happy water day, we can do much better, we need to!
Canadians are profligate with water, and British Columbians’ daily use is above the national average. This may be because a majority of homes still have flat rate pricing for water, rather than meters. Or perhaps our casual approach is because water conservation on our rain-swept coast seems unnecessary? Only about three percent of municipally-treated water is consumed. The rest is flushed down the toilet, washed away in showers, laundry, dishwashers, or cleaning the car, or sprayed on the lawn. Much of it gets wasted through dripping taps and inefficient appliances.
Water conservation is advisable for a number of reasons. It is a resource that needs time to renew through its natural cycle. Climate change is predicted to affect ocean evaporation, precipitation levels, and snow pack melt, all stages in this cycle. The cost of storing, treating, and delivering clean water is rising. Domestic, agricultural, and industrial requirements increase with higher human populations. A relatively new issue for B.C. is the use of water in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for natural gas production. Demands may also arise for bulk water export to provide for people in less water-rich countries. This has met with strong opposition in the past, and the B.C. Water Protection Act prevents it, but with a growing world population needing fresh water, it may be only a matter of time. Wise water use, including conservation measures, must ensure that supplies are maintained in the face of growing demand.
There are ethical dilemmas around water. Would we be less wasteful if water were given a higher price? Is it right to be flushing drinking water down the toilet when others in the world lack this most essential resource? Should water become a commodity, traded on the open market? An Ipsos Reid poll showed that over 90 percent of Canadians believe that access to water is a human right, and should not be commercialized. Yet Canada, along with the United States, continues to abstain from support of the UN resolution on the human right to water and sanitation. Maude Barlow of the Council for Canadians believes that this political position is driven by multinational corporations pushing to accelerate the privatization of water and integrate water trading into the futures markets.