Introduction Around the world, there is a common mentality that ourworld’s water supply is huge and infinite. However, the reality is that if wecontinue living our polluting and increasingly harmful lives, water bankruptcywill result. It is estimated that by 2025, two-thirds of the world will be “waterpoor”. As a result, water will become the single most essentialenvironmental resource of the century, being notoriously referred to as “theoil of the 21st century” and “liquid gold”. The wars of the future will surely befought over water, and since Canada is among the world’s most water-richnations, we will be major players in these wars. There are two opposingviews on selling Canada’s water: some believe that it is a basic human right,a substance you cannot put a price on. In contrast, many believe that watershould be regarded to as a commodity, and doing so would greatly benefitCanadian economies; that we should take advantage of our bountiful watersupply by selling it for profit like natural resources such as gas, oil andtimber. Thus these questions arise; Is Canada morally obliged to share itswater with an increasingly thirsty world? Can it even be done withoutupsetting delicate ecosystems? If so, who’s going to do it, and who’s goingto profit from it?
What is Canada’s Fresh Water Supply? How do Canadians use it? We are fortunate to live in Canada, which possesses 20% of the world’s existing fresh water supply, mostly from the great lakes. But, are we using it wisely? Unfortunately, too many Canadians think that our water resources are limitless; we waste and pollute it without a second thought. On average, Canadians use up to 343 litres of water per day capita in the home. Of this exceeding amount, 35% is used for bathing, 30% is used for toilet use, 20% for laundry, 10% for kitchen/drinking use, and 5% for cleaning, making us the second largest consumers of water worldwide. However, the average global citizen requires only between 20-40 litres of water pay day; this inefficient use of water may result in terrible water insufficiency and shortages in the very near future!
Water: Commodity or Human Right? Over the years, there has been a longstanding controversy over whether or not water is a “vital resource” like the air we breathe, or a “commodity” to be sold and traded. Free-traders and entrepreneurs view selling water as perfectly acceptable; nature will soon replenish the water discharged from the lake or river, and it would create numerous jobs that would result in the improvement of that area’s economy. However, most Canadian citizens, almost 70% of our population, believe that “water belongs to everyone and no one” and that if we do decide to export large quantities of water, it will have devastating effects on our fragile ecosystems and overall have little advantage to Canadians in the long-term.
Opinions FOR Exporting and Selling Canadian Fresh Water Some entrepreneurs and such citizens believe that selling Canadian fresh water would bring about bountiful job opportunities and economic success to Canada. By selling water, businesses can create the wealth necessary to finance developments. They argue that Canada already has an “overabundance” of water, and because we think we acquire an infinite amount, we easily pollute and waste it; fresh water is too valuable a resource to be continued to be used inefficiently .Our current water use is wasteful because enough economic value is not attached to it. Putting a price on water would bring people to conserve it more and in conclusion, it would help push Canada towards a more sustainable way of life; a more sustainable future.
Opinions AGAINST Exporting or Selling from Canada’s Fresh Water SupplyPast plans to export Canadian water in bulk, via canal, pipeline or tanker, werecancelled by furious public outcry to the politicians who contemplated them.We do export water now, though it must be in containers of no more than 20liters. But pressure is once again building on Canada to share its rich watersupply more lavishly, notably with the relentlessly parching U.S. southwest,whose booming population is draining the regions fresh-water basin severaltimes faster than nature can replenish it. Water conservationists have doubts asto that and warn any amount of bulk water sell-off would be too much, once thetap is turned on even a little, therell be no turning it off even if were in danger ofrunning dry. Once you start, youre in a race to the bottom.Water is vital to Canadian industry and agriculture and exporting our water wouldencourage development of both elsewhere and amount to exporting Canadianjobs. "All our water resources can be translated into growth somewhere. Let thatgrowth take place here in Canada.“ Furthermore, existing Canadian waterindustries would be required to compete with global competitive prices, meaningwe would have to sell our water for cheaper. What else do people have to say?“Bulk water export offers little advantage to the Canadiantaxpayer in the long term.”“I predict that the United States will be coming after our freshwater aggressively. We Canadians should be prepared torespond with a forceful no. We need it for ourselves.”
Canadas dependency on its water sourcesis growing and will only continue increasing asglobal warming takes effect and the Canadianpopulation expands. The environmentally richCanadian ecosystems depend significantly onthe country’s water sources for survival. Ifthese water trade, export and sale issues areapproved, the United States of America, as wellas any other countries experiencing watershortages, will rapidly consume Canadas watersources while neglecting their own problems.
Laws FOR and AGAINST Exporting/Selling Suggestions to divertCanadian Fresh Water water from the Great Lakes hydrologic system have proven to be verycontroversial. Due to the fact that these lakes are a shared international resource, a multitude ofgovernments and various organizations are concerned with managing and protecting the Great Lakeswaters and its delicate ecology. While water diversions and exports are slowed and temporarily •stopped as lake levels fall and reach record lows, as soon as lake levels rise again, many seeopportunities to utilize this water for profitable commercial purposes. For instance, on March 31st,1999 there had been a permit issued by the Canadian province of Ontario to allow the bulk transfer ofwater from Lake Superior to be sold as bottled water in Asian markets. It was granted that up to 600million liters of Lake Superior’s water could be exported to China by 2002! However, there was such anextreme public outcry on both sides that the permit was repealed and the deal was neveraccomplished. As a result, The Great Lakes Charter persuades U.S governors and Canadian premiersof the region to pursue each other’s approval before granting any diversion requests, yet this is a“nonbinding treaty” and, like many other acts of such, is not in full effect. A multitude of our otherwater export regulations have never been proclaimed, such as the 1989 Water Transfer Control Act orthe 1998 Surface Water Transfer Policy. There is also the issue of whether, under the terms andconditions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the North American Free TradeAgreement (NAFTA) water should even be sold or traded. All of this, during a time when protectingOntario’s water is more urgent and unavoidable than ever; with the ever growing world demand andthe determination of entrepreneurs to find ways to export and sell large amounts of Canadian water.As efforts to protect our Great Lakes fresh water will surely continue, international free tradeagreements may clear the path for additional diversions, bulk removals, or even the bulk selling offresh water. Fortunately, however, ongoing concerns over impacts on lake levels and potentialconsequences from climate change may lead to new laws and treaties to prevent future diversions andexports from this basin. Initially, the federal government also hopes to go one step further byintroducing legislation to ban large-scale water exports forever. It will do so by adding on to theInternational Boundary Water Treaties Act, which will prohibit removals of water from enclosed,boundered waters such as the Great Lakes. As much as this is very welcomed news, it is only the firststep.
Countries that Canada currently exports it’s water toinclude places that experience water shortages, such asSaudi Arabia, the United States, European and SouthAsian countries. The Canadian government has bannedbulk fresh water sales but Canada still profits frombottled water sales.
Concerns about our Fresh Water, and How these Concerns are Caused Many Canadian people take water for granted. The truth is: if we don’t take action, water may soon be scarce all over Canada. A lot of people all over the world die of contaminated water. 2 million people a year in fact. Canada only has 6.5% of a portion of the world’s fresh water, and a lot of that isn’t drinking quality. What we do every day may be the reason for that.Going to the toilet not only wastes a lot of our readily available water, but it also contaminates it. Urban runoff is also a huge cause of contamination. Arsenic is a powerful poison that seeps into our groundwater and through our water supply, which later enters people’s bodies and causes numerous deaths.Progress to return the biological and chemical honour of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem is making some progress, but proceeding at a slow pace. Cleaning up contaminated sediments and stopping the invasion of alien species in our fresh water systems are the two priorities for restoring a clean and healthy balance to Canada’s fresh water supplies.
What you maythink helps your plantsmay actually kill them.Pesticides often enterthe ground (fromprecipitation or farming,into groundwater) andinto your drinking waterand in turn the wateryou feed your plants.This ma cause death notonly to plants but tohumans. Pesticide isvery dangerous to thehuman body and maycause problems to it.Don’t count on thewaste getting filtered outbecause sometimeswaste treatment doesnot operate properly.Make the better choice,conserve water andgrow your plantsnaturally.
Cleaning our Fresh Water There are some organizations in Canada that help clean Canada’s freshwater. They are making a commitment to spend $6 million a year to help clean the Great Lakes. They are planning on cleaning them by capping affected areas or dredging the lakes (Taking the soil, mud or sand out of the lake) in order to remove sediment. Other methods may be treating and disposing of materials and long term monitoring. With the help of these organizations, 3 of 17 areas of concern are already recovering.
Cleaning Water Naturally Nature has a part in cleaning as well. Micro-organisms in wetlands, ponds, rivers and lakes eliminatetoxins and pathogens, as well as maintain the water’scolour and quality. Wetlands act like sponges, holding apurifying water and preventing flooding. Certainorganizations like “The Body Shoppe” and the Universityof Ottawa is taking advantage of that and createswetlands to filter water. Trees and plants use the watercycle to filter water. They filter water by absorbing it fromthe soil and then sending it into the air, creating freshwater without any contamination when it comes downfrom the sky.
Effects of Selling Canada’s Fresh Water The impacts of exportingwater from Canada’s freshwater supply can becategorized into two groups;economic effects andenvironmental effects.
Economic Effects! Many people see that Canada has increasingpotential to be a leader in global water sales anddistribution. Selling some of our abundant waterresources would effectively boost the Canadianeconomy and amplify Canada’s GDP. To explain, waterexportation around the world has already generatedbillions of dollars in revenue, and by selling Canadianwater, Canadian businesses can create the capitalnecessary to invest in improvements and prosper.Currently, Canadian bottled water companies utilize 30billion liters of top-quality Canadian fresh water everyyear, earning as much as $200 million on the exportmarket alone. With this in mind, think about how muchwe would profit from exporting bulk water from our greatlakes! “If water was to become a commodity, it wouldcreate jobs and thus increase Canada’s wealth. I believeit could fix the economic problems the world is sufferingfrom presently.” This was said by Tom Bell, a CanadianMember of Parliament.
Environmental Effects!• Although selling Canadian water has undeniable economic value, it has several negative environmental impacts. Due to extreme exportation of water, 4 out of 5 of the Great Lakes currently experience low water levels, putting their ecosystems in danger. Changing water levels and flows will have unpredictable yet harmful consequences on basin habitat, biodiversity, shorelines, even jobs and culture, particularly to First Nations. Such lower water levels will mean increased interruption of highly contaminated sediments in shallow harbors and connecting channels; less dilution of polluted water. Finally, after we start exporting and selling water if will be used faster than nature can replenish and restore it, In short, ecosystems will be destroyed, water will become more polluted, and we may be at great risk of forever altering and destructing the character of the our fresh waters.
Solutions; Using Water More Sustainably Thanks to the replenishing cycle of rain andevaporation, water on Earth has remained the sameover the past 4 billion years. Only in our generationhas there been concern that we may be ruining ourwater supply. As human population grows, demandfor water increases. Human activities, such asagriculture, mining, and pulp and papermanufacturing, are adding fastidious amounts ofwastes into our water systems. Fortunately, there isstill time to rethink our actions and prevent our waterresources from depletion and pollution. We can allhelp conserve and protect Canada’s fresh waterresources! The choices we make regarding how weuse our water will affect all people and all otherliving organisms around the world.
Some examples…• Plant more trees along lakes and bodies of water to clean the water naturally and prevent run-off into waterways• Reduce amount of toxins and pollutants entering our water supply by not spraying/placing them on the ground (where they could enter our lakes and rivers through groundwater) or spilling them in drains or toilets• Using canoes, kayaks and other conventional water transportation methods rather than motorized watercraft And much more!
The conference is intended to draw attention tofresh water issues in Canada at the time of the G8conference in Huntsville, Ontario this year (June 25-27th, 2010). The conference will feature 6 distinguishedspeakers who will address varies aspects offreshwater management including scientificassessment, management, usage, etc.
Conclusion In conclusion, all living organisms depend on water to survive.Humans need it to drink, cook and clean, farm crops, raise livestock,and enjoy in a variety of recreational pursuits. We know that, becauseof our wasteful and polluting lifestyles, the world may experience watershortages and will undergo water bankruptcy by as soon as 2025. Wehave learned that Canada has an abundance of fresh water and, if itbelongs to “everyone and no one”, we should share it with the rest ofthe thirsty world. Regardless, selling and exporting great quantities offresh water would significantly damage our water systems, but on theother hand would profit the Canadian economy. Although as regularcitizens we cannot decide whether or not Canada decides to exportbulk water, we do have a responsibility. We need to make sure that weuse water sustainably; use it so that it will still be plentiful and availablefor tomorrow. Also, we have the liability of respecting our Great Lakesand fresh water by keeping it clean and non-polluted. In order for thehuman race to thrive and survive, we need adequate, clean watersupplies. Don’t let us face water bankruptcy by 2025! The future isnow!
• “Canada’s Forests, Wetlands and Freshwater.” www.Canadianforestry.com/kits/english/vol6-e.pdf/02- forestsandwetlands-e.pdf (Retrieved 7 June 2010)• O’Malley, Martin and Mulholland, Angela. “Canada’s Water.” CBC News Online, www.portaec.net/library/ocean/water/canadas_water.html (Retrieved 8 June 2010)• Anderson, Faye and Atkins Arthur, William “Great Lakes.” Water Encyclopedia, www.waterencyclopedia.com/Ge-Hy/Great- Lakes.html (Retrieved 9 June 2010)• “Selling Canada’s Water”. August 25, 2004. CBC News Online, www.cbc.ca/news/background/water (Retrieved 12 June 2010)• SciencePower8 Textbook pages 401-403
• Research: Nika, Kris, Catherine, Nickolai• Selling Canada’s fresh water, how Canadians use their water: Catherine• Concerns about our fresh water and how these concerns are caused: Nickolai• Who does Canada sell its fresh water to: Kris• Effects of Selling Canada’s fresh water: Nika and Catherine• How We Can Use our Water More Sustainably: Nika