Skip to content

UPDATE: Council of Canadians concerned about Saskatoon’s water supply

The Saskatoon StarPhoenix editorial board writes, “Once considered too large and lightly populated to be seriously harmed by human activity, the Saskatchewan River basin suddenly appears to be fighting for its life. Studies that indicate Lake Diefenbaker, upon which Saskatoon depends for its water supply, is suffering serious problems related to industrial, residential and agricultural effluent, primarily coming from Alberta.”

They add, “Part of the challenge faced by governments is the rapid evolution of an economic model that accompanies the demand for the wealth-generating resources. And almost extinct are the small family farms and livestock operations that rarely had enough animals to seriously harm the waterways. They have been replaced by some of the world’s largest intensive livestock operations and feedlots, which rely on huge water supplies that are subsequently vulnerable to runoff. Today’s massive prairie farms would not have developed without the extensive use of fertilizer and pesticides to maximize returns.”

They conclude, “Governments do no one any favours by allowing the problems to continue. It cost billions to clean up the Great Lakes, and Lake Winnipeg is now about where Lake Erie was in 1960. Ignoring problems now only will multiply the cleanup costs at Diefenbaker, the Saskatchewan River basin and elsewhere for generations.”

In May 2009, the StarPhoenix reported, “The river cutting through Saskatoon is at risk, says the United Nations’ senior adviser on water. The streams that feed the South Saskatchewan River are also at risk and the glaciers feeding these streams are declining rapidly, said Maude Barlow, who is also Council of Canadians chair. …Barlow’s message contrasts sharply with a common perception of Canada as a land with abundant fresh water resources. Canadians have been told for generations that water recycles itself over and over. But that’s not entirely the case any more — the careful balance has been tipped, Barlow said. Major centres dump waste water into the ocean, taking water out of the freshwater table and creating shortages. Diverting streams and groundwater has disrupted natural cycles.”

The Council of Canadians will be raising this and other issues at its next annual conference in Saskatoon this coming October 25-27.

For more, please read:
StarPhoenix editorial – Act to protect water systems
UPDATE: Tracking key political issues in Saskatchewan
UPDATE: Council conference/ AGM in Saskatoon, Oct. 25-27, 2013
NEWS: Saskatchewan forms new ‘Water Security Agency’