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UPDATE: Watch ‘Waterlife’ documentary

Last night I went to the Cinema Politica screening of Waterlife at Carleton University. The documentary about the Great Lakes takes the viewer on a journey from Lake Superior, through Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and finally Lake Ontario, and explores the many threats facing the lakes.

Those threats include:

  1. invasive species, such as zebra mussels, lamprey, and the Asian carp, and the impact that has on fish stock and even micro-organisms in the water;
  2. climate change, and how with less rainfall, less snow and ice cover, there is more evaporation and lower lake levels;
  3. agriculture, and how herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers pollute the Great Lakes and cause algae blooms;
  4. industrial pollution, including heavy complex metals and PCBs, and the toxic sediment it creates on the bottom of lakes and the chemicals that go into fish;
  5. sewage pouring directly into rivers, and Lake Michigan being used to flush Chicago’s waterways;
  6. refineries and the estrogenic contaminants that feminize fish and frogs, impacts the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, and causes miscarriages and high cancer rates;
  7. new wastewater pollutants, including antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, anti-depressants and the degree to which that goes into our drinking water;
  8. oxygen depletion in the lakes, which bring new risks for fish, birds and people.

Waterlife also follows the inspiring journey of Anishinabe elder Josephine Mandamin as she walks the 17,000 kilometre shoreline of the Great Lakes.

The film was followed by an informative Skype coversation with director Kevin McMahon.

The Council of Canadians is looking into organizing community screenings of the film in Great Lakes communities as one way to help promote the recognition of the Great Lakes as a commons, public trust, and protected bio-region.

For more on the film, please go to http://waterlife.nfb.ca/ and http://www.ourwaterlife.com/. For a listing of threats to the Great Lakes in a recent campaign blog, please go to http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=3796.