When I was a boy, we drank water from lakes and streams without a thought. I never imagined that one day we would buy water in bottles for more than we pay for gasoline. Canada has more fresh water per capita than any nation, but many indigenous communities don't have access to clean drinking water. Surely, in a nation with so much natural wealth, we should expect better appreciation, treatment and protection of the air, water, soil and rich biological diversity that our health, prosperity and happiness depend on. The right to live in a healthy environment is recognized by more than 110 nations -- but not Canada.
I remember coming home for the holidays a few years ago, around the time of Idle No More, and learning about Shoal Lake through the council. The water we drink in Winnipeg comes from Shoal Lake First Nation, yet the community members themselves cannot drink their own water! I was devastated and angry at such a clear injustice.
Most Canadians start to forget the feeling of lounging in warm air and diving into refreshing turquoise waters this time of year. Whether you're planning an upcoming trip or are vicariously travelling from your sofa, these water wonderlands from around the world are guaranteed to take you on an adventure.
90 per cent of all new wells drilled in B.C. that would supply the province's proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry will be fracked. Fracking demands massive amounts of freshwater, industrializes large areas of northeast B.C. and has major impacts on the climate. So, how is the B.C. government getting away with touting this industry as a "clean" energy resource?
It is bad enough that the government allows multinational companies to privatize a public resource, it is even worse that taxpayers are being hosed by charging so little for it. Several industries get a total free ride when it comes to taking our water. Those who do pay for taking water are charged a paltry $3.71 per million litres used. This is not a typo.
The Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act sets high standards but without the adequate funding, leaves communities without the necessary tools to meet those standards. Despite repeated pledges from the federal government to ensure clean drinking water, there are routinely more than 100 water advisories in effect in First Nation communities, with some living under advisories for up to 20 years.
Access to water is one of the biggest challenges facing the planet today. We have to address the underlying causes, like climate change, overconsumption, waste and pollution. However, that alone won't overcome the problem -- not in time for millions of people in need of fresh water. Fortunately there's some incredible technology emerging to recycle or create new sources of water--dowsing rods for the 21st Century. eventy-one per cent of the world's surface is covered by water. But the vast majority of that is ocean--salt water we can neither drink nor use to irrigate our crops.
Home to 60 per cent of the world's lakes, we are a nation with water at its heart. But some thought leaders say Canadians are losing an awareness of, and passion for, our water resources. It's a connection we need to rekindle for our country to successfully tackle some serious threats to the treasure that is our water supply.
In many areas of Canada, like Ontario, the levels of potentially pathogenic microbes can flourish and overwhelm our water treatment system leading to boil water orders or worse, outbreaks. These moments are thankfully rare in part to the addition of a particular chemical, chlorine. For decades, chlorine has been used to keep drinking water safe and is standard practice in many parts of Canada and the world. But it's not a perfect system and faces many hurdles. The most important of these is ensuring water is safe over the tens to hundreds of kilometres of pipes from the facility to the tap.
How long can you go without water? You could probably survive a few weeks without water for cooking. If you stopped washing, the threat to your life might only come from people who can't stand the smell. But most people won't live for more than three days without water to drink. It makes sense: our bodies are about 65 per cent water. According to the United Nations, about 750 million people lack access to safe water -- that's one in nine!
Twenty-two years ago, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 22 to be World Water Day. In a world is facing a severe and growing water crisis without a roadmap, this day is more important than ever. Our collective abuse of water has caused the planet to enter "a new geologic age" -- a "planetary transformation" akin to the retreat of the glaciers more than 11,000 years ago. This is according to 500 renowned scientists brought together in Bonn at the invitation of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on May 2013.
This Sunday is World Water Day. We're pretty lucky in Canada -- we don't really have to think about fresh water. When we need it, we turn on the tap and it's there. In summer we can jump into it and run through it. In winter we can glide over it or build it into sculptures. There are many amazing Canadians who refuse to take this gift for granted.
Someone recently asked me how I would invest a million dollars to help conserve Lake Erie. When I really thought about it, the answer became clear: if I had a million dollars to spend on Lake Erie, I'd hire a public relations firm to remake our collective perceptions and rebrand the world's 11th largest lake.