Freshwater Protection

Healthy Water, Healthy People: New Brunswickers’ concerns and attitudes about fresh water and preparedness for extreme weather events

Breaking News: March 1st, 2017

A majority of New Brunswick citizens are very concerned about water pollution, according to a new comprehensive survey conducted by our Director of Climate Change and Energy Solutions, Dr. Louise Comeau, on New Brunswickers’ concerns and attitudes about fresh water and preparedness for extreme weather events

 The poll found that 79 per cent of those asked said they were worried about pollution going into rivers, lakes and streams, both of which is allowed by the Department of Environment and illegal dumping and runoff.

Survey questions focused on freshwater perspectives in the province and our attitudes on preparedness in the face of extreme weather.The 500-person survey, conducted for the Conservation Council by Corporate Research Associates, also found 70% of New Brunswickers strongly believe governments are mismanaging fresh water.

This survey remedies the issue of larger, national surveys that tend to combine results for all maritimes provinces by limiting data analysis on small numbers of regional respondents.

It’s no surprise the most cited word was “clean” and “beauty” when respondents were asked what they loved most about their favourite lake, river or stream in New Brunswick. When asked what worried them, the most cited word was “pollution” and other associated words like “contamination.”
In New Brunswick, 44% of residents said they have experienced a boil water order. That’s double the national average of 24%. This information ties into respondents attitudes over water quality concerns and the requirement for greater investment in infrastructure, along with more help from the powers that be, with 92% of respondents believing we need to invest in drinking water supply.

The Conservation Council and Freshwater Protection


Water underpins our daily lives as it flows dominantly through our culture, our economy and our environment. Its protection has never been more important as it is today. It can be said that climate change has been and will continue to manifest itself through water. In New Brunswick, this means more water when we can’t handle it and less in times when we are desperate.

The province of New Brunswick does not currently have a comprehensive strategy to manage our freshwater resources. The Conservation Council made water a priority in 2010 when our Freshwater Protection Program was launched.

About the Program

CCNB’s Freshwater Protection Program has been developed to research smart and effective water policies in the face of increasing societal demand and climate change. The aim of our Freshwater Program is to advance holistic watershed management of our water resources – including protection of critical ecological services – and foster significant citizen engagement in this management process.

We have been very active in the public discourse on water policy:

  • We have been in the heart of the public debate on shale gas, raising concerns over the industry’s thirst for freshwater, the vast volumes of toxic wastewater produced, and the threat of pollution to our drinking water, rivers, lakes and streams.
  • We have advocated for the protection of wetlands and defended New Brunswick’s Wetland Conservation Policy.
  • We have worked closely with watershed associations to defend the NB Water Classification program; a program developed by the province and watershed groups to develop enforceable water quality standards for many of the province’s rivers.
  • We have come to the defence of the waters with communities throughout the province on local issues such as mining, forestry and quarries.
  • We have reignited a priority to engage communities on the health of the St. John River through an eight-community tour to identify local issues and opportunities for improvement.

Looking to the future our Freshwater Protection program hopes to incorporate a focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

For more information about the Freshwater Protection Program, please contact Stephanie Merrill, Program Director, at 506.458.8747 or water [at] conservationcouncil [dot] ca

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