Water is definitely something that we take for granted here in North America.
Our European ancestors settled near our abundant waterways because… how else do you survive?
If you’re a fan of old Western movies, you know that most of the conflicts involve water rights. They probably still do, but at least we have water to fight over.
I can’t imagine living in a dry country where there is absolutely no water. And yet, when I think of how we’ve treated our fresh water sources here in North America, I am ashamed at the lack of respect we’ve shown. Even to our oceans.
I grew up on the Great Lakes. They are so big they’re like inland oceans, except they are fresh water. Or were at one time, before the huge factories bought up all of the lake front so they could cool their engines with the water and have a convenient dumping hole for the polluted waste they produced.
We used to laugh that the Detroit River (between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario) never froze over because their was so much anti-freeze in the water. Anti-freeze and other chemicals.
And yet, that was our drinking water. And our source of enjoyment. Summer evenings were for sitting down by the river and watching the sun set through the rust-coloured haze of the Detroit skyline.
The river smelled like fish and held mostly carp and perch at that time. We used to see a lot of Americans fishing, and they’d tell us how they were going to eat the fish they caught. That usually ended the conversation on our end, because it was not polite back then to call a stranger “crazy”.
We are so lucky here to have the Thompson and the Bonaparte rivers. Especially as we watch the salmon swim along the shore, sometimes followed by the osprey and the eagles. But one quick accident – a rail car in the river, a truck gone off the road, etc. – and not only is our drinking water jeopardized, but the home to the fish, ducks, geese, the fish-eating raptors and the rest of the surrounding life that depends on the fresh water of our rivers.
Show some respect and take care of our rivers. Your life depends on it.
Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal