Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper last year visited Washington make his case for the Keystone XL oil pipeline planned from Alberta oil fields. TransCanada's planned pipeline has been the source of heated debate on both sides of the border, though Canadian Ambassador to the United States Gary Doer said future debates will be over fresh water.
"I think five years from now we will be spending a lot of our time diplomatically and a lot of our work on dealing with water," he said in an interview with the Edmonton Journal, published Monday.
Doer said the United States and Canada have claims to 20 percent of the fresh water in the world in the five Great Lakes and share borders with three oceans. Apart from Keystone XL, he said both sides are at odds over liquefied natural gas shipments through waters off the New Brunswick coast.
Both sides, he said, have "a lot of water" and the issue in the future will likely overshadow current discussions on Keystone XL.
"There will be pressure on water quality and water quantity," he said. "I think it will make a debate about going from 85 to 86 pipelines look silly."