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CANADA

Country Profile

 

 

18th Congress

Hosted 53rd International Executive Council meeting & 18th International Congress on Irrigation and Drainage, Montreal, July 2002


A. NATIONAL COMMITTEE
1.

Mr. Laurie C. Tollefson
Secretary - Treasurer, Canadian National Committee, ICID (CANCID)
Science Manager, Agricultural Water Management
901 McKenzie Street South, P.O. Box 700
Outlook, Saskatchewan SOL 2NO

Tel : +1 306 867 5404
Fax : +1 306 867 9656
E-mail : laurie.tollefson@agr.gc.ca
Website : http://www.cancid.org

B. NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN AND PRESIDENT
2.

Dr. Chandra A. Madramootoo Ph.D., Ing.
President, CANCID and President Hon., ICID
James McGill Professor
Dean, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
McGill University, Macdonald campus
21,111 Lakeshore Road
Ste. Anne de Bellevue QC H9X 3V9

Tel : +1 514-398-7707
Fax : +1 514-398-7766
E-mail : chandra.madramootoo@mcgill.ca

C. ICID OFFICE BEARERS - PRESENT
3. VP TollefsonMr. Laurie C. Tollefson
Vice President, ICID
Secretary - Treasurer, Canadian National Committee, ICID (CANCID)
Science Manager, Agricultural Water Management
901 McKenzie Street South, P.O. Box 700
Outlook, Saskatchewan SOL 2NO

Tel : +1 306 867 5404
Fax : +1 306 867 9656
E-mail : laurie.tollefson@agr.gc.ca
  HONORAIRE
4. Dr. Chandra A. Madramootoo Ph.D., Ing.
President Hon., ICID
James McGill Professor
Dean, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
McGill University, Macdonald campus
21,111 Lakeshore Road
Ste. Anne de Bellevue QC H9X 3V9

Tel : +1 514-398-7707
Fax : +1 514-398-7766
E-mail : chandra.madramootoo@mcgill.ca
5. Mr. C.J. McAndrews
Vice President Hon., ICID
9015-140 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5R OJ7

 

Tel : +1 403 482 6517
Fax : +1 403 482 2635

6. Dr. H.M. Hill
Vice President Hon., ICID
836 University Drive
Saskatoon, Saskatchwan S7N 0J6

 

Tel : +1 306 584 8542
Fax : +1 306 584 8542
E-mail : h.l.hill@sasktel.net

7. Prof. Chandra A. Madramootoo
Vice President Hon., ICID
(For address see sl. no. 2)
8.

Prof. André Musy
Vice President Hon., ICID

E-mail : andre.musy@gmail.com

D. MEMBERS OF ICID COMMITTEES/WORKING GROUPS
9.

Mrs. Istballe M. Prouix
(For address see sl. no. 1)


E-mail: iproulx@idrc.ca

Associate Editor : EB-JOUR

10. Mr. Laurie C. Tollefson
Vice President, ICID
(For address see sl. no. 3)


Chmn : PFC, TF-BIO-ENERGY
Member : WG-CROP (Vice Chairman); WG-POVERTY, PCSO

11.

Mr. Francois Chrétien
(For address see sl. no. 1)

 

Tel : +1 418 648 4774, +1 418 648 7342, +1 418 208 3590 (Mobile)
E-mail :
fancois.chretien@agr.gc.ca

 

Member : WG-ON-FARM

 

Directory Contents


COUNTRY PROFILE - CANADA

 

General

 

Canada extends across the continent of North America, from Newfoundland on the Atlantic coast to British Columbia on the Pacific coast. About 28 million people live in Canada of which 80 per cent live within 300 kilometers of Canada’s southern border. Much of the rest of Canada is uninhabited or thinly populated because the country has rugged terrain and a severe climate. Over three-fourths of Canada’s people live in cities or towns. Canada has six cultural and economic regions. They are (1) the Atlantic Provinces, (2) Quebec, (3) Ontario, (4) the Prairie Provinces, (5) British Columbia, and (6) the Territories. With its capital in Ottawa, Canada has two official languages – English and French. About 67% speak only English, 17% speak only French, while 15% speak both languages.

 

Land and Climate

 

Canada covers more than half of North America. It borders Alaska on the northwest and the rest of the continental United States on the south. From east to west, Canada extends 5,187 kilometers from the rocky coast of Newfoundland to the St. Elias Mountains in the Yukon Territory. Canada has eight major land regions. They are (1) the Pacific Ranges and Lowlands, (2) the Rocky Mountains, (3) the Arctic Islands, (4) the Interior Plains, (5) the Canadian Shield, (6) the Hudson Bay Lowlands, (7) the St. Lawrence Lowlands, and (8) the Appalachian Region. Canada’s northern location gives the country a cold climate, but conditions vary considerably from region to region. During the winter, westerly winds bring frigid Arctic air to most of Canada. Average January temperatures are below – 18o C in two-thirds of the country. Northern Canada has short, cool summers. In the northern Arctic Islands, July temperatures average below 4o C. Southern Canada has summers that are long enough and warm enough for growing crops. Summer winds from the Gulf of Mexico often bring hot weather to southern Ontario and the St. Lawrence River Valley. Some coastal areas of British Columbia receive more than 250 centimeters of precipitation annually. Most of it falls during the autumn and winter. The Canadian prairies have from 25 to 50 centimeters of precipitation a year, mainly as rain during the summer. These conditions help make the prairies ideal for growing grain. Southeastern Canada has a humid climate. The average annual precipitation ranges from about 75 centimeters in southern Ontario to about 150 centimeters on the coasts of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. More than 250 centimeters of snow covers eastern Canada in winter.

 

Rivers

 

Large numbers of rivers, waterfalls, and lakes add to the scenic beauty of the Canadian countryside. Until the first railways were built during 1800’s, the rivers and lakes also provided the only means of reaching Canada’s vast interior. Canada has four major drainage areas or basins; (1) the Atlantic Basin, (2) the Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait Basin, (3) the Arctic Basin, and (4) the Pacific Basin. The Atlantic Basin covers about 1,800,000 square kilometers in eastern Canada. The most important waterway in this area is the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River system. The Great Lakes, the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world, cover 244,780 square kilometers. The St. Lawrence River flows about 1,150 kilometers from Lake Ontario to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean. Dams on the major tributaries of the St. Lawrence provide much hydroelectric power for Quebec. The Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait Basin covers about a third of mainland Canada. The chief river in this basin is the Nelson, which flows from Lake Winnipeg to Hudson Bay. The Arctic Basin includes parts of British Columbia, the Prairie Provinces, and the territories. The Mackenzie River system drains about half the basin. The sources of this river system, Canada’s longest, are high in the Rocky Mountains, where the Peace and Athabasca rivers begin. The Pacific Basin covers much of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory. The longest river in the southern part of the Pacific Basin is the Fraser. It flows through a deep valley from the Canadian Rockies to Vancouver, where it empties into the Pacific. The Columbia River rises in the mountains of southeastern British Columbia and flows south into the United States. Hydroelectric plants operate at several points on the Columbia.

 

Agriculture

 

Agriculture accounts for 3 % of Canada’s GDP. Canada has about 300,000 farms. The average farm size is 232 hectares. Wheat, beef cattle, milk, and pigs combine to account for more than half of Canada’s total farm income. Other leading products include barley, chickens and eggs, maize, and rapeseed. More than three-fourths of Canada’s farmland is in the Prairie Provinces. Saskatchewan produces more than half of Canada’s wheat, and farmers in Alberta and Manitoba grow most of the rest. Barley, flaxseed, oats, rapeseed, and rye grow in a belt north of Canada’s wheat-growing areas.

 

Water Resources

 

Canada is extraordinarily rich in water resources. Almost 25% of all surface fresh water in the world is in Canada. The country has more water per capita than any other large country in the world. The following table summarizes water withdrawal and consumption from the year 1981 to 1991.

 

Table : Water Withdrawal by use and consumption, in million cubic meters

Use   

1981 1986 1991
Agriculture 3,125 3,559 3,991
Mining 648 593 363
Manufacturing 9,937 7,984 7,282
Thermal power 19,281 25,364 28,357
Municipal 4,263 4,717  5,102
Total withdrawal  37,254 42,217 45,095
Water consumption/capita/year   3,892 4,279 5,357

 

In 1991, for an estimated Canadian population of 28 million and a total water consumption of 5,357 million cubic meters, each Canadian consumed 191.3 cubic meters of water per year or about 0.52 cubic meters per person per day. Of the total water withdrawn in 1991, agriculture accounted for 8.8 per cent and this proportion has remained fairly constant since 1981. The prairie region has the highest water use per person in Canada and the second highest total water withdrawal. This is mainly because of irrigation to produce food for domestic consumption and for export. Although, Canadian irrigated agriculture uses only 8% of the total national water withdrawal, 77% of this amount is consumed through evaporation and lost to other uses.

 

Irrigation

 

Of Canada’s 33.5 million hectares of arable land, only 842,000 ha are irrigated. In the province with the most irrigated land, Alberta, 40% of the agricultural output comes from 4 % of the province’s arable land that is irrigated. Many of Canada’s major crops are also irrigated crops, such as cereals, oilseeds, alfalfa, non-cereal forage, sugar beets and potatoes. As the price of land continues to rise, producers are looking to increase crop yields per unit area of land. Irrigation is often the tool used to meet this objective. The following table gives the extent of land irrigated in Canada, province-wise :

 

Table : Lands Irrigated in Canada

Province Area irrigated, ha % of total
Maritimes 4,800 0.6
Quebec 33,000  4.6
Ontario 65,000  8.0
Manitoba  21,900 3.0
Saskatchewan  92,200 11.0
Alberta  510,600 61.0
British Columbia  114,000 13.5
Total 841,700 19% increase since 1991

 

Out of the total water use in agriculture, 85% accounts for irrigation, while 15% for livestock watering. The overall water use efficiency is 75% in the Eastern Irrigation District of Alberta, which is typical for irrigated agriculture in western Canada. Irrigation is needed mainly in the drier parts of Canada, such as the southern regions of Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan (accounting for 84.5 of all irrigation in Canada). The southern regions of Alberta and Saskatchewan receive less than 350 mm of precipitation per year. In general, without irrigation, a summer fallow rotation must be practiced. Most irrigation in these regions is by use of center-pivots, side wheel-role systems or flood irrigation for grains, oilseeds, forage crops and sugar beets. In the provinces of Ontario and Quebec which receive about 900 mm of precipitation every year, use of controlled drainage and/or subsurface irrigation is prevalent. It has become common for farmlands that have artificial subsurface drainage systems, to use these buried pipelines to deliver water to the root zone.

 

Drainage

 

About 8 million ha of land in Canada is drained. Most of such land is under surface drainage. In Ontario and Quebec more than 2.5 million ha are subsurface drained. These two provinces have very intensive cereal, grain, forage and vegetable crop production where the soils have very low hydraulic conductivities. In addition, the cropland is very flat and the region (eastern Canada) experiences high amounts of precipitation that occurs mostly during the spring snowmelt period and the fall. Since the soils are very heavy, mainly clays and clay loams with some fine sands and silts, and with the conditions described above, artificial subsurface drainage is necessary. Surface drainage consists mainly of open field ditches, main drains, land leveling or smoothing, bedded lands and ridge and furrow cropping. Subsurface drainage consists of mostly corrugated plastic pipe systems installed to an average depth of about 1.2 m below the soil surface. Generally, 75 or 100 mm diameter pipes are used for lateral drains, and the collectors are 100 mm in diameter and increase as the area drained increases. Most collector outlets are 250-300 mm diameter.

 

Environmental and Ecological Concerns

 

Irrigation may lead to water quality problems. Improper irrigation practices may degrade the soil structure and quality (soil salinity problems), thus compounding many of the water quality issues that are associated with agriculture. Challenge before the water resources sector in Canada is to minimize the negative effect of agriculture and agri-food sector on the water quality and increase water use efficiency. To address these concerns, water laws and policies exist in Canada. For example, the Federal Irrigation Act is the original water law in Western Canada; Water Resources and the Environmental Protection Acts in Ontario; while in Quebec a new water management policy is being prepared by taking a holistic view towards water resources management in the province of Quebec.

 

Integrated Watershed Management

 

In Canada, 10 themes are being considered for integrated water management. These are – sustainability, stewardship, ecosystem approach, enhancing effectiveness and efficiency, information and understanding, partnerships and stakeholders, impact assessment, adaptive management, anticipation and prevention, and alternative dispute resolution. Several provinces including Quebec and Ontario are undertaking integrated watershed management projects. Agricultural producers are being encouraged to develop and implement farm conservation plans. Some provinces now require fertilizer management plans. The Canadian Constitution gives the provinces the responsibility of managing the majority of all the natural resources, including water. Although Canada may appear to have a favourable water supply-demand balance, in reality the situation is disguised by wide variations. More than 60% of river flow goes north where only 10% of the Canadian population lives.

 

ICID and Canada

 

Canada became a member of ICID in 1956 and has been ever since pursuing the ICID mission actively through its National Committee and its members. Mr. Aly M. Shady has been the President of ICID for the tenure 1996-1999 and Dr. Chandra A. Madramootoo for the tenure 2008-2011. Five Vice Presidents have also graced ICID as Vice Presidents. These are – Dr. K.W. Hill (1960-63), Dr. T.H. Anstey (1974-77), Mr. C.J. McAndrews (1980-83), Dr. H.M. Hill (1987-90), Mr. Aly M. Shady (1990-93), and Dr. Chandra A. Madramootoo (2000-2003).

 

The Canadian National Committee of ICID (CANCID) has had the distinction of hosting the 27th IEC meeting in Banff in 1976 and 40th IEC meeting in Ottawa in 1989. In conjunction with the 40th IEC meeting, the 2nd Pan-American Regional Conference was also organized in 1989. ICID’s 18th International Congress on Irrigation and Drainage is also being hosted by CANCID at Montreal in the year 2002.