Water Security
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What is the link between water security and climate change?

Water Security is defined as the reliable availability of an acceptable quantity and quality of water for health, livelihoods and production, coupled with an acceptable level of water-related risks.  Climate change affects the short and long-term availability and quality of our drinking water. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and strength of storms, increase dry cycles, increase lake evaporation rates, and create a longer growing season. Extreme precipitation or flooding can increase water-borne pathogens, and reduce water quality.

Dry and hot (drought) situations can put pressure on agricultural and industrial activities that use water. Drought restrictions and water conservation become important when community water resources must be reserved for environmental needs (e.g. fish).  Low stream flows can also affect hydroelectric production.

How does the issue of water security affect our health?

Climate change can affect the amount of water available for drinking, irrigation, electrical generation, food production, and our environment. Over the long term, these conditions may lead to a lack of safe drinking water, decreased food production, and a decrease in access to safe water related recreation. These results can negatively impact your health. The most common water-borne diseases in British Columbia are Campylobacteriosis (Campylobacter), Giardiasis (Giardia), Cryptosporidiosis (Cryptosporidium), Shigatoxigenic E-Coli Infection (E-Coli), and Salmonellosis (Salmonella).

It is not always possible to tell the difference between food- and water-borne cases of these illnesses.  We know that Giardia and Cryptosporidium are most often transmitted through water. In 2015 (as of August 2015), 52 Giardia infections, and two Cryptosporidium infections were reported in IH. Common effects of these infections are diarrhea, cramps, fever, chills, headache, etc. However, the impacts of water-borne diseases can be quite severe. For example, in Walkerton, Ontario an E-Coli contamination in 2000 resulted in seven deaths from water contaminated by runoff from a nearby farm.

What is Interior Health doing to help?

Our Health Protection Office regulates and monitors public facilities and aspects of the environment that have a direct impact on public health, including water safety and communicable disease control. Check out Interior Health’s website for information on Drinking Water and Recreational Water quality, including water sample results and water advisories. Also, check out Interior Health’s information on gastrointestinal outbreak material since water-borne illnesses can be contagious. 


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