In the final stretch of the campaign trail, Justin Trudeau — Canada’s next prime minister and leader of a majority government — vowed to end boil-water advisories on First Nations reserves within the next five years. A worthy goal, to be sure. But why stop there?
Emma Lui's blog
In 2012, the federal government passed Bill C-383 which bans covers interbasin transfers into international rivers. However, it does not cover non-boundary waters or water resources in the North. It is still highly problematic that the Act narrows the definition of water removals and diversions to bulk removals of 50,000 litres or more and exempts water in manufactured goods including beverages.
With the election three weeks away, water has barely made it on the radar of federal political parties. Want to learn what the different parties’ positions are on key water issues? What should you ask parties at all-candidates debates or when they come knocking at your door? This blog gives an overview of some key water issues, parties’ positions and includes questions to ask local candidates at debates, when they come to your door or even in the Twitterverse. Leading up to October 19, it’s up to us to make sure federal parties know the importance of safeguarding water.
Water and the economy
Nestlé Waters is moving forward with its plans to buy a new well in Elora, Ontario, situated in the Great Lakes Basin. The well is currently owned by Middle Brook Water Co. (registered as 1445036 Ontario Inc.). Middle Brook’s current permit allows it to withdraw 1.6 million litres of groundwater per day from the Elora well and expires October 31, 2015.
(Photo of the Elora Quarry and the large beach,CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Grand River Conservation Authority)
In B.C., public and media attention has been focused on water pricing and Nestlé’s water takings. In February, the B.C. government released water rates which ranged from $0.02 to $2.25. The rates, which take effect January 1, 2016 when the new Water Sustainability Act comes into force, are the lowest across any of the provinces in Canada.
There has been an overwhelming amount of public backlash against the low rates, particularly with Nestlé only being required to pay $2.25 per million litres, a total of roughly $600 per year for the 265 million litres they draw from a well in Hope.
In May, the International Joint Commission (IJC) released the draft Ten Year Review of the International Joint Commission’s Report on “Protection of the Waters of the Great Lakes.” Ralph Pentland, President of Ralbet Enterprises, and Dr. Alex Mayer, Professor of Environmental and Geological Engineering at Michigan Technological University, authors of the report, give a very thorough review of advancements and what is happening around the Great Lakes Basin.
Photo courtesy of myheimu/Creative Commons.
The IJC created a process to invite public comment to the draft report that looks at advances and issues related to consumptive use, legal and policy considerations, diversions and other removals, water use data, cumulative impacts, climate change, groundwater and conservation.
Ultra-marathoner Caribou Legs is now in Revelstoke, B.C. On his Facebook page, Caribou Legs posted a video of a train shipment of coal that he saw just after Sicamous – 72 kilometres from Revelstoke - on the bridge overpass.
(Photo by Bradley Caribou Legs Firth, Three Valley Lake, Revelstoke, B.C.)
The Council of Canadians has highlighted that British Columbia has roughly ten active coal mines and many more in development.
CBC has reported, “The Coal Association of Canada says 90 per cent of Canada's coal deposits are located in western provinces, and about 80 per cent of Canada’s coal exports are shipped through B.C.”
Over 400 kilometers into his run to Ottawa, Caribou Legs spent the last few days in Chase, B.C. In a video posted on his Facebook page, Caribou Legs crosses the bridge where the Shuswap Lake forms into the South Thompson River and comments on the “beautiful water, a lot of recreation” and how the “town thrives around this water.”
Opposition to fracking has been brewing in the Yukon for a number of years. The Yukon Party government's recent decision to allow fracking in the Liard basin in southeast Yukon has reignited resolve in the territory to protect the lakes and rivers from fracking, a practice that was recently found to contaminate drinking water in Pennsylvania.
Members of the Liard First Nation are concerned that the Yukon Party are making deals behind closed doors with their Chief and Council which will have adverse affects on community’s drinking water and health as well as the wildlife which they rely on for food.