While we have been lucky to have so much fresh water available in Quebec, others across the world are not as lucky. Only 2.5% of the water in the world is fresh, and ⅔ of this freshwater is unavailable since it is locked up in glaciers and in inaccessible locations. The remaining third is what supports the entire world’s population. Unfortunately, this water isn’t distributed evenly and is increasingly polluted; the UN estimates that 2.1 billion people lack access to safe and reliable water.
In Quebec, just like everywhere in the world, climate change is making this stressed resource even less reliable. Increasing temperatures are predicted to make droughts more common and intense, which threatens agriculture, ecosystems, and our ability to use water for other basic day-to-day needs. At the same time, storms are likely to become more intense, which will increase flooding especially in the springtime and low-lying areas. To meet global targets, like the UN’s sustainable development goal #6 (clean water and sanitation), we need to adapt our water use to make it efficient, cleaner, and reliable, in a large part by reducing our use to avoid stressing the water infrastructure system.