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2013 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study: Urban-dwellers Ill-prepared For Impact Of Mother Nature On Water

Urban sprawl and paved paradise threaten clean fresh water today and tomorrow, says leading expert

TORONTO, March 14, 2013 /CNW/ - While nine-in-10 (90 per cent) Canadians believe that an extreme weather-related disaster is possible in their community, town or city, few are aware of the consequences if excess water caused by rain and snow storms is not managed properly. In towns and cities across Canada, paved surfaces, overloaded storm water management infrastructure and extreme weather conditions dramatically increase the challenge of managing excess water caused by storms.

"Extreme storms have a direct impact on water, as storm water runoff can drag contaminants into local waterways and pollute water bodies that are important for recreation and water supplies," says Bob Sandford, chair of Canadian Partnership Initiative of the UN Water for Life Decade. "All the impermeable surfaces in cities create the ideal condition for excess water to overwhelm our already strained municipal storm water systems. Municipalities, property developers and homeowners must work together to better manage storm water."

Ahead of World Water Day on March 22, the sixth annual 2013 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study, commissioned by the RBC Blue Water Project and administered by GlobeScan, found that while two-thirds of Canadians (68 per cent) say that we should be prepared for the possibility of a major disaster that affects storm water management systems, only one-in-five (19 per cent) believe that major actions are required now.

What are Canadians willing to do to help?

This is not just a municipal planning issue. Sandford says that individual Canadians could be doing their part to manage excess water from rain and snowstorms around their homes now. Yet, according to the study, few Canadians have taken preventive measures such as landscaping with grading (23 per cent) or replacing paved surfaces with water-permeable materials such as interlocking stone or gravel (seven per cent).

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