Reflections on Water Local and Otherwise



Tomorrow, March 22, is World Water Day, and it is a little chilling to consider the direction society seems to be taking with regard to this building block of life. In our own community, the City watershed has been cleared of forest, as has much of the areas that furnish water to Beaver Creek, the Beaufort area, and Cherry Creek. Where the purifying action of the forest has been subtracted from the equation, there are also areas subject to highway and industrial run off and agricultural contamination. The degradation of water quality has occasioned the need for increased treatment at considerable expense, while some people have turned to bottled water in an effort to avoid the pitfalls of potential pollution of drinking supplies, though we continue, through treatment, to have considerable access to clean potable water. The plastic bottles are an issue, along with the energy to bottle and transport the product, and many find it irksome to have bottling companies depleting public water resources for their own profit.

Water courses are subject to disastrous interference from industrial missteps, such as the spill of helicopter fuel into a Kootenay Creek and the overwhelming devastation of the Quesnel system via the break in the tailings dam at Mt. Polley mine. These incidents point to a lack of forethought in the care of water resources and to a willingness to let pecuniary factors outweigh the need for environmental protection of streams, rivers, lakes, and stretches of coastal waters where tanker traffic, overfishing and dumping of all manner of marine garbage is having a disastrous effect on the quality of life for marine flora and fauna. The push for LNG terminals, coal ports and pipeline terminus infrastructure for dilbit would not point to an improving future.


We know how to protect our water resources, yet we seem incapable of bring sufficient pressure to bear on the political class to represent the long-term interests of their constituents in this matter. We have seen a drama unfolding in Shawnigan Lake over the last year where the dumping of toxic soil has been approved directly upstream from a creek that empties into the lake, itself the source of drinking water for several thousand people, as well as a treasured recreational resource. This is being done with what can only be called the connivance of the provincial government, the company in question and their partners in getting the environmental assessment pushed through.

World Water Day should be a time to reflect on past actions and future directions in bringing about concerted action to ensure that water will be readily available for us, but also for all the generations to come.