these indispensable partners of their importance in Québec’s integrated water management system. Every day, these groups are on the ground, working to mobilize players in the field: businesspeople, the agricultural sector, industry, elected municipal representatives, community groups and citizens’ groups, and First Nations communities. By guaranteeing funding that lives up to their mission, we have taken a big step towards integrated water management in Québec.

Water and the ecosystems it harbours benefit us every day, for free, without us even realising it. However, we are currently facing many water-related issues. Just think of new pollutants such as plastic, riverbank erosion, wetland and aquatic ecosystem degradation, flooding, and the arrival of invasive species.

Faced with these challenges, we are lucky to have the vigilance and hard work of the watershed organizations and regional working groups. They have expert knowledge of our waterways and bodies of water. They recognize water’s various uses and can reconcile differing opinions on which actions to prioritize. Not only do they preserve water, but they highlight its importance.

With these dynamic organizations by my side, I will be able to launch the Québec Water Strategy in 2018. I am confident that this will give us the means to respond to the challenges we are facing. Societal changes are needed in order to further protect our water resources and fight the climate change that threatens them. Life on our planet came from water, and it is by protecting water that we will preserve life.

There has never been a government that has done more for the environment: the implementation of the Zero-Emission Vehicles Standard, the Soil Protection and Rehabilitation of Contaminated Sites Policy, the Act respecting the conservation of wetlands and bodies of water, the new Environment Quality Act and the implementation of the Quebec Pesticide Strategy are just a few examples. The last budget tabled by my colleague, Minister of Finance Carlos Leitão, gives us the means to continue in the same vein.

On the eve of Earth Day, facing these environmental challenges, let us go further: further for our climate, and further for biodiversity, with each of our actions joining the global movement fighting climate change. I invite the entire population of Québec to join this movement. TOGETHER, we can make a difference, decrease our carbon footprint, and create a new, greener Québec.

 

Isabelle Melançon
Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change