2013 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study: Urban-dwellers ill-prepared for impact of Mother Nature on water. (CNW Group/RBC)

2013 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study: Urban-dwellers ill-prepared for stormwater impacts.
(CNW Group/RBC)

On March 14, the Royal Bank of Canada released a study on Canadian water attitudes. In Canada, aging infrastructure, increasing impervious surfaces, and more extreme weather events are making stormwater runoff an increasing problem. However, while 90% of Canadians express concern about extreme weather events in their communities, few are aware of the consequences of improperly managed stormwater.

Although 68% of Canadians agree that the country should be prepared for a major disaster affecting stormwater systems, only 19% say that major actions are required now. In fact, 80% are unwilling to pay for necessary stormwater system upgrades. However, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimates that replacing aging water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure that is in “fair” or “very poor condition” will cost the country $80 billion.

The results show a disconnect between the recognition of damage caused by major storm events and the need to prepare by upgrading the country’s infrastructure with sustainable, resilient systems. These systems could also help prevent day-to-day damage caused by urban stormwater. Perhaps the disconnect is due to the fact that only 15% of Canadians claim to be “very aware” of the condition of municipal water infrastructure.

In addition, few Canadians have taken the initiative to infiltrate stormwater on their properties. Only 7% have installed pervious pavement, and nearly half of Canadians say their ideal house has a paved driveway or yard. Furthermore, only 12% of respondents indicate that they would consider permeable surfaces.