ProjectEau : Multisectoral and multifactorial projection of Quebec’s future water needs using a hydroinformatics system

This project aims to provide Quebec with a method for estimating the current and future water needs of the main economic sectors while considering the impacts of climate disruption and socio-economic development on water availability. 

Project details
Scientific program
2020-2025 programming
Theme(s) and priority(s)
Water Availability
Start and duration
April 2023 • March 2025
Project Status
Principal(s) investigator(s)
Paul Célicourt
Alain Rousseau
Philippe Kabore
Sylvio Gumiere
Université Laval


Recent droughts in Quebec testify to the potential threat and possible impact of climate change on all of its economic sectors. The latest Hydroclimatic Atlas of Southern Québec corroborates this finding, anticipating an increase in the severity and duration of low water levels (summer and fall) and increasing pressure in reconciling water uses in a future climate. Similarly, as part of the RADEAU project, Groupe AGECO observed: 

  • An increase in the frequency of conflicts of use between the agricultural and residential sectors as well as numerous previous conflicts between the residential sector and the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors 

  • Some growth in water demand from the residential and industrial sectors as well as from the practice of irrigation over the past decade

  • Strict irrigation water quality criteria imposed on vegetable growers by food safety programs  

In light of these findings, it is anticipated that water use conflicts in Quebec will be amplified in the future, given the climatic disturbances arising from the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the productivity of Quebec’s various economic sectors (agricultural, municipal, institutional, commercial and industrial) in response to demographic and economic growth.
In this context of increasing pressure on water resources as well as water availability and quality issues, this project aims to equip Quebec with the capacity to anticipate the future needs of different categories of water users while considering the influence of climate change and the productivity of each sector in response to socio-economic growth.


The overall aim of the project is to propose and evaluate a simple calculation method to project the future water needs of the main economic sectors (agricultural, municipal, institutional, commercial, and industrial) of Quebec. 


  • A literature review on existing water need projection methods to determine the most appropriate ones (by sector) in Quebec and the data necessary for their implementation.

  • Establishment, for a pilot watershed—the Nicolet River basin—of an inventory of available local data (climatic and socio-economic) and, where appropriate, a strategy for generating the data that is necessary but not available, to be organized in a shared database. 

  • Adaptation of the methods chosen based on the current and future specificities of the different sectors and the climate conditions in Quebec through a participatory approach and through scenarios in order to propose a methodological approach to projecting water needs that will be applicable at several spatial scales in Quebec and even transferable to the entire province. 

  • Evaluation of the proposed methodology at several spatial scales (e.g. municipalities, watershed) using a prototype geoweb tool for the Nicolet River basin. 

Expected results

  • A literature review to obtain a detailed understanding of the accumulated body of knowledge on water need projections.

  • A shared specialized database compatible with socio-economic scenarios in a future climate.

  • A simple method for projecting the water needs of different categories of water users in Quebec under future climatic and socio-economic conditions. 

  • Training of highly qualified personnel (1 master’s student, 1 doctoral student, 2 graduate-level interns and 1 research officer).  


Other participants

  • Jérémie Roques (ROBVQ)

  • Mikaël Guillou (MAPAQ)

Benefits for adaptation

More precise knowledge of the current and future water needs of Quebec’s economic sectors and a comprehensive and practical understanding of the environmental and socio-economic factors that influence these needs.

A methodology to monitor changes in different economic sectors as they arise in the future, and a better understanding of the magnitude of the expected changes in water use.  

For the Nicolet River basin, the project opens the door to a potential linkage of the results of the water need projection (demand) with the Hydroclimatic Atlas of Southern Québec, which defines water availability (supply), by superimposing the quantitative estimation of allocations for the various sectors targeted by the call for projects in periods of interest.

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