Nova Scotia Launches Water Strategy

Department of Environment

Published Thursday, December 16, 2010

Water for Life: Nova Scotia’s Water Resource Management Strategy provides a road map for water management in Nova Scotia over the next 10 years and beyond.


Nova Scotians care about their water and want to make sure it is protected. They know that water is not an unlimited resource. This water strategy will guide us in the management of water for the benefit of communities, businesses, industries, First Nations, and individuals. It ensures that we’re staying on our path to sustainable prosperity.Sterling Belliveau, Environment Minister

The water strategy values water as a meaningful part of our lives and not just as an economical resource.Janelle Frail, executive director Nova Scotia Environmental Network

The new water resource management strategy creates an opportunity to create cutting-edge and innovative integrated water resource management in Nova Scotia. Shannon Sterling, assistant professor, Environmental Science, Dalhousie University

Quick Facts

  • The province made a commitment under the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act in 2007 to developing a comprehensive water resource management strategy with a target of 2010.
  • Water for Life outlines 29 actions to be achieved in the next 10 years.
  • A core commitment of the strategy is the principle of integrated resource management, which encompasses three areas of action:
    • Understand the quality and quantity of our water : Understanding how watersheds work, the impacts of activities on water, how much water the province has, how it’s being used, and what effect climate change will have
    • Protect the quality and quantity of our water: Addressing the needs of the natural environment, as well as people, both physically and economically
    • Engage in caring for our water: Providing education, training, information, and participation opportunities
  • The first project under the water strategy is the watershed assessment program. The Hydrologic Systems Research Group at Dalhousie University, led by Shannon Sterling, has been awarded a $19,000 grant to collect information on Nova Scotia’s major watersheds and create a tool to assess the state of the watersheds in Nova Scotia.
  • The strategy is the result of three years of consultation with people, community and environmental groups, the Mi’kmaq, municipalities, and other government departments.
    • Safe, good quality water is important for service-based industries, which make up 75 per cent of Nova Scotia’s gross domestic product.
    • Forty per cent of Nova Scotia’s population relies on groundwater from wells or springs for drinking water. The other 60 per cent rely on municipal and public drinking water supplies, which draw water from both groundwater and surface water sources.
    • About 45 per cent of Nova Scotians rely on on-site sewage disposal (septic) systems for their household wastewater systems.
    • Nova Scotia has 13,000 kkilometres of coastline, more than 6,700 lakes, hundreds of rivers and wetlands, and abundant groundwater resources.
    • Canada’s water consumption rate per household is the second highest in the world. We use on average 328 litres per person per day.
  • In October 2009, the Canadian Council for Ministers of the Environment endorsed a Canada-wide vision for water: Strategic Directions for Water to help ensure that Canadians have access to water that is clean, safe and sufficient for their needs in ways that also maintain the integrity of ecosystems.
  • In August 2010, all premiers endorsed the Council of Federation Water Charter, which recognizes the importance of water to life and the economy across Canada.

Learn More

Media Contact

Michelle Lucas
Department of Environment
Cell: 902-456-3576


Jessica Paterson-McDonald, water strategy co-ordinator for the Department of Environment, talks to the audience during the water strategy announcement.
Download high-res version
Environment Sterling Belliveau is scrummed by media after the water strategy announcement.
Download high-res version
Environment Sterling Belliveau speaks with people who attended the water strategy announcement.
Download high-res version
Walter Regan, president of the Sackville Rivers Association, chats with John Theakston.
Download high-res version
Jessica Paterson-McDonald, water strategy co-ordinator for the Department of Environment, talks with people after the announcement.
Download high-res version


Environment, Minister, Sterling Belliveau announces new provincial water strategy
Jessica Paterson McDonald, Water Strategy Coordinator, speaks about consultation process
Janelle Frail, executive director, Nova Scotia Environmental Network interview
Minister Belliveau interview