Water quantity

Depending on where you are in Canada, changes to the amount of water in rivers, lakes, wetlands and aquifers has different effects on the environment, human health and the economy. The amount of water available for human use is strongly linked to factors that affect water supply, including climate change and weather patterns, and factors that affect water demand, including population levels, human development, and individual and industrial activity. Individually, these factors may pose low risk to water quantity, however, when combined, they could bring increased risk of ecological, social and economic impacts. For example, excessive water flow can increase soil erosion and flooding can cause damages to key infrastructure such as bridges, while drought can have negative impacts on agriculture, incidences of wildfires, and biodiversity.

Learn more about changes to water quantity: drivers and impacts.

Water quality

Water quality is determined by the kinds and amounts of substances dissolved and suspended in water. For example, substances that may affect the inhabitants of an ecosystem may include sediment, fertilizers, or chemicals.

Factors that affect water quality include:

  • Substances (solid or gas) present in the air that can dissolve into/be absorbed by/mix with rainfall.
  • Substances present on earth’s surface in soil and rocks that can be dissolved into rain runoff.
  • Runoff from urban areas.
  • Industrial, farming, mining, and forestry activities.
  • Substances entering the marine environment, including deposition at sea.

Learn more about water indicators

Access Water Content

The map below illustrates an example of water quality data available through the Open Science and Data Platform.

Click on the button below to access this data and other water related content.

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Water Quality at Monitoring Sites in Canada

This map is for illustrative purposes. The markers represent the approximate locations based on available data. The Government of Canada shall not be held liable for any third party’s interpretation of the Information. The Government of Canada reserves the right to change or revise the Information at any time.

This data was produced by Environment and Climate Change Canada. The water quality in Canadian rivers indicators provide a measure of the ability of river water across Canada to support plants and animals. At each monitoring site, water quality data are compared to water quality guidelines to create a rating for the site. If measured water quality is below the guidelines, it can maintain a healthy ecosystem. Water quality at a monitoring site is considered excellent when substances in a river are very rarely measured above their guidelines. Conversely, water quality is rated poor when measurements are usually above their guidelines, sometimes by a wide margin.

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