Water & Business in Canada Part IV: How to Price Blue Gold? More Dollars Makes More Sense

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Water & Business in Canada Part IV: How to Price Blue Gold? More Dollars Makes More Sense

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"#Water is not like #gold or #oil - it is more precious. Survival is immediately compromised without it" http://bit.ly/GBrkKa @Justmeans
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 9:00pm

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Lately, terms such as "blue gold" and "the new oil" have become popularized in social and conventional media. But water is not like gold or oil - it is more precious. Survival is immediately compromised without enough water, unlike our other precious commodities. In Canada, however, water can be found on the cheap: it's plentiful and for the majority of residents, drinkable. It is no surprise then, that Canadians are the world's largest users of water (litres per day per person) and pay the lowest amount [1]. The cheaper, the better - right? For people and companies, the low cost of water is a disincentive to conserve and can lead to risky business when the well dries up.

The price of water doesn't make the news as often as the price of oil or electricity. However, when a major water main breaks, or a "boil water" advisory is sounded, we all pay attention. The maintenance and sound functioning of infrastructure used for cleaning and delivering water is heavily dependent on the money citizens are willing to pay for it. For manufacturing and mining, withdrawal rates depend on the province, but for the most part, the water bill is no competition for gas or electricity. While paying little for what seems to be a plentiful resource makes perfect business sense, it doesn't always amount to being risk proof. After all, even for industrial users, provincial water agencies are dependent on adequate funding to monitor the levels and overall "health" of a given water source. Lack of funding means lack of experts to ensure there is long-term sustainability of a given water source.

Eau Canada

Simply put, a water conservation ethic is not prevalent in Canada-and price is mostly why. How much do Canadians pay for water? According to Environment Canada's website, Canadians pay an average of $1.26 per 1,000 litres (264.17 US gallons). By contrast, Coca Cola costs $850 for the same volume. The website also adds, "Only tap water includes automatic delivery to the user. This figure includes the cost of waste treatment." [2]

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Meirav Even-Har is a Justmeans staff blogger. She reports on Canadian CSR issues. Meirav is an independent sustainability consultant and writer working in Toronto, Canada.
 

Keywords: Environment | Business Risks | Canada | Canadian Water | Commercial Water Use | Polis Water Sustainability Project | Water Conservation | Water Pricing | water

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