Water protection – before it’s too late

We used to think our water was limitless. Now we know that isn't true.

Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink, observed the Ancient Mariner.

Besides the Vernal Equinox (Spring) on the 20th, this week we also observe World Water Day on March 22.

We live in a beautiful country, generous with its fresh water and fertile land. It’s hard to imagine not having clean water at our disposal.

Canada is home to one fifth of the world’s freshwater and hosts the third-largest volume of renewable freshwater resources after Brazil and Russia.

I grew up on the Great Lakes, which provide much of that freshwater we boast about. I can tell you first hand, that the water I was exposed to was extremely polluted from years of untreated industrial effluent. Still, we drank it, we swam in it. There was no other choice.

Cleaning up the Great Lakes has challenged Ontario and the affected states for years. It would have been much easier to protect them from the beginning, but the promise of industry and jobs made everyone turn a blind eye to what was happening.

It’s not only the Great Lakes. Recent environmental catastrophes such as British Petroleum’s (BP) “oil spill” in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 (4.9 million barrels estimated) and the Fukushima Dailchi nuclear meltdown in 2011 caused by a devastating tsumani have added huge amounts of toxic waste to an already shaky environment. If you are a fish or seafood lover, you’ve probably noticed a difference in the quality of commercial product, most of it being exposed to increasing amounts of pollution.

With water and sustainable development being this year’s focus of the United Nations General Assembly, take some time to learn about water-related issues, its sustainable use and how we can protect this precious resource.

Don’t take fresh water for granted. We see water as a renewable resource, but it may not always be so. As this winter has been strangely devoid of the snow we’re used to expecting, it may be that the climate change we keep hearing about will make this a normal occurance rather than just a blip. We may find ourselves sharing California’s unending drought.

Water is precious: let’s take care of it.

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal