Celebrating the importance of water in Ontario

It’s Canada Water Week and World Water Day! So what’s happening in Ontario’s water sector?

We are blessed with an abundance of freshwater. Ontario, which means “beautiful water”, is home to more than 250,000 lakes, not to mention the numerous rivers, streams and ground water resources. It’s nurtured a strong research and development (R&D) culture in Ontario, supported by policy.

But abundance can also blind you to the precious nature of a resource. Other jurisdictions, like Singapore, Israel and Australia, have very well laid-out conservation, reuse and recycling plans for some years now as part of their water resource management plan. Why? Because they had severe droughts and water shortage crises and had to do something in order to survive and provide clean water to their population.

We may not have to deal with such a water crisis in Ontario for generations, but we have the moral and environmental responsibility to show our future generations that this resource should not be taken for granted. I think this shift in thinking — this change — can only come from the grassroots level.

In that context, I was pleasantly surprised this past week to receive a special magazine in the mail from York region. The magazine, “Our Water Future”, was filled with articles from people around Canada and US, from organizations like the Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation, POLIS Water sustainability project, Brock University, Alliance for Water Efficiency (Chicago) and the Banff Centre. The articles covered everyday efficiencies to global change to educate and empower people to conserve water (you can download the magazine from York Region’s openwater.ca website).

But policy has a place in this, too. The government of Ontario, understanding the importance of this precious resource, passed the “Water Opportunities Act” in November, 2010.

The Water Opportunities Act will:

  • Make Ontario the North American leader in the development and sale of water conservation and treatment technologies
  • Encourage sustainable infrastructure and conservation planning using made-in-Ontario technologies to solve water, waste water and storm water infrastructure challenges
  • Encourage all Ontarians to use water more wisely

Key to delivering these outcomes is the creation of the Water Technology Acceleration Project (WaterTAP) to support research and development as well as the commercialization of new technologies and innovations in Ontario’s water sector.

The act also:

  • Creates partnerships to develop water innovation among universities, colleges, industry, entrepreneurs and Ontario’s government
  • Strengthens water efficiency and sustainable water planning for municipalities
  • Helps Ontarians use water more efficiently

It is clear to me that this two-pronged approach, along with municipalities playing an empowering role within their communities, will ensure a sustainable outcome for us all.

MaRS has the privilege of working with entrepreneurs and researchers who will help make this vision come true with their water conservation and treatment technologies.

Some companies of to watch:

  1. Xogen Technologies – Waste water treatment technology
  2. Hydromantis – Water and waste water treatment software and engineering
  3. Echologics (a division of Mueller Co.) – A MaRS client with acoustic technology for leak detection in pipes

Now, if only someone could help me figure out how to get my son out of the shower before he uses up the whole tank of hot water every morning, I will be most grateful.

Be sure to download our reports on this burgeoning sector in Ontario:

Usha Srinivasan

Usha Srinivasan leads a team dedicated to nurturing the talents of Ontario entrepreneurs through a range of diverse programs, including the Business Acceleration Program, Data Catalyst and Studio Y. See more…