Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Issue 9 - Evidence - Afternoon meeting
CALGARY, Tuesday, March 8, 2005
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources met this day at 1:35 p.m. to
examine and report on emerging issues related to its mandate.
Senator Tommy Banks (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: I call the meeting to order.
Our guests are Dr. Dennis Fitzpatrick, who is the vice president of research for the Water Institute for Semi-arid
Ecosystems and Hester Jiskoot, who is an assistant professor at the University of Lethbridge. Ms. Jiskoot is a
glaciologist, a term I have not heard before, and for that reason, I suggested that we ask her to come and talk to us.
There has been much reference made to glaciers during our committee hearings here in the West and I am sure
committee members will have many questions for both of our witnesses.
Mr. Dennis Fitzpatrick, Vice-President, Research, Water Institute for Semi-arid Ecosystems: I am going to make my
comments very personal in nature, because I take water very personally.
When we talk about the Alberta watershed that is what we do: We talk about problems with the watershed here in
Alberta. That is a real issue with me, because Alberta does not have a watershed. Alberta is the home of the western
When the snow drops in the mountains of Alberta, some of that snow is destined to flow into Hudson Bay and the
Nelson River. This is an integrated vein; it runs across the west of Canada.
When I talk to my friends in Alberta about Alberta issues, these are not just Alberta issues; these are the footprints
of Western Canada. It is also the footprint of western agriculture because water and agriculture run hand to hand.
I was at the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association meeting last week and I listened to people give a status report on
the western watershed. I heard that water is over-allocated, which is the basic issue that everyone is facing in this era;
our allocations in the water that feeds irrigation and agriculture have gone too far.
At the meeting, I heard a great deal about our area and our semi-arid ecosystem and the problems related to it. I
recall the analogy: Is the glass half full or half empty? The issue with me is that while we are in a semi-arid ecosystem
the water that we have within the system is so incredibly productive and so incredibly well used that we should be
focussing more on the upside of this issue than the downside of this issue.
I know it is a bit different view than most people have. People from irrigation talk about the uncertainties in
irrigation and they talk about the huge uncertainties that climate change will cause. They wonder how we will cope
with all of the changes. Well, we are going to learn, we are going to adapt and we are going to manage.
As we learn to adapt we will have to find a blend between the knowledge that science has concerning the
management of water and how water affects our very environment and the ecosystem in which we live.
Is urban growth going to collide with the way we use the water and the way we do agriculture?
Will one area of society be pitted against another?
It was a very interesting meeting because the manager of the largest water district said that if urban growth comes up
against agricultural use, urban growth will win, and water will fuel the economy.
On the other hand, the productive use of water in agriculture, and how it fuels economic growth was the point made
someone from the Eastern Irrigation District.
My observation is that at that particular moment there was a communication problem and a lack of respect between
the two parties.
I do not want to get too far into the sociology of it, but do we understand water, and do we really understand the
value of water?
Do we understand how cities and rural communities use and need water?
It seems to me that while we continue to look at the issues from a single point of view we will always be in a lose-lose
situation, rather than a win-win situation. Whether you are a city dweller or an urban dweller, until we get a forum in
which the two groups can start speaking to each other, we will never find a solution.
The way I look at this is that we have to start thinking of water as the provider of the infrastructure for life. We have
to start looking at water not as how it comes out of a tap; we have to look at its relationship to the environment.
I wanted to call to people's attention to the notion of ``natural capital'' and the notion that the environment around
us is a major asset that we need to understand much better than we do.
Now, I have been in universities all my life, it seems. It was kind of like running away to the circus. At 18, I ran
away, went to university, and never went home. My mother still shakes her hand at that notion.
One of the things that we have to do is move beyond the theoretical to look at the environment, water, agriculture,
and environmental goods and services. I am going to put to you that we have to move beyond the science of water into
the social aspects of water.
We all understand the value of urban growth. We look at Calgary, and we look at how cities grow and how the
economy changes. We do not understand how city growth affects our environment and affects those things within the
environment that make life worthwhile.
We attack our problems: We drain a swamp; we lose the purification power of that swamp; we lose it as a habitat.
That has a specific cost to it.
If we were to develop the road between here and Banff, fully develop it, fully house it, how many people would go
up to enjoy the scenery?
How many people would Canada draw to Banff?
One of our last assets is natural capital and the environment. Yet, we do not fully understand the issue.
I have been in universities for 25 years. I have heard people discuss environmental goods and services. One of the big
challenges is that unless we start evaluating the environment, in some way, shape, or form, we will not understand what
growth is costing us. The public certainly does not understand what growth is costing us.
I am going to close by saying I am very pleased that you are here, out in the West, listening to our water concerns.
Three weeks ago, I was in Ottawa. I was sitting with a research branch for one of the major federal groups. We were
talking to them about developing a program around water, to communicate with the public. To be quite honest, when
you are sitting on the banks of the Ottawa River and you are sitting in a place with enough water for forests to grow,
you just do not get it when someone comes in and says that three out of the last four years there has been a terrible
Look at what is happening in B.C.: We have a drought in the interior; we have too much rain on the outside. We
have earth slides coming off the mountains. We really have to think of water and the environment in a different way.
The Water Institute for Semi-Arid Ecosystems is an organization that we have put in place at the University of
Lethbridge. The institute's focus is to ensure that the southern environmental sector's needs, most especially their water
needs are met.
I am going to throw this open, right now. I do not know whether you want to hear from Ms.Jiskoot before you start
questions, because it seems like a free-flowing kind of discussion, to me.
Ms. Hester Jiskoot, Assistant Professor, University of Lethbridge, as an individual: Well, thanks very much for
inviting me to talk about this important issue.
I will first explain: I am a glaciologist, and my specialty is in glacial dynamics. I study how glaciers flow, glacier
environment interaction and glacier climate interaction.
I have done research in arctic and alpine regions in the northern hemisphere. I also have students who do work on
snow research. I know a little bit about what I am going to talk about today.
During the first 25 years of my life, I lived in the Netherlands, which is below sea level and has a lot of rainfall and
moisture surplus. We never had our feet dry, so to speak. The affect of climate change is very different from the
Netherlands and Western Canada. The Netherlands has a problem with the sea level rise; and what we have here is a
problem with drought, in some sense.
I sent to you a four-page manuscript, and I will pinpoint the major points that I would like to make.
The first point is that only about 2.5 per cent of the world's water is fresh water, and two-thirds of that water is
locked up in glaciers and ice sheets. ``Locked up,'' means it is stored for a while. Glaciers store water in different ways
and for different lengths of periods. A glacier can store water for just a day, a short-term period. It can intercept some
falling rain and delay that rain for a day before it gets into the rivers. Glaciers can also store water for years or even up
to millennia, in terms of ice sheets. When the water is locked up in glacier ice, it stays there for a long time before it is
released. As long as it stays there, we cannot use it as drinking water; you have to melt it, of course.
Rivers that have their headwaters in a glaciated area get a fairly constant and dependable supply of water
throughout the year because the glacier is slowly melting. All the water that is stored and that eventually gets into a
river is ``base flow.'' This is in contrast to ``quick flow,'' which is the direct response to rain or snowmelt.
In the late summer season, when we do not have that much rainfall and little snow left in the mountains, a lot of the
base flow of the rivers comes from the glacier flow.
How much water does a glacier provide when it is melting in a normal way? A small glacier, a 1-square-kilometre-
area glacier, drains about one cubic metre per second, or 86 million litres of water per day.
A glacier does not melt for one day but for a whole melt season, and the melt season is usually from July until
September, three months. That glacier supplies 25 million people with one day of water or supplies 71,000 people for a
whole year, factoring in that the normal domestic use per Canadian are 300 litres per day.
A small glacier can supply the entire city of Lethbridge, which has a population of 73,000, for one year.
The Chairman: For as long as the glacier lasts.
Ms. Jiskoot: For as long as the glacier lasts. At the same time, snow feeds a glacier, and if the snow is not melting
more than it is accumulating then the glacier becomes unbalanced. It is not just when a glacier melts; it is how it melts.
How many glaciers do we have that feed into Western Canada and Alberta and then, eventually, into the provinces
in the West and in the North? Some of the glaciers eventually flow into the Arctic Sea as well.
We have just over 1,300 glaciers on the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains, and they cover an area of about
1,000 square kilometres. Those glaciers provide more than 7,000 billion litres of water per year, which is only about 6
per cent of the base flow of all the rivers. If we take all of the water that flows out of Alberta, 6 per cent of that comes
from glacial melt. You might think that is not very much, but in late summer, some glaciers provide 50 per cent of one
river's base flow. How important the glacial melt is to the rivers really depends on the time of year.
With the climate change that is going on now, there is a four-fold effect on water supply. The first effect is
diminished snow precipitation; less snow in the mountains means less water in the rivers.
The second effect is that the snow is melting earlier, so the peak of the runoff in the rivers occurs earlier. This early
runoff is not very effective for agriculture because before the plants are grown, you need higher temperatures. In fact,
we want that peak a little bit later in the year, rather than earlier.
The third effect is shrinking glaciers. The smaller a glacier becomes the less water it will supply. The glaciers in the
Canadian Rockies, in the last hundred years, have already lost 25 per cent of their area, and there is a lot less water
available now than in the last century.
The fourth effect is an increased evapotranspiration; evaporation increases as the temperature increases. We see
water evaporating before we can use it.
I can illustrate this point with some numbers that I have in my report. I do not know if you want to hear some strict
In the last century, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, the IPCC, calculated that the global
temperature has gone up .6oC in the last century. There is no doubt that there is some global warming happening, not
only in terms of temperature but also in terms of the melting of permafrost, melting of the glaciers, earlier spring melt,
and the migration of plants and animals. There is a lot of corroborative evidence for this climate change.
As I said, this has already caused 25 per cent of the glacier area to disappear. If the temperature in the Canadian
Rockies rises by 1.4oC, which is not very much, then all of the glaciers will disappear by 2050. This is a rapid effect, and
it is not something that we can ignore, because we still depend on some of that water to flow into our rivers.
A good illustration is the glaciers in Glacier National Park. Some of those glaciers are feeding into the Oldman
River basin. In 1850, there were 150 glaciers in Glacier National Park; now, there are only 35 left. The 35 remaining
glaciers have only 17 square kilometres left.
There is a prediction that by 2030 there will not be any glaciers left. Maybe then we will have to change the name of
Glacier National Park because there will not be any glaciers left.
Another thing that we have measured is the timing of the spring snowmelt. In the next 20 years, it is predicted that
the spring snowmelt will come forward by five to 10 days; and in the following 20 years, it will be 25 days, almost a
month earlier by 2050. That is something that we have to react to, as well.
We have also measured that the winter snowfall has dramatically diminished in the last 30 years. Yesterday, I looked
on the Internet to update some of the figures that I gave you in the report.
The Government of Alberta has a website with snow pillow data of permanent snow measurement sites. What we
see is that in the Bow River, the snow conditions are normal. The Oldman River, because there are not that many
glaciers in that region, depends on snowmelt and is 0 per cent to 71 per cent below average. So some places do not have
any snow at this time of year, whereas in the previous 25 years, there was at least a metre of snow. Most of the places
have less than 70 per cent of the normal snowpack. The weather and climate predictions for the next couple of months
tell the same story, so we are quite sure that a big April snow dump will not compensate for this situation.
Reduced snow cover, earlier melt, and disappearing glaciers, all have an effect on the runoff of the rivers. We have
to know that agriculture and the domestic and industrial sectors use mostly surface water; they do not use very much
groundwater. Only 2.5 per cent of the water that we use comes from groundwater, so the early snowmelt, less snow and
melting glaciers, affect the surface water that we use everyday.
I have given you a graph that illustrates what is happening. On the graph, you can see the earlier runoff peak for the
snowmelt and no runoff in the late melt season. In late July and August, when there is little rainfall, you can see that
there is little runoff; this is the time when the agricultural sector requires more water. During this period, the river levels
can become so low that we cannot make use of the water in them.
I know there is some research going on in terms of trying to get some more water from the groundwater supply,
because there is some groundwater available, but we do not know exactly what will happen, if we take water out of that
Senator Milne: What we are looking at here is a black and white presentation of that graph. It is very difficult to see
which line means which, because they both look the same and you do not know where they are crossing, which the
upper one is, and which is lower. I am assuming the earlier spring runoff is the projected one, the higher one, the lower
The Chairman: The lower one.
Ms. Jiskoot: The lower one is the present one.
Senator Milne: Which one.
Ms. Jiskoot: The earlier spring runoff is the projected one.
Senator Milne: Yes, but I am looking at two lines here that say ``Present flow'' and ``Projected flow.'' So I am
looking at the earlier spring flow.
Which of those two lines that rises steeply is which?
Ms. Jiskoot: The spring runoff that is earlier is the projected one, and the spring runoff that is later is the present
Senator Milne: Okay. The other way, it is reversed.
Ms. Jiskoot: It is reversed.
With the figures that we have, there is a bit of a problem with glaciers. We do not know exactly how thick some of
the glaciers are. We measure the thickness of the Athabasca Glacier and the Columbia Glacier, but there is a lack of
data for many of the other glaciers. We cannot exactly calculate the volume. We know that the Athabasca and
Columbia Glaciers are more than 500 metres thick in their centre parts, and we can calculate volume, of course.
With the data that we have, I can predict that the late summer base flow in the rivers will be 70 per cent less than it is
now. This number is not only valid for this area, but researchers in Europe and in the U.S. have also calculated that
about 70 per cent of that late summer base flow is from glaciers.
I have some general recommendations that you can read in my research. I would like to mention that we do not have
enough long-term data; the federal government cut the funding that we had for longitudinal studies.
Since the 1970s, we have measure only two Canadian glaciers: the Peyto Glacier in the Rocky Mountains, and White
Glacier in Nunavut. Both glaciers have very long records, but it is not good to base our predictions on a population of
thousands of glaciers on just two glaciers.
The other thing is that when I look at the Oldman River basin study group or the South Saskatchewan River basin
study group, glaciers are not included in the data. People tend to think that because the glacier runoff is only 2 per cent
of the total runoff that it is unimportant to their findings. I feel that we have to incorporate glacier-melt data into the
management reports, especially for the late summer findings.
I think Dennis Fitzpatrick just mentioned that we are nicely using all of the water we have. We do not have more
water than we can use. If cities and agriculture continue to develop, we have to reduce the water usage for each of those
We have to do something about water-use optimization. I feel we can do that in two different ways. We can do
something like water conservation: try to use less per capita, and use it more efficiently. That means we have to develop
technologies; we have to try to promote those technologies; and make it cool that people do not use 300 litres of water
I know there is now a federal campaign going on about the One-Tonne Challenge, and I feel that maybe we can do
another, like a 100-litre challenge, that people use 100 litres less, by implementing very small technological changes,
maybe changes in their life styles, but it does not need to cost anything.
This is the end of my formal presentation, and I think we can have some questions for us, now.
The Chairman: Thank you both very much.
Senator Spivak: Mr. Fitzpatrick, can you tell us how much of the southern Prairies are semi-arid. I am from
Manitoba, in the Red River Valley. What are the special water-related challenges that you are facing?
Mr. Fitzpatrick: ``Semi-arid'' is a misnomer. We are not even dry enough to be semi-arid right now.
The ecosystem that we are talking about runs from the interior of B.C. right through to Winnipeg. The Winnipeg
agricultural belt faces the same challenges and some of the same management issues: Your irrigation potato farming is
the same as our irrigation potato farming. The effects on the environment are exactly the same effects.
Senator Spivak: Are you saying that there is not a semi-arid ecosystem right now?
Mr. Fitzpatrick: No, we were talking about the lowest area in which the water sustains agriculture. We have taken
``semi-arid'' as the technical definition. We would have to reduce the water by about 20 per cent to get to that point.
The issues that we are facing are all the same issues. I think Ms. Jiskoot will agree with me on this one: One of the
things that we get into in water research is that most people who are interested in water research are interested in water
within the riparian system, which is the river system. We have some interests in drinking water. The effects of water and
climate change on the terrestrial ecosystem, where we grow all of our crops, will be profound in the future.
Imagine a regimen of cropping that requires constant change in the application of fertilizers. Imagine having to
change your management schedule to face intermittent pests and intermittent drought conditions.
The terrestrial impact of climate change and water within any of the research sectors are not well defined. The Swift
Current Research Centre sits in the middle of the province, in a very dry region, doing some of this work.
I do not think anybody who looks at the Canadian research scene would say that anybody is looking at the
terrestrial impact of water and climate change in any meaningful way. When you consider that this is the food basket
of Canada, it needs to be addressed.
Senator Spivak: If there is no glacier melt, how is that going to affect the Red River water basin?
Mr. Fitzpatrick: The Red River water basin is a different system. The water being let go in the glaciers here ends up
flowing through the northern rivers in Manitoba, through the Nelson and they do not come into the Assiniboine River
or the Red River system.
Senator Spivak: Oh, they do not come into the Assiniboine.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: No, they do not come into the Assiniboine.
Senator Spivak: They are not in the Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba system.
Ms. Jiskoot: The South Saskatchewan River gets water from the Bow River.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: The issue is that no matter where the water comes from, we will face the same water-related issues.
If you look at the wheat crop in Manitoba, you will see that the crop grows because of the timing of precipitation. If
you look at the rainfall in the spring season and in the growth period, the temporal sequence of rain in Manitoba
allows it to be more successful than it should be on a regular basis. It is a drought-related system.
Senator Spivak: Well, then, I have to ask you both.
In northern Manitoba, there is a planned schedule of further hydro development, and that is about ten years away.
It affects Ontario, because the reason for the hydro development is to sell power, or to unite with the Ontario grid.
Are those plans reasonable in terms of what may occur within a period when there will not be a glacier melt?
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Well, the glacier melt is not largely feeding those northern rivers to which you refer.
Senator Spivak: I thought you said they did.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Only a small amount of the water comes into that system.
We are talking about almost two different things. The glaciers are important, especially during the spring and the
summer when they release water into the system to keep it physiologically alive.
We talk about the concept of instream flow needs, which are those things that keep the water temperature down to a
point where there is enough dissolved oxygen for fish to live in.
When we talk about glaciers, we refer to the small amount of water that goes to the rivers each year. Even though
the glacier supplies a small amount of water, it is important because at that time of the year there is very little water
available from other sources. That issue is often difficult to understand.
Now, when is peak demand for power going on? Largely, the northern-flowing rivers in Manitoba are going to be
damming, and they are going to be storing water throughout the year to meet these water requirements. The dams to
which you referred were put on hold, 10 to 15 years ago, because they were not economically viable for Ontario,
because Ontario was going to pay for them. They paid for the dams then, and they are paying for them now, again,
because of changes in management regimes. I do not think the glacier loss or the loss of the glacier flow is going to
impact significantly on their ability to store water.
We must ask the question whether the cost benefit of storing the water will be worth the change in the ecosystem in
Look at the James Bay Project and the way that has changed the whole use of the land in James Bay. You must
understand that water has a different heat capacity than land and it changes the dynamics of an entire area.
I think it goes back to the idea of the environment and the value of that environment. I do not have an answer to
that, because I have not seen anyone analyse the value of a pristine environment to the economy and to the well-being
of society. If you spend a weekend in Banff or you go down to Waterton Park and you go along the Elk River, you see
this incredible influx of people who come to Canada because of its identity as a pristine ecosystem and valuable
recreational space. The same kinds of people go into northern Manitoba and go fishing.
We have to use these kinds of analyses when we make these choices because these choices are forever.
Senator Spivak: We already have quite significant evidence of the changes that the hydro development has made to
the ecosystem and you are quite right.
Dr. Jiskoot, how would you characterize the long-term impact of climate change and the glaciers? How is climate
change affecting the availability of water in this part of the country?
Is that part of your research?
Ms. Jiskoot: No. In fact, water supply is not a big part of my research. Last summer, I measured some runoff in the
Kananaskis and quantified it to see what kind of delaying effect it has on rainfall. In fact, I am not a glaciologist that is
a specialist in the water supply. Of course, I know more than most other people know about it.
Senator Spivak: Oh, there are other specialized glaciologists.
Ms. Jiskoot: There is one specialized glaciologist, working for the Geological Survey of Canada, and his name is
Mike Demuth. He does the long-term research on Peyto Glacier and on Ram Glacier. It would be good to invite him
I want to stress one thing: Even if rivers are not fed by glaciers, they are now fed by winter snowpacks. As I said,
with climate change, those winter snowpacks will be much thinner and will have less water stored in them. My long-
term prediction is that the overall water quantity will dramatically go down, whether we have glaciers in the system or
The other thing I want to stress is water quality and water quantity are really related. Less water means more
pollution. Glacier melt and snowmelt, as Mr. Fitzpatrick said, bring high-oxygen cold water into the ecosystem. We
have already seen some changes in fish populations in the upper river reaches that have died because of a lack of cold
Mr. Fitzpatrick: The Department of Fisheries and Oceans came to Alberta because the water extraction in certain
reaches of the river caused temperatures to come to over 20oC in the summer. That temperature is a killing temperature
We talk about storage; glaciers store water in a form that is very good for the ecosystem. Cold water is exceptionally
good for the ecosystem.
Senator Spivak: Okay. Let me ask you, then, Dr. Fitzpatrick, because we are interested in effecting federal policy,
what your feelings are about the amount of funding and support that is going into the kind of research that you are
How would you characterize the federal contribution, and what might be an ideal kind of contribution to this
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Two things in my mind are important. The first thing is that we mobilize the knowledge that we
have right now, because I do not think we can wait until we get all the answers. I am willing to debate that one.
I do not support the notion that we need to fund more research before we can come up with some idea of how to
handle this problem. It will take too much time to put more research together and time to communicate with people.
More than ever before, we have to start talking to people in a much more meaningful manner.
Federal research is paralysed because of reorganization. I can say that because I am in the universities. For the last
five years Agriculture Canada has been mixing, shaking, and coming out with a different ways of doing research.
During that time, I have not seen any agricultural researchers come to the forefront.
Environment Canada seems to be doing things a little bit differently and they are moving researchers into university
labs and into different locations, whether it is in Fredericton, New Brunswick, or in Victoria, British Columbia. I think
that is a positive trend right now.
I think that within the federal civil service research program there has to be a way to relocate federal researchers into
the regions that need particular attention.
If you look at the Health Canada research on water-borne diseases, it is largely located in southern Ontario. As far
as I understand it, most of the feedlots throwing E. coli and many pathogens into the water system are located in
southern Alberta. There seems to be a disconnect between the two.
I encourage the federal agencies and the federal research branches to align their people with the important issues.
I was an employee of Agriculture Canada 20-odd years ago, and at one time, there was the notion of long-term
research and long-term capacity building within specific areas. I do not think that is a bad thing to have.
The federal funding envelope does not have adequate funds for research in natural science, engineering, the
Canadian Institutes of Health Research, or SHIRC. An incredible amount of research has to be done on the human
dimension of water, water in society, and water in the environment. I do not think those agencies have enough money
to fund the kinds of research that are necessary, and particularly SHIRC.
The Chairman: Just for the record, SHIRC does not do research it funds research; is that not true?
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Yes. SHIRC and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research both fund research.
If your research grant is $40,000 a year, you think $40,000 ideas. If your grant is $400,000, you think big ideas,
integrated ideas. For the last 25 years, we have been thinking smaller.
Now, I am not saying that Canadian research is not high-impact research. I think, by any measure of dollar-per-unit
research, we have done very well. I think it is time that we think a little bit bigger than we have in the past, and we sure
have to think a little bit faster than we have in the past.
Senator Angus: Dr. Fitzpatrick from what I understand of your presentation and of your brief is that we are just
scratching the surface concerning the water situation. I think you indicated that there are many misconceptions about
our water supply. I think you said that the Alberta watershed is quite different from simply a runoff from the glaciers.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Well, it is a combination of things.
The reason why I am against this Alberta focus is that when the Oldman River basin council makes decisions on
how to manage the Oldman River the council is making decisions that affects the South Saskatchewan River, which
feeds a huge part of Saskatchewan. I worry about people in Lethbridge making decisions on what is happening to
people in Regina. That is where we have to push back; we have to take the broader view of things.
The issue on water research is that it is not rocket science; it is far more complex than rocket science. I use the word
``we'' in terms of the entire world because we do not understand the complexities of water use.
I will give you a perfect example of this: In the 1990s, they built the Oldman River Dam. The Oldman River Dam
was put there, in the foothills of the Rockies, to assure that there was a continual supply of water.
What is the issue there?
The problem was that the Oldman River Dam stopped the periodic flooding of the river basin. Well, flooding of the
river basin is a signal to the cottonwood trees to reproduce, and the cottonwood trees hold the banks together. If you
stop the flooding, you kill the cottonwoods; you kill the cottonwoods, the banks deteriorate; the banks deteriorate, the
quality of the water goes down.
That is not rocket science. That is something we have to understand. This takes time; it takes money; and it also
Senator Angus: In your comments, you spoke about urban growth and water management. Are you saying that we
do not understand what is happening with the urban growth?
Is there a global dearth of research and knowledge on this subject, or is it only here in Canada?
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Well, no, there are certainly lessons to be learned from elsewhere.
The issue of water and water's value comes very much from the fact that you do not appreciate anything until it
costs you something. We have a huge number of people watering lawns with very, very expensive water, and that is an
I picked up the Lethbridge Herald a couple of weeks ago and read an interesting article about the complaints from
the people in Saskatoon. The city residents were upset because they were going to get water meters, which is the first
step in reducing water consumption; residents use less water when they have to pay for it.
The public believes that we have a never-ending supply of fresh, clean water, in spite of all of the evidence to the
Senator Angus: Are you saying that there is a great misconception amongst the public at large? The scientists know;
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Scientists know.
Senator Angus: We appreciate your coming here. We began our study of water a couple of months ago with the hope
of bringing in a report that would be of benefit to public awareness of water use.
In the process of our study, we have started to get a little bit educated. We have learned about aquifers, and have
come to learn that Canada does not have a proper groundwater map; that is shocking.
It is 2005, and this should be second nature to us all; should it not? Is that what you are saying?
The average person lets the cold water run for five minutes while brushing his or her teeth. All that water is just gone
down the drain.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Well, it is reprocessed into the system.
Three years ago, I made a presentation to Alberta Environment. In my presentation, I spoke about the critical need
for research in water hydrology. Someone at the end of the table said that there were many research hydrologists. I
stopped, I looked at him, and I used that old trick and asked him to name one for me. We sat there for a while. He told
me that the oil companies are doing hydrology studies but the oil companies do not share their information.
An incredible amount of information out there does not find its way into the public domain. Information that we
could use is kept in proprietary silos.
I spoke at the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association meeting last week. At the meeting, Mr. Jay White spoke about
source tracking of E. coli forms in surface water. He came out with this wonderful description of how to trace it back
with the use of molecular biological detection techniques. Someone asked him if he would swim in any Alberta lake,
and his answer was ``no.''
Does the public know that?
Senator Angus: No, because they are swimming in the lake.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Because they are swimming in the lake. He said not only would he not swim in the lake, but he
would not let his kids swim in the lake.
If that is not a litanies test that we have not communicated the issues of water well enough with the public, I do not
know what is.
Senator Angus: I think you said that 100 years ago, the rise was .6oC of 1 per cent of glacial recession, and now it is
1.6oC per cent, but you were referring to 30 years time.
I wonder about the difference. Is that your way of saying that climate change is having a devastating effect?
Ms. Jiskoot: Well, I mentioned that the rise of .6oC in the last 100 years has had an effect on glacial melt. In our
Canadian Rockies, in the Western Cordilleran, the glaciers have lost 25 per cent of their area. The glaciers in the
European Alps have lost 50 per cent of their volume. The climate change has had more of an impact there, because the
climate in the Alps is already a little bit warmer, and then if you raise the temperature, it will make the glaciers melt
The other figure I mentioned is 1.4oC, which is a prediction, it is a computer model that if we model the climate
1.4oC per cent higher in the next 30 years, then all the glaciers in the Canadian Rockies, south of 54o north latitude, will
disappear between the next 50 years to 100 years.
I am not saying that will happen but what I am saying is that 1.4oC is not very much, since we have already had one-
half of that in the last 100 years.
Senator Angus: Has it ever happened before? That is the crazy theory that this is just part of a great big cycle of an
ice age, then a recession, then the melt, and so on. Do you believe that theory?
Ms. Jiskoot: Well, yes, I do believe in natural climate change. When the dinosaurs were roaming around, it was
much, much warmer here, and there were no glaciers in Canada, there were no Canadian Rockies, either.
Definitely, between about 1650 and 1850, we had a cold period, called the ``Little Ice Age,'' and Dutch paintings
illustrate the climate of that naturally cold period.
There is a definite link between the CO2 concentration, the greenhouse gases and that climate change, and we see
that link in the ice cores from periods before we had any industrial output of CO2.
Whether or not we cause the climate change, we have to adjust to it. To be able to adjust to climate change, we have
to know what is happening.
I just heard Mr. Fitzpatrick say that we have a tremendous amount of data, and we have not enough scientists. I do
not believe we have a tremendous amount of data. We have no longitudinal data about a lot of things. You just
mentioned there is no groundwater map. We do not know exactly what is in store for us, what is there.
We scientists cannot predict things any better than anyone on the street can if we do not have the data. Even though
we have a number of good scientists, we need a great deal more data.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: We need to have some of the information gathered by a different kind of labour resource other than
the universities. The long-term compilation of activities requires different management skills than those found in the
For example, a university is not well suited to studies that concern all the western oil and gas well drilling and the
groundwater measurements that are associated with that type of drilling. That kind of information will lead to the
development of guidelines and regulations, and will become the foundational knowledge upon which to make these
I think that research means you have to see what the public sector research and the civil servants can put together
with the universities. We have to find a way to harness both of these engines in such a way that we can come up with
answers that are more definitive.
Ms. Jiskoot: University funding programs are generally for four or five years, and then we have to reapply. Federal
institutes like Environment Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Geological Survey of Canada
have longer-term projects, and they can provide the long-term data that we can use to measure the changes.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: I do not say that I ever suggested that universities could not give all the answers, because if we do
not have the information, we give the answers anyway.
Senator Milne: Dr. Fitzpatrick, I want to know how you define ``arid areas'' and how you define ``semi-arid areas.''
You said that Lethbridge was not a semi-arid area.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: If it were an arid area, nothing would grow there. The area around Medicine Hat is semi-arid
because they hit that precipitation threshold. It is a fairly arbitrary, low precipitation threshold.
Senator Milne: Do you have any maps of these areas throughout the southern Prairies?
Mr. Fitzpatrick: The two lowest precipitation areas in Canada are the belt from Kelowna through to Winnipeg and
the Northern belt, which is also a low-moisture fall area. These are the areas in which evapotranspiration could well
exceed rainfall or moisture.
We call it semi-arid so that people will understand.
Senator Milne: That is why I am suggesting that you not change that term.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Yes. I am afraid that someone who knows the definition and finds out that we get a millimetre more
than the definition, will call me and tell me to use a different term.
The issue is that from Red Deer south water is the single-most constraining agricultural factor.
If you look at two cities, you will see that Drumheller and Lethbridge were once the same size. Lethbridge had the
water in irrigation; Drumheller had the dinosaurs. Lethbridge has a population of 73,000 people; Drumheller has a
population of about 15,000. The economic activity and economic spinoffs are not there. Some of that is just
happenstance. We are closer to the mountains and we get the benefit of the snows and the rivers that flow from them.
Senator Milne: We very clearly recognize that it is not just the reorganization in the federal service that has paralysed
research; it has been lack of money allocated for research.
Canada has not been doing dedicated research for the last 10 years.
What would be your list of priorities if you were God and giving out money?
Mr. Fitzpatrick: I do not want to step on Professor Klein's presentation.
Senator Milne: I will let her answer herself.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Professor Klein is sitting right back here.
It is not just knowledge; it is translating knowledge into action.
I am not at all sure that we are making the best use of the water we have in growing crops that produce the
maximum economic gain possible. I am not sure that growing water-intensive crops such as potatoes and sugar beets is
wise. We might do better to grow other less water-intensive crops.
These are complex issues, and I think that the economic use of water is important to our agricultural sector.
We must always ask if we are making the best choices on water use.
We have to understand how our water policy and our licensing policy are affecting water use and the economic
value of water.
Not every place in the world has water tied immediately to land. We have just brought in a Canada research chair
from the University of Southern Australia in Adelaide, who is going to bring in a whole wealth of experience on what
has happened in the Murray-Darling Basin. In that example they are selling water and using water as an economic
instrument, so that it is moving to areas that have the highest value associated with it.
Turning water into a commodity causes me great concern. We have to be careful of turning water into a commodity,
and if we do, we must find the balance between the societal needs and the economics. There are many people in
Lethbridge that would pay anything for a green lawn. It is not going to create much economic activity, but they have
the money to pay for water. It is a typical Canadian thing. We have to find a balance.
I think we have to understand what obligations international treaties have that are going to dictate our water use
over the long term.
Senator Milne: Milk River and the St. Mary's River.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: I am not worried about the Milk River and the St. Mary's River as much as I am worried about all
of the water.
This is my soapbox, and I think that we are at a very interesting time in our life, because people are signing away
global treaties, and we have not even seen the rubber hit the road. We do not know how they are going to impact on
our ability to use and manage water.
I think that water is going to be what gasoline was for the last century: It is going to be the economic driver. I think
that Canadians have to find a way to maximize the use of water.
The short answer to that is that before I invested another penny in the science of water, I would look at the social
science and the law side of water. This is just particularly related to agriculture and agricultural-based research. That is
where I would spend funds.
Senator Milne: Speaking of agriculture and agricultural-based research, is there anything going on in your
institution, given your agricultural background?
Is anything going on in looking at the future of agricultural practices in areas, such as southern Alberta or across
If global warming gets as bad as we all suspect it is going to, can the agricultural industry survive declining water
supplies and increasing frequency of droughts?
Is there any research going into crops or marketing procedures or any of this going on in these areas that are going
to be the first affected, after the North?
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Well, I think that is a very good question.
Senator Milne: Lethbridge started out as an agricultural university.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: The bad news is global warming, and the good news is global warming. Global warming is going to
increase the number of frost-free days, and it is going to allow certain different kinds of crops to grow. It may well
increase the overall precipitation within the region.
The problem is that it is going to increase the overall rate of evapotranspiration in the area, and the water balance is
really going to kill you.
Senator Milne: That is why you have to start looking to Australia and the southern United States for methods of
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Well, to be honest, I would not look to the southern United States to solve anything.
Senator Milne: No, that is true. There is too much salt lying on top of the ground down there.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: In the Midwest United States, they are bringing water out of their aquifers for irrigation and the
maintenance of crops. You cannot mine that water forever, and I worry about the consequences of that action.
China is also mining their water supply. If your groundwater is decreasing and if your wells are going deeper each
and every year, you are in trouble.
I have done some general reading on this subject, and I have talked to the people in Agriculture and Agri-Food
Canada who are partners with the Chinese in research irrigation programs and I just think that we are really in trouble.
I really think that we should be thinking about water policy, law, and internationalism. That is something that I
intend to start working on as soon as I get a few other things done.
It took us two years to find a Canada research chair in water in the society and economics. I had to go down to
Australia, in November, with a briefcase full of dollars, it sounds like a federal scandal, but it was a local scandal. I
went down to Adelaide and spent a week with him and his wife, to convince him to come to Canada.
I think that the most important thing is that we start talking about these issues, so that we all understand the
consequences of the decisions we make.
Senator Milne: So they are made based on good science and, then, the downstream consequences.
Dr. Jiskoot, what is on your wish list?
Ms. Jiskoot: My wish is not to do science on a shoestring. Of course, my approach is a little bit narrow in the sense
that I focus on the glaciers. I would like to integrate all of the glaciers and the glacial water in all of the calculations. I
would like to see longitudinal studies funded and I would like studies funded that have short-term and long-term
predictions. Scientists are not policymakers. Often, we try to provide data, but what we provide is not totally black and
white. We always say we are 95 per cent certain, but then politicians want it 100 per cent certain.
Senator Milne: Nothing is 100 per cent certain.
Ms. Jiskoot: I would like to have funds, not only for glaciology, but also for groundwater and all of the water. I
would like to get the data that we need to predict, how things will be in the future.
Senator Milne: You are talking about mapping groundwater and aquifers.
Ms. Jiskoot: I am referring to mapping glaciers. We do not have a glacier inventory of the Canadian Rockies. We
have inventories of Axel Heiberg Island, for example, in Nunavut, but still not very good inventories of Ellesmere
Island and other areas.
I think we need to address the attitude of people unrelated to scientists. I disagree with Mr. Fitzpatrick, in one sense,
because people in California have changed; it is cool to drive a smaller care that is environmentally friendly.
There are small things that can be done from federal and municipal buildings. If you water the lawn before the sun
rises or after the sun sets, you do not lose all of the water with evapotranspiration. If we change the attitude in people
into a mindset of water conservation, then I think that will be a good thing. That is something that the federal and
provincial governments can do.
Senator Buchanan: I am going to be a little controversial, rather than like the others.
I am from Missouri; I really am from Missouri when it comes to climate change. I have read a lot from various
At the Bedford Institute in Dartmouth, you will find about 60 per cent that agree that climate change has occurred
and 40 per cent will disagree. Some experts say that it is a cyclical change only and that it has occurred before. They say
it is just occurring again, as Mother Nature intended.
You just said, ``Whether or not we have caused it, we should do something about it.'' Yes, you said that.
Ms. Jiskoot: I said, ``We have to adjust to it.''
Senator Buchanan: Yes, you did use the word ``adjust.''
Why is there a controversy? You do not agree with me on this, of course; I know you do not.
There was an article not too long ago about the ``hockey stick'' theory. A few scientific people and economists threw
cold water on the whole damn thing, and they said the people who, over the years, have talked about climate change
are using the wrong computer models, that if you go back 100 years, you will find the same climate change occurred
way back in the late 1800s. The graph is up, like this, and down, like this; up like this; and now it is back up again.
Do you believe any of that?
I was in Alaska not too many years ago and we rowed out to a glacier. One of the people on board the ferry that we
were on said that the glacier moves back and forth all the time.
Ms. Jiskoot: Columbia Glacier, yes.
Senator Buchanan: It is around Ketchikan, I think.
Somebody remarked that climate change was the reason for the movement of the glacier. We heard that the glacier
has been around for a long time and in 20 years, it may be far away and in another 20 years after that, it may be back
to where it was in the first place. It retreats back and forth all the time.
About 20-some years ago, at a premier's conference, we went on a glacier, here, outside Edmonton, and went up in
great big, balloon-tired buses. I was there four years ago, and it does not look any different from 20 years ago. Now, I
did not measure it, but it does not look any different than it did then.
So, why is it that these cycles have occurred over the years?
Of course, you go to Nova Scotia and in the Peggy's Cove area, you see what the Ice Age did, but the ice was all
there. It is gone, and the big rocks are there. Ice Ages have occurred and occurred.
I agree that whether we have caused it the climate change or not, we should adjust to it. Well, maybe they said that
back in 1890, too.
Ms. Jiskoot: Okay. I think you have asked two questions.
The people that oppose the data are not independent scientists.
Senator Angus: Just a minute, now, the scientists in the oceanographic centre in Dartmouth are independent.
Ms. Jiskoot: That is one institute, and they are a handful of scientists. There are hundreds of scientists.
The Chairman: You are having a semantic argument.
They do not disagree that climate change is occurring; they disagree as to the extent to which people are causing it to
Have I got that right? Is that not correct?
Senator Angus: Yes, you are right, as usual. I told Harry Currie, once, you were always right.
Ms. Jiskoot: Of course, I have heard about the hockey stick theory.
Well, okay, there is one problem with our measurements of the temperature. If you go back 100 years or 200 years,
the accuracy of the instruments is not within .5oC. So how can we say that it has risen by .5oC?
Temperature is not the only evidence for climate change. I mentioned melting permafrost. The sea ice is melting
much earlier. Ice on the rivers is not occurring as early in the season; it is also melting much earlier. Snowfall has gone
down. Ecological changes are happening.
All those things that are circumstantial evidence for climate change.
Senator Angus: Do you think those things might have happened back in 1890?
Ms. Jiskoot: Of course. They always have. It even happened to the Vikings. The Vikings lived in Greenland for a
while. They grew potatoes, but by the time the climate changed, they did not adjust, and they died. They died because
they did not adjust to the climate. They still wanted to grow potatoes, and they could not anymore.
That is what will happen to us: We will die if we do not adjust to the climate change.
Your second question was about the fluctuating glaciers. Now you are totally in my element, because I have studied
Senator Buchanan: I am out of it, of course.
Ms. Jiskoot: Glaciers adjust to climate change. If the climate gets colder and there is more precipitation, they
expand, become bigger, and they come forward. If more melting than precipitation occurs, then they go back.
An unstable glacier is called a ``surging glacier,'' which has a mind of its own. An internal instability sometimes
causes them to rush forward. For as many as forty years, they have a slow flow; and then, for one, two, or three years,
they rush forward.
One of those glaciers that you saw is a tidewater glacier, which also has that unstable behaviour.
We do not use those glaciers to measure the climate change. We ignore those glaciers.
Senator Buchanan: You ignore them?
Ms. Jiskoot: Well, we ignore them in looking at climate signals in glaciers. We have to look at only the glaciers that
have a stable flow, that are not doing any rushing forward and then melting back, because that obscures the climate
signal. The climate signal is still in it, because every time it rushes forward it comes forward to exactly the same point
every time. If we have a little bit of climate warming, every time it goes forward, it goes a little bit further back.
We carefully choose the types of glaciers that we study, and those are the stable glaciers.
Senator Buchanan: Okay, Mr. Chairman. I am sorry I took up the time.
I am rather pleased, though, that she kind of agrees with me now, and we are both from Missouri.
The Chairman: I am sure that Dr. Jiskoot is pleased, too.
Thank you very much for being with us. We could, obviously, continue this for another couple of hours.
Senator Adams: Mr. Chairman, I put my name down.
The Chairman: Yes, you did, Senator Adams, but I am sorry we are out of time. There are other senators whose
names are also on the list, and we are out of time.
Senator Angus: Can we ask if she goes helicopter skiing?
The Chairman: I am sure she does not.
Ms. Jiskoot: I take a helicopter to my glacier, yes.
The Chairman: We will be asking to speak with you again. In the meantime, we may be writing to ask you some
questions that have arisen out of what you have said today, and I hope that you will answer them if it is convenient for
you to do so. We may invite you to come to speak to us again, perhaps in Ottawa, or we may come to visit you.
We are going to stay right where we are, Senators, and I am going to ask Professor Klein to come and join us, and
we will continue the hearing.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: I just have one parting comment. For your information, the UN has had a freshwater program. On
March 22, the UN is going to announce the International Decade for Action: Water for Life.
The people who hosted the Wonder of Water Initiative are moving the vocation to the University of Lethbridge, and
we are going be the host. In partnership with Global Television, we are going to produce a series of public service
announcements. Global Television has led this initiative. Global is going to give us $8 million worth of free airtime.
That is a shameless plug for the fact that the University of Lethbridge takes this water and environment issue very
Thank you for your time.
The Chairman: I wish to thank both witnesses for their attendance here. It has been very helpful.
Professor Kurt Klein is also from the University of Lethbridge. You heard my admonitions to other witnesses,
Professor Klein. So the floor is yours.
I am delighted to see that your colleagues have stayed. Thank you.
Mr. Kurt Klein, Professor, University of Lethbridge, as an individual: Well, thank you very much for this invitation,
Senator Banks and the Committee.
This is my first time to appear before such a committee, and I was not quite sure exactly how to approach it.
I am an agricultural economist and for most of my professional career, I have worked on problems of agricultural
policy and trade issues.
I see Senator Buchanan has left, and that is good, perhaps, because I led a team of economists who looked at the
Feed Freight Assistance Program, back in the early 1990s, and the Crow's Nest tree-trade issue.
More recently, my research has been in two areas. I lead a team of Canadian social scientists in studies on the socio-
economics of bioproducts and bioprocessing conversion to a bioeconomy.
We have several studies going on at University of Lethbridge, University of Saskatchewan, and Laval University in
Quebec City, as well as some other associated places, on what the economics and social consequences would be of
converting towards a bioeconomy. I refer to such things as ethanol, biodiesel, bioplastics, and other biofuels and so on.
My second area of research is in this water area, which I will address today. In this water issue, we are trying to
establish a team of social scientists to study the issues of water.
I have prepared about four pages of submission to this committee, and I will be very brief and only go over some of
the main points.
Throughout the 20th century, water use in Canada, and other places, has been an integral part of economic and
social policy. Dams, reservoirs, and canals were built to increase the productivity of land in drier regions; to reduce the
riskiness in crop production; to create employment; and, to increase food production for domestic and export
These were supply-side solutions that focussed on the increased availability and storability of water. They have
given way to concerns of environmental sustainability; long-term security of water supplies; and an improved
understanding of the need to consider demand-side strategies to assure the optimal use of this increasingly scarce
In late 2003, the Alberta government released a strategy paper called Water for Life: Alberta's Strategy for
Sustainability. One of the key components in that paper is that by 2007 the province should complete an evaluation of
economic instruments and make recommendations on the merit of using such instruments to achieve water
conservation and productivity objectives. The strategy identifies the need to investigate the efficiency of using the
following economic instruments: water pricing; taxes on wasteful practices; subsidies for conservation; use of water
meters, and tradable water rights.
Now, for the first time in Canada, some of these socio-economic issues are being researched in an organized way. At
the newly created Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Water Research at the University of Lethbridge, we have established a
small team of social science researchers to undertake this type of research.
Very little research has been done in this area and that is a great tragedy. Not only do we lack baseline research
findings, we also lack highly trained personnel to do the research.
Now, this is in stark contrast to many other countries, and one that comes to mind immediately is the United States,
where a federally funded consortium of approximately 50 social science researchers, the W190 Group, has been
conducting research and training graduate students on water issues for many, many years.
We are starting to study these very important demand-side issues with very little baseline research and almost no
trained personnel. Although our research effort is now underway the funding for this type of research is minimal, and
this has delayed progress in this long-neglected area. Just over 10 per cent of the research budget in this new water
research centre has been allocated to socio-economic research.
We heard earlier today, from Dr. Fitzpatrick, about the importance of getting some answers in this area.
I am here to tell you that although these are very high-priority areas we still do not know very much about these
We live in a market economy, a market economy that uses incentives for actions of producers and consumers, and
the actions are mitigated by the social institutions and regulations that we have in place in the economy. Whatever
drives the decisions is critically important to the outcomes. This is a real problem for us, because we really do not know
how or at what rate farmers and others will adopt new technologies; what conditions them to do it; or how profitable
different practices will be.
I have listed, on about two and one-half pages, four key priorities for this type of research.
The first area of priority for this type of research is on the area of demand management of water, administered
pricing, and water markets. As many of you may know, water markets have been created or made possible with the
recent changes to legislation in Alberta, and we have had one example where water markets were operational in the
I have a graduate student who is just completing her master's thesis on the effects of the water market in the St.
Mary's River Irrigation District. She looked at the extent to which the markets were operational; what some of the
findings were; what the prices of water were, and so on.
A second area is on global warming. We have done some studies on this, not on the water issue, per se, but on how
global warming could affect agriculture in the three Prairie provinces. We worked with soil scientists, crop scientists,
and agricultural meteorologists, from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, to do a series of studies on global warming.
A lot more needs to be done. We need further studies to understand the issue of water supply; to understand what crop
selection adjustments and farming practices are necessary in light of the climatic variables.
A third area is ecological and environmental issues. We have seen that the diversion of water for irrigation purposes
has resulted in the degradation of fish habitat in southern Alberta's streams and rivers. Also, other creatures, such as
the burrowing owl, are affected by the high degree of cultivation that takes place in irrigated regions.
There are a whole lot of issues associated with the environment and the economic trade-offs, because we are dealing
in a market-based economy where producers and consumers make their decisions based on the signals around them. In
many cases, to try to further their own interests, this has had a negative effect on environmental variables.
The fourth area is farm management. Irrigation is the largest consumptive use of water in this drier area of Canada.
Decisions made by farmers on their use of water can have large impacts on the efficiency and sustainability of water
use throughout the region.
If water prices are used to increase the price of this scarce resource it would mean that farmers would try to cut back
on some of their water, perhaps to maintain their profitability levels.
We do not have good ideas and we do not have good data on the extent to which reductions in water use will result
in changes in the yield of the various crops. The extra productivities from water are not the same for different crops,
and they are not the same for wheat in one soil region versus another.
We need to know an awful lot more about crop responsiveness to different levels of water application, costs and
returns from alternative water conservation strategies, and so on.
Most of our knowledge in this area is related to engineering types of studies or soil types of studies, trying to find the
water that is best for optimal or maximal yields of crops. In fact, that is not how farmers operate, and we know that
from a lot of experience and a lot of studies. We know that these kinds of marginal productivities would be affected.
We really do not have good data; in fact, we do not have any data. If a farmer asks me a question on this subject, my
only response is to call up some of my colleagues in the W190 Group in the United States to see what information they
have, and they have a lot. I then try, in a practical way, to adjust their information to our conditions. Of course, it is
very unsuitable for our conditions, because they work under not only different climate and soil conditions but a
completely different legal and institutional environment.
Thank you. I am prepared to respond to anything that you might have to say.
The Chairman: Thank you very much, Professor Klein. That was very concise, and we have got the paper, which
flushes out some of those things even more.
Senator Adams: I am not a farmer; I am a hunter.
You said you did a study in agriculture and the farming. Now, we have had quite a bit of drought in the western
area. Our drought was so bad a few years ago that we had to get hay from Ontario to feed our cattle.
We have both the beef farmers and the regular farmers in the West and they use a lot of water.
Mr. Klein: Yes. Well, thank you for that. Water, of course, is critical for agriculture, as it is for humans to live and
We have a very large livestock industry, primarily in Western Canada, of beef and pork. In southern Alberta, we
have the centre, really, of beef production in Canada. I have done a lot of research on the economics of beef
I mentioned that I have been involved in two big project areas, although in the last year and a half instead of
concentrating on bioproducts water issues I have spent most of my time on the BSE issue.
In general, we have adequate water supplies for our livestock industries. The livestock, obviously, consume a lot of
water, and there are many agricultural wastes associated with livestock production. In southern Alberta, where we
have the highest population of animals, agricultural waste is at its highest. Some have estimated that just the animals in
Lethbridge County alone are equivalent to manure from a city of between 8 million and 9 million people, so there are
many opportunities for groundwater contamination and surface runoff. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, as well as
other agencies of the federal government and the university participate in on-going studies to determine the effects of
this agricultural waste.
The drought conditions to which you refer affected livestock primarily, as you mentioned, in the hay area. Now we
have droughts nearly every year, somewhere in the Prairie provinces. The Hay West campaign got a lot of publicity,
because it is unusual to transport hay so far; in fact, it is generally not economically feasible. It would not have
happened without massive government subsidies and donations from private individuals and groups. It was a small
and rather token amount of hay that came, but it got a lot of publicity.
The droughts have affected, of course, not only the hay but the crops. The crops are needed for the livestock, not
only the grain for livestock feed but also the straw and other by-products of the grain.
Senator Adams: Especially this year, between California and B.C., where they had a mud slide because they got so
What is the difference in amount of rain? It is too flat in some places?
Mr. Klein: I am not qualified to answer that kind of a question. I deal with the human responses to the conditions as
The cattle farmers have to adjust to the BSE situation. They have to adjust to droughts as they come along. What
kinds of signals do they follow in terms of making their adjustments?
On the consumer side, if, as Dr. Fitzpatrick mentioned, we increase the use of water meters in Calgary and other
cities, it will affect the water consumption.
How do consumers respond? How do producers respond, to changes in both output and input prices and changes in
We have to take the rain as it comes and that is how our farmers think.
Senator Adams: We had the pipeline people here this morning. We do not expect that those gas pipelines will pump
gas and oil forever.
I know we have a lake around the Territories. If nothing changed, would they be able to do that in the system in the
Mr. Klein: Well, again, I am not qualified to answer that question.
Obviously, our society is one that uses an awful lot of resources. We are one of the biggest resource users per capita
in the world. Part of that is caused by our cold climate, our sparse population, and the richness of our country. We can
afford to use a lot. We are always looking for sources of new resources, because it helps our lifestyle and the way that
people like to live.
Now, as an economist, I want to help to provide information for the public debate about the relative cost and
benefit of these kinds of resource acquisition schemes. Personally, I want to see us use our resources as wisely as we
can. When I say ``use them wisely,'' it does not mean we do not use them at all, but we use them to get the best benefit
that we can for the smallest possible use of the resources.
Senator Adams: Where we live, in the Hudson Bay, we have about five parks, and there are rivers running to the
We are talking about more droughts in the future. There has to be a way to slow down the water to stop it from
flowing out to the sea and disturbing our fish. The provinces and the federal government have to get together to take
care of this problem. If you want to keep your water, make sure it does not drain down to the sea. We have to find
some way to reserve the water.
Is there some way that we are able to slow down the dam, or would that damage the environment?
Mr. Klein: Well, there are ways, of course. We have been putting in dams and reservoirs for over a century. In fact,
farmers often talk about this. They want to capture more of the spring water rather than see it go up to Hudson Bay
and become saltwater. They need more water for their crops and see the capture of spring water as a good thing for
Of course, if we do that, there are environmental and economic consequences. These dams are not cheap and they
require a lot of public money to build. If public money is spent on expensive dams it will not be spent on other
priorities such as education, health care, or highways.
Senator Angus: We have had some witnesses come and talk to us about the ecological wetlands, people from Ducks
Unlimited, who are very good in this area. They have told us horror stories about these wetlands, and how, with proper
irrigation and miniature spending they could do a wonderful job of managing those resources. They have made all
kinds of recommendations on how the land could be given to people who would do it properly, if they could only get a
tax receipt, and so on.
What do you know about people who think like the people from Ducks Unlimited?
It seems to me that we hear that awful word, ``desertification,'' to describe the area of southern Alberta far too often.
Mr. Klein: This is a phenomenon that stretches right across the country, and certainly, anywhere in the Prairie
I come from northern Saskatchewan, northwest of Prince Albert. I farmed there for about 10 years before I went
back to university. I still have my land up there.
Part of our farm, when I was a kid growing up, was under sloughs and willows, and there were a lot of frogs and
things out there. While I was farming, and others, we broke up all that land; we cut down trees and the land dried up.
Most of that land is all cultivated. It is marginal land; it often freezes; it is cold; it has a short growing season; it is not
very good for agriculture. The birds that were there when I grew up are no longer there; they are long gone. The further
south you go, the more you see this situation.
Now, from a farmer's point of view, this is a struggling industry, a primary industry. It is like fishing on the East
Coast. These industries have very low, negative financial margins.
I think we are all aware of how difficult the farming industry has been throughout our history. We tend to think that
the present time is really difficult, but one of the reasons I left farming, in the early 1970s, was because it was so
difficult; I could not get ahead on anything, and it is always going to be that way.
From a farmer's point of view, to take some land out of possible production and let the ducks have it is costly,
because not only do you take some land out of production, but those crazy ducks trample in your good crop, and cause
Now, as urban people, most of us know that there are many environmental advantages to having the ducks, and we
like to see ducks, even if we do not see them ourselves. We like to know that there are ducks there, but from the
farmer's point of view, they do not want to give up any production and see the ducks as a charitable donation that is
At the University of Lethbridge, we are beginning a study that will ask the question: What are the environmental
Can we pass the hat through the tax system and help farmers to leave this land for the ducks?
In other words, can we change the signals that go to the primary producers, so that the farmers will voluntarily do
some of the things that we can all collectively agree are good things to do?
Senator Angus: When you say ``we,'' are you talking about the W190 Group?
Mr. Klein: In this sense, I am talking about Canadian citizens and taxpayers. We will pass the hat and through our
tax system, collect some money that we could then use to subsidize these beneficial practices.
Senator Angus: What is the W190 Group?
Mr. Klein: That is a federally funded group out of United States Department of Agriculture: USDA. They have
many of these research groups.
It allows social science water researchers, economists, agricultural economists, and sociologists, and some legal
experts, to come together and coordinate their research.
I once belonged to NARO, the National Agricultural Research Organization, and co-authored a book on marketing
beef in Japan. At that time, I belonged to one of these ``W'' groups that looked at beef marketing in Japan. It had a
different name then, but now it is W190.
In the United States, in almost every land-grant university west of the Mississippi, you will find three or four water
economists. Without any notes, I can think of probably 25 people in the United States who have been doing this
research for the better part of their careers. I cannot think of one single person in Canada.
Senator Angus: Really?
Mr. Klein: There is not one.
Senator Angus: Do you feel that what we are doing here might help to bring attention to the problem?
Mr. Klein: I think there are a number of events that are bringing this attention. I mentioned the Water for Life
strategy of the Alberta government.
We are getting to a situation now where we recognize that the supply-side solutions, of building more dams and
reservoirs are limited options for the future. It used to be that if we wanted more water, we would build a new dam.
Dr. Fitzpatrick mentioned about the Oldman River Dam about ten years ago. My belief is that we probably will not
see any more of these dams, and since the water is fully allocated, we have to make do with some kind of demand-side
solutions and find ways to reduce the demand for water.
We have to find ways that we can use water, for industries, commercial use, domestic use or recreation, that have
more value to us than growing an extra ton of barley. We have to find a way to use it in ways that we can get more
productivity out of it.
Australia has experienced severe water allocation problems. Dr. Fitzpatrick mentioned the Murray-Darling Basin in
southern Australia where the water problems have been more severe. In South Africa, Chile, and in areas of California,
water issues have become severe problems. With the help of research from these countries, we are learning about new
ideas to overcome water problems. We are learning how to change the institutions and change the incentives for water
use by both producers and consumers. We are just a little bit behind those countries.
Senator Spivak: We did a study in the agricultural committee and suggested using marginal land for tree farms. That
was an idea that got a lot of support.
You are an economist and there is such a thing as natural capital. I do not believe that farmers should be subsidized
for charitable reasons. Those wetlands have an economic value and a purpose. It is not just ducks. They wetlands
cleanse a lot of things. We need to get into the public mind the fact that there is natural capital, and we are living off
that capital; and we should not be mining it; we should not be destroying the capital; we should be sensible with it.
What do you think about the tree idea?
I have visited Israel and the desert and they do not have any water. They have taken the desert and turned it into
glorious agricultural and horticultural land. I am sure you must know about this. Their irrigation is so precise that they
just take drops of water exactly to the root.
It seems to me that there is not a technological barrier to efficient irrigation practices. It is just a matter of using
common sense and applying the right strategies to the right situation. We have to educate the people because people
think that we have all kinds of water.
Mr. Klein: Thank you for your questions; I will answer the question concerning drip irrigation.
Yes, many of these solutions are technically possible and we know how to do them, but they are extremely
expensive, so while we can easily replicate what they are doing in Israel, we are unlikely to do it because of the cost that
The irrigation region in southern Alberta is about 600,000 hectares, or a million and-a-half acres. That large parcel
of land grows rather low-value crops such as barley, wheat, canola, hay, alfalfa, and so on. There is only a small
amount of acreage, almost infinitely small in percentage terms, dedicated to high-value vegetable crops. The reason is
that there is just not enough market for those high-value crops.
We do grow about 40,000 acres of sugar beets annually, which is a crop that is a high user of water. We can buy
sugar a lot cheaper than we can grow it and potatoes, possibly, also.
The reason that we grow it this way and we use the water the way we do is because water has had no price, up until
now. The price that the farmers pay is a payment for their own personal pumping costs and an assessment, based on an
acreage levied by the irrigation district. Up until now, the amount that they use does not affect their cost.
Now, if we were to get very expensive water, the way it is in Israel, well, then you would see some farmers who have
a market for some high-value products start to use this kind of drip irrigation.
Concerning the first question on the tree farms, I feel it is a very good suggestion. I would love it if somebody would
pay me to put trees on my farm, because I think I could make a lot more money from trees than from barley that
sometimes makes it and sometimes freezes.
The problem is we do not have well enough established markets looking forward for the products of tree farming,
and, consequently, farmers are not growing trees because it is not in their economic interests to do so. If you pay them,
they will do it.
Senator Spivak: Alberta, according to what we read and what we have seen, is tracking through their boreal forest
like nobody's business.
Alberta is a rich province with a very rich government. Surely, it would make sense to have tree farms. It seems to
me, that this is a priority. The tree farms would have other advantages, in terms of rainfall, et cetera.
Mr. Klein: Yes, that is true.
Senator Spivak: My point is that there must be an economic rationale for tree farms.
Mr. Klein: We are trying to study the area of carbon cyclestration, for example, for greenhouse gas credits, offset
credits, and the value of them.
At the present time, as you may be aware, the market for offset credits is slowly developing. We expect to have
markets in place within the next year or two.
We know that TransAlta has signed a big contract with a firm in Chile to buy offset credits.
The Chairman: Mr. Klein, please speak a little more slowly, as though you were in a large classroom. This is a
Parliamentary procedure and our reports are translating as you speak.
Mr. Klein: My apologies to the committee.
The Chairman: I am the worst offender, Professor Klein, the worst offender.
Senator Spivak, did you get an answer to your question?
Senator Spivak: I am not sure.
The Chairman: Well, we will put you on the second round.
Senator Milne: As an owner of a tree farm, let me tell you, you cannot wait eight years for your first cash crop,
which is Christmas trees. Then, you have cash crop every year for about the next eight years. Then, it is 25 years before
you get fence posts off it. Then, it is 35 years and 40 years before you can cut for lumber. This makes very scant eating
in between these cheques.
Dr. Klein, you mention that water markets may soon be possible in Alberta. I do not know what you mean by
Mr. Klein: What I mean is the buying and selling of water. There are two types of markets and one is for the
temporary transfer of water rights. The water rights, as you may know, are tied to the land in Alberta. In other parts of
the world, they are trying to deregulate these water rights. It is my belief that some of that will happen, sooner or later,
in Alberta as well.
Right now, the irrigation districts hold the water rights for the farmers that are within the irrigation districts. There
are also a significant amount ``private irrigators,'' that have their own water rights.
There is one act in the Government of Alberta that allows the temporary transfer of water from one owner of water
rights to another for one year. In 2001, there were advertisements for the sale of water and negotiations made on the
purchase of water.
In the St. Mary's River Irrigation District alone, there were about 150 such transactions in 2001. Farmers that had
the right to get an allocation of water voluntarily gave up that right to another farmer.
We found that they were moving water from lower-valued to higher-valued uses. Some farmers who were growing
crops such as barley found they could make more money selling their water rights to somebody who needed the water,
for example, to grow potatoes. So, the water moved from lower- to higher-valued uses.
Since 2000, there has been another transferable water right and that is the permanent right to water. About 20
transactions either underway or completed involve the permanent transfer of water from one farm to another farm.
There are Hutterite colonies, cooperatives, golf courses, and so on, that are buying water, subject to a process
approved and monitored by Alberta Environment. The process is time consuming and costly and there are only a
limited number of these permanent water transfers taking place now.
It is my belief that these markets will develop and will move water to areas of high value, because the present owners
of the water will find it to their advantage to sell surplus water or make more money from selling it than using it.
Senator Milne: How will this affect the St. Mary's River and the Milk River?
I gather there is a dispute between the farmers in Montana that want more water and the farmers in Alberta and
southern Saskatchewan that are using it.
Mr. Klein: The acts to which I refer are Alberta pieces of legislation, so we can only have the market within Alberta.
The provincial apportionment agreements agree to supply 50 per cent of the water supply to Saskatchewan;
however, there is no reason why we could not have a market where we could buy some back if Saskatchewan wants to
sell it. If Saskatchewan finds that, they do not need as much of the water as they thought they would it might be to their
advantage to sell some of that water back to Alberta. They might sell it to Alberta for a year or two or maybe
permanently, and that would be a transfer of money and a transfer of water rights from Saskatchewan to Alberta. This
is not possible because we do not have legislation that would permit it.
Senator Milne: Mr. Klein you talked about the Oldman River Dam and the water that is fully allocated.
Mr. Klein: Yes.
Senator Milne: Do you mean that the water is fully allocated through these irrigation districts?
Mr. Klein: That is correct. In this case, the Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District has water rights, and their
allocation is so many inches per acre. This uses up all of the water, in most years, with a factor to allow for the drier
Senator Milne: Do they not have to acquire water downstream?
Mr. Klein: Yes. With all of those things in mind, the water has been allocated.
There is a moratorium on water allocations in southern Alberta. If you want to build a new plant that uses water,
you cannot get a water allocation. You have to find a way to buy water from somebody who has an allocation.
Senator Milne: I have a farm and I want to irrigate at night, rather than during the day, and I have so many inches
per acre allocated to me.
Is the time in which I can draw that water allocated, as well?
Is this one of the barriers to more efficient use of irrigation water?
Mr. Klein: No. In most districts, the allocation is an acre-foot and-a-half per acre. When you want water, you tell
the district water manager and the canal opens on to your farm for so many hours. The water flow is monitored, and
you get 2 inches or 4 inches at a time, that sort of thing.
From your perspective as a farmer, there is no particular advantage to watering at night versus the daytime, even if
it is more efficient use, as long as you have enough water. If it costs you more, you are probably not going to do it.
Senator Milne: Are there costs to this water?
Mr. Klein: There are costs. There are costs for you to apply it: to pump it and sprinkle it on your field. The water
itself is free. You pay a tax to the district that is as low as $7.50 an acre and as high as about $20 an acre. It is fixed. It is
like a part of your taxes. Whether you use the water, none of it, all of it, or part of it, that tax is the same.
Senator Milne: Okay. I am beginning to understand the Alberta system. It is a lot different in Ontario.
Mr. Klein: Yes. That is right. It is very much different.
The Chairman: That is the key: the fact that water does not cost anything and that we all think that water does not
You said that we would not employ the very careful method and use of water that Israel employs because it is too
costly. The practical truth is that it will not save anything, except that it will make our water use more efficient. It will
not solve the problem that our two previous guests discussed.
We have to make efficient use of water and be a little more careful with it and we must begin to make use of water
meters in the cities so that urban dwellers pay an internalized price of some kind for water.
You are an economist. Do you believe that statement to be true?
Mr. Klein: Yes. That is right.
In fact, for most everything that we deal with on a day-to-day basis is price related. It is not for making profit; it is to
The reason fuel prices go up when oil gets scarce is to allocate what is available. The reason hamburger goes up, if
beef gets short, is to allocate what is available.
It is these profitability and price signals that drive our economy.
The Chairman: In our previous study, this committee looked at the One-Tonne Challenge. We heard, from many
witnesses, that education is all very well, and moral suasion is all very well, and admonitions about responsibility are
all very well; but the only thing that will really affect people being more careful about what they use is its cost.
Do you agree with that?
Mr. Klein: Many things around us influence you, me, and everyone else. We want to be good citizens. Moral suasion
will help, and it will help a lot, but cost is a primary factor in most of our decisions. We use less when the cost goes up.
I do not want to overlook that if the price of water goes from zero to something higher to farmers, it could
drastically affect the survivability and financial feasibility of many farming operations.
The Chairman: Or change the nature of the crop.
Senator Milne: They are already in trouble.
Mr. Klein: That is right: They are already in trouble.
It is urgent that we begin to do research on that subject.
The Chairman: For example, it might not be the most efficient use of that water, and I am quoting you, ``to grow
sugar beets with it.''
Mr. Klein: That is right. It might not be, and it probably is not.
We have a sugar beet policy and we produce about 9 per cent of our sugar per year for domestic purposes. That is
part of our sugar policy.
Sugar beets demand a high use of water, and because we guarantee the sugar production, this much water then gets
used to produce it.
The Chairman: This is parenthetical. Please tell me if this is true: We have heard, in respect of the slight contretemps
between the Montana use of water and the southern Alberta use of water that the use of water by many Montana
farmers is profligate, that they literally flood their fields and that is their kind of irrigation.
Mr. Klein: Montana has not invested in water storage and transfer facilities to the extent that Alberta has, and has
not made the best use of the water that is available to them.
Alberta has invested a huge amount of public money to develop the infrastructure that our farmers use to their
advantage. Montana has not made a similar investment and as a result do not have the capability of getting as much
use out of their water.
The Chairman: If I understand it correctly, the water policy of the Government of Canada is that, in legislation,
water ought never to be referred to as ``a commodity.'' The government refers to water for ecological and
environmental reasons, the danger being that if it admits that water is a commodity, it will become subject to the
considerations under NAFTA, which would give other places free and uncontested access to it as a commodity.
Have you looked at that question?
Mr. Klein: I follow the debate. I think there is a lot that we do not understand about this situation. I do know that in
the Alberta legislation, the water markets cannot be used to transfer water from one basin to another. The trades must
take place along the same canal system because of environmental reasons.
It is my opinion that we do not have to commodify water that would allow, as you mentioned, the possible
international trade of water, to use the price system to allocate it better.
For example, in Edmonton, all the houses are monitored; they have meters; and people pay on the amount of use. In
Calgary, that is not the case. Only slightly over 50 per cent of the houses have meters. The rest pay just a base rate. In
Lethbridge, we all have meters.
Now, we could do the same thing with the farmers, because they use the highest percentage of water for
consumption. We can use the advantages of the price system to allocate this scarce resource, without making it into a
bulk commodity that is traded across the river systems.
The Chairman: You said that people were advertising the sale of their water in the newspaper.
Mr. Klein: That is right, but within the same district, within the same canal system.
The district and Alberta Environment must approve each trade. You cannot sell water from the St. Mary's River,
for example, to the Oldman River or the Bow River. That is not allowed under Alberta legislation.
From what I can tell, there is no intention of doing that. It is just to make the best use of the water that is available
in each tributary.
The Chairman: You do not think that the fact that trade goes on would give somebody a thin edge of a wedge, in
respect of NAFTA and access to water as a commodity.
Mr. Klein: I am not an expert in that area. I do not believe so, no.
Senator Buchanan: I find this discussion extremely interesting. To show you how much I know about water usage, I
am going to give you some statistics.
This is true, by the way. Of course, everything I tell you is true.
Senator Angus: It is all from Nova Scotia.
Senator Buchanan: No, no, these statistics are from here in Alberta.
Water used in 3,000 foot well drilled with mud and fractured stimulation:
Drilling surface hole uses 937 gallons; a long hole uses 4,303 gallons; water reserve in tank on lease, 3,500
gallons; total for drilling, 8,740 gallons.
Total water used in drilling and cementing operations: 10,877 gallons for a 3,000-foot well.
Multi-zone fracture stimulation: minimum of five zones fractured, 10,500 gallons.
Total water used in drilling, cementing and stimulation: 21,377 gallons.
The amount of daily water used on average by an 800 pound steer: 10.54 gallons.
The water used in mud drilling, cement displacement and fracture stimulation will provide enough water for
2,028 steers for one day.
Mr. Klein: What is your question?
Senator Buchanan: What I just said, is that true?
The Chairman: Senator Buchanan, what kind of well are you talking about, and where are you drilling.
Senator Buchanan: Here, in Alberta.
The Chairman: An oil well.
Senator Buchanan: An oil well.
The Chairman: And the figures come from?
Senator Buchanan: A fellow I just talked to, from Cape Breton, who was here.
Senator Angus: It must be true, then.
Senator Buchanan: This guy from Cape Breton told me. He was sitting over there, and he came to see me.
It does take an awful lot of water to drill an oil well.
The Chairman: So the question, Senator Buchanan, is?
Senator Buchanan: There is a method of extracting natural gas that does not require as much water, and that is coal
bed methane production. If that method is used then there would be water left over for those poor steers.
Mr. Klein: Well, that is right.
Senator Spivak: Can we get a copy of the statistics?
Senator Buchanan: The copies came from Mr. Jim Livingston, and I put my faith in him. He is from Cape Breton,
Where is this other one?
Damn it; I left it somewhere.
The Chairman: Well, while you are looking we will ask Professor Klein to continue his answer.
Senator Buchanan: Here it is.
Guy Boutilier, Alberta's Minister of Municipal Affairs, is quoted in the Calgary Herald:
Water is becoming one of the biggest issues facing the oil and gas industry. These days, there is only one thing
more important than black gold, and that's blue gold. A friend of mine, who I consider very knowledgeable in
drilling and the inventor and owner of nine drilling patents...
The man to Mr. Boutilier is referring is Jim Livingston. Mr. Livingston gave me the statistics and told me that there
is coal gas methane in Nova Scotia. He said that there are at least 80 trillion cubic feet in Pictou County and Cape
Breton County that can be drilled with the kind of drill patents that he has.
The Chairman: Well, one day, when we have some oil folks here, that would be a really terrific question. The people
that are here today are experts on water.
Mr. Klein: Those figures could well be true.
The use of water for flushing out oil wells is a rather recent technology that has added to our availability and
recovery of another very precious and scarce resource, which is oil. Water used to be a cheap way of doing this because
water had not been a scarce resource; however, water became a scarce resource in a recent drought.
Water for livestock has not been much of a problem, certainly not in the areas where we drill for oil, which tends to
be away from the drier areas of our province.
I believe that the Alberta government and others are certainly considering coal bed methane and trying to find ways
that would allow recovery of oil and gas as cheaply as possible without using the water to the same extent. I am
certainly no expert in that area.
Mr. Fitzpatrick: I have two quick comments.
The Montana issue on water comes from two different areas. Montana has gone through litigation with their First
Nations community, and although five cases have been though the courts Montana has not won one of them. This has
changed the whole water dynamics down there.
As your committee sits on these issues of the environment, the first issue must be the community.
The second issue is coal bed methane. Lethbridge is 140 kilometres from the Rockies, and that area contains one
continuous coal seam, with untapped coal bed methane.
Perhaps we should look to others who develop coal bed methane before we consider developing it, because coal bed
methane and water go hand in hand. It is my understanding you have to pull the water out before you bring the coal
bed methane out.
If we look to Wyoming and Montana, where coal bed methane extraction has been done we will see the
environmental consequences of this method. If you balance the ecological effects of harvesting coal bed methane
against the value of it, you are not really any further ahead.
I just returned from Wyoming and even though I am not an expert on this method, I know that the process has had
its own problems. We should take our time before we begin this process and learn from the mistakes of others.
Now, I will go back to the peanut gallery, and I will refrain from coming up anymore.
Senator Buchanan: May I make a comment on this.
What you are saying is absolutely right. Jim Livingston agrees with what you just said.
There are new methods of coal bed methane extraction that do not require the extraction of all that water. Mr.
Livingston has nine patents that have been recognized in Wyoming and in Montana, which they are now using. The
improved procedure uses a type of drill to get down to the methane beds that then pulls the methane and then the
fractured coal to the surface without having to pull out all of the water with it.
The Chairman: Senator Buchanan, I am going to interrupt you because these people are not coal bed methane folks.
Senator Buchanan: Well, the reason I mention it is because he brought it up.
The Chairman: No.
Thursday morning, we are going to visit the very place to see that type of mining. Your questions will be appropriate
Senator Spivak, you wanted to continue your previous line, I think.
Senator Spivak: No, I do not. Thank you. That is fine.
Senator Adams: Does anybody know anything about Senator Sparrow's book?
The Chairman: Senator Sparrow's study is called Soils at Risk?
Mr. Klein: Yes, of course.
The Chairman: Thank you very much. We very much appreciate your time. We will be back to you with more
questions and I hope another visit. Thank you very kindly.