NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Getting Canada's Water

January 27, 1999

Canada has plenty of water and not a lot of citizens. The U.S. has plenty of citizens -- particularly in the arid Southwest -- who would like to buy that water. But Canada's environmentalists stand in the way.

  • Canada has 20 percent of the world's fresh water supply -- most of it in the Great Lakes, with the remainder pouring unchecked into three oceans.
  • The U.S. -- with one-tenth of Canada's fresh water -- has a population nearly nine times that of Canada.
  • In 1991, a California company tried to buy water via bulk shipments -- but British Columbia's government intervened and placed a moratorium on such exports.
  • Sun Belt Water, of Santa Monica, has filed suit, citing North American Free Trade Agreement laws.

Sun Belt Water wants $300 million in damages.

Although as much of 60 percent of water is wasted in Canada, anti-NAFTA organizations have teamed up with Canadian environmentalists to argue that replacement rates of water reserves are impossible to calculate.

Source: "There's Plenty Up North," Economist, January 23, 1999.


Browse more articles on Economic Issues