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NEWS: Barlow speaks in Utah on water justice

Loren Lambert writes in the Daily Utah Chronicle today that, “Maude Barlow, Blue Planet Project founder, best-selling author and keynote speaker at last week’s Fifth Annual International Conference on Human Rights at the U, said unless Utahns and the global community take swift, concerted action, all of the Earth’s watersheds, including the Great Salt Lake, will become irrevocably polluted, depleted and laid waste like that of the Aral Sea and Lake Chad.”

“Resonating like the tolls of a bell proclaiming the strokes to midnight, Barlow said the No. 1 cause of death of the world’s children is lack of clean water; humans disgorge 2 million tons of polluted effluence every day into the ecosystem; 80 percent of the world’s rivers are in crisis; 400 counties and 14 U.S. states face imminent water shortages; North America and Europe are mining their ground water faster than it can be replenished; and by 2030, demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent.”

“To (move past) this, Barlow said though we should swear off ‘the collective insanity’ of bottled water and abandon our cars for our bikes, these measures alone will not suffice. The time has come when, just as the call of war cannot be requited by individual sacrifice alone, we must collectively proclaim by force of law that water is most beneficial where it naturally settles, is our common heritage and is a human right.”

Lambert concludes, “This would call upon us to oppose draining our aquifers for Las Vegas, to halt all major water pipeline and dam projects, and finally, would temper our hearts with the reality that nature is priceless, that a river has as much right to flow as we have to be free from bondage, not because it is something incorporeal nor independent from us, but because we are only as alive as the waters that surround and move within us. Let them live.”

With respect to Lambert’s comments on the need ‘to oppose draining our aquifers for Las Vegas’, last week we noted that Barlow has highlighted, “The issue (in Utah) is a proposal by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to build a pipeline to take 65 billion gallons (250 billion litres) a year out of an aquifer called the Great Basin that lies under Utah and Nevada and ship it to Las Vegas. A network of ranchers, environmentalists, First Nations, and others have formed the Great Basin Water Network and have held the project off in the courts for quite a while but they are up against a formidable alliance of pro-development interests.”

The Associated Press reported on February 17, “Opponents of a proposed multibillion-dollar water pipeline from northeastern Nevada and Utah to Las Vegas have been mounting a procedural challenge to a Nevada Supreme Court order that sent the case to a state official for review. …The network wants a White Pine County District Court judge to agree to hear their complaints before Nevada State Engineer Jason King considers water-rights applications for the region, she said Friday (February 11).” The article continues, “Water rights are crucial to the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s proposal to build a 285-mile pipeline to the Las Vegas area from as far away as Snake Valley, which straddles the Nevada-Utah line. Opponents contend the groundwater supplies are inadequate to support the plan to export up to 50,000 acre-feet of water.”

The Daily Utah Chronicle op-ed is at http://www.dailyutahchronicle.com/opinion/clean-water-is-priceless-not-expendable-1.2486021. The campaign blog is at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=6586.