Keeping watch over Canadian water policy

The FLOW Monitor is a periodically published bulletin that provides analysis and perspective by FLOW members and guest commentators on key water issues and public policy solutions. Find individual articles below or view entire issues here.

Irrigation_Gov Alberta Flickr.jpg

A Throne Speech Commitment to Water

September 2020

Alongside public health and economic stimulus measures, the federal government reaffirmed its commitment to establishing a Canada Water Agency in their Speech from the Throne. This is significant. A throne speech commitment demonstrates high priority under normal circumstances; in these extraordinary times, it is even more meaningful.

Water Infrastructure_June 2020_Adobe Sto

Water Infrastructure in a Green Recovery

June 2020

The rush to identify shovel-ready projects must not undermine the bigger opportunity to drive a clean and competitive economy. Investments in water infrastructure, rather than simply replacing aging assets, should prioritize sustainability, resilience, and innovation.

Sunrise_Transformational Moment_NASA.jpg

The Transformational Moment

June 2020

To create a better world, we have to see this moment – the ‘Great Pause’ – as a transformational moment for all life on Earth. To that end, a number of thinkers from across a range of disciplines have created a collaboration titled The Transformational Moment: Global Reset and the Future of Hope.

Citizen Science_Adobe Stock.jpeg

Citizen Science in Full Flight

June 2020

Citizen science is not a new phenomenon. The practice of engaging the public in the collection and assessment of observations related to a particular scientific line of inquiry is a well-established and highly valued practice. But the present generation of citizen science departs from the past in a number of important - and largely positive - ways.  

Canada-US Border_Adobe Stock.jpeg

Innovation at the Border

June 2020

The International Watersheds Initiative is an excellent example of how the International Joint Commission (IJC) has been able to remain innovative and adapt to new water management scenarios. The story of the initiative helps shed light on the importance of the IJC and the direction it needs to go to remain effective in the 21st century.


Revisiting the Mackenzie River Basin Board

June 2020

The Mackenzie River Basin Board was a remarkable governance body when it was established 23 years ago and has proven its worth during that time. But the Board has been neglected and under resourced for far too long. Greater support and attention, as well as some key operational changes, will help ensure the Board is able to remain effective.

Looking Back at Federal Freshwater Leadership

March 2020

Nearly 13 years ago, a diverse group of water experts came together to publish a landmark report that made a compelling case to renew federal focus on freshwater. This group would eventually form FLOW. As we enter a new decade, we take a look back on what has changed – and what has remained the same – since FLOW's founding report was published.   

Modernizing the Canada Water Act

The federal government’s primary freshwater legislation, the Canada Water Act, is nearly 50 years old and far removed from our current water reality. Modernizing the Act is critical to comprehensively redefining federal leadership and helping to prevent Canada’s emerging water crisis.

Testing Transboundary Cooperation

February 2020

The potential release of 1.3 trillion litres of liquid tailings from the oil sands poses an imminent threat to the Athabasca River and the broader Mackenzie River basin beyond. The Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Management Agreement provides an ideal mechanism for the governments of Alberta and Northwest Territories to work together on this issue.

Establishing a Canada Water Agency

The federal government has pledged to establish a new Canada Water Agency and has taken substantive steps to do so. FLOW members are encouraged by these developments and will be following this file closely. This article offers some initial thoughts and key considerations regarding establishment of the Canada Water Agency. 

Review of the National Hydrological Service

February 2020

In the fall of 2017, an 11-member Blue Ribbon Panel (including two FLOW members) was convened to review Canada’s National Hydrological Service (NHS). The Panel’s final report provides advice and recommendations on ten major topics pertaining to the NHS and federal water policy more broadly

Legislating UNDRIP

February 2020

On November 26, 2019, British Columbia made history by becoming the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass legislation implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This legislation will have significant legal and political implications for water governance and will be watched closely across the country.

Lessons from the High Mountain Summit

February 2020

High-mountain areas are unique environments that play a crucial role in water security. The High Mountain Summit, convened in Geneva by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in October 2019, provided a venue for experts from around the world to address data challenges that put high-mountain areas and downstream regions at risk.

LakePulse: A National Portrait of Lake Health

February 2020

Assessing "lake health" across Canada is critical to understanding ecosystem services and their vulnerability to human disturbances. The NSERC Canadian Lake Pulse Network (“LakePulse”) has undertaken an unprecedented Canada-wide assessment to examine how lakes have changed how they may change in the future.

A New "Normal" in the Red River Valley

Climate change is driving a dramatic increase in the frequency and severity of flood events on Manitoba's Red River. As a result, the “normal” that we used to design our flood protection works, our agricultural drainage systems, and other critical infrastructure is no longer a reliable guide.

The FLOW Bookshelf

February 2020

In this edition of the FLOW Bookshelf, find out about four new books (including three by FLOW members) that provide important commentary on water in Canada and beyond.

© 2020 FLOW Canada