UK water rules sign of future for Canada’s farmers?

irrigationsmA new strategy on water usage in agriculture unveiled by Britain’s Environment Agency paints a potentially grim picture for farmers.

This according to a report in Farmers Weekly, a leading British agricultural publication. The strategy includes tighter restrictions on agricultural irrigation as well as increased costs for water recycling and construction of on-farm reservoirs.

It is in response to an estimated future decrease in the amount of available water in the UK as a result of both climate change and a projected population increase.

There is concern from the agricultural sector that farmers will be left to bear the cost burden of these changes alone without support from the government.

Here in Ontario, water rules have already been tightening on everything from quality to bottling to farm irrigation, although not to the extent of what is being proposed in the UK. Reactions so far in this province have been mixed, conflicted between a general understanding of the importance of availability of clean water and the realities of the costs associated with it.

As Canadians, we’ve always thought of ourselves as a country with plenty of access to water, yet that may not be the case even for us down the road. Our population is also growing and we will also feel the effects of our world’s changing climate.

We generally tend to take water for granted, surrounded as we are by so much of it, but this new strategy unveiled in the UK could be a sign of things to come for us as well.

Will we ultimately see similar regulations and limitations here in Canada? And what’s the answer to balancing the need to conserve water with the equally important need of an available food supply?

Photo source: US Fish and Wildlife Service

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