Overall, North America is well endowed in its water supplies. But, though a general abundance of water exists in the region, some areas commonly experience water shortages.
The drier parts of the Western United States
are often in need of water. The Canadian prairie is also very dry, and valleys in British Columbia often receive relatively little water.
Because water is so abundant, it is also quite inexpensive. This and other factors have meant that water consumption in North America is extremely high. Canadians use twice as much water per capita as do Europeans.
Municipalities consume 11% of all of Canada's water. About three-fourths of Canadians depend on surface water
supplies, while one-fourth depend on ground water. Both of these sources are becoming threatened, leading to concerns about depleting natural water supplies.
North America has a much higher quality of water than most other areas of the world. The largest quality problems are in the rural areas of the US and Canada, where millions do not have sufficient amounts of clean water.
However, problems exist in cities as well. A fifth of all Americans get their water from a
facility that fails to meet the national requirements on water quality.
Some common pollutants in the water include coliform bacteria, lead, copper, and other toxic chemical substances.
The Great Lakes, which are located on the US-Canada border, contain 18% of the world's supply of fresh water. Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario provide an amazing natural resource of tremendous benefit to North America.