Friday, November 10, 2006



Many of the trails I frequently use to walk along the banks of Englishman River were flooded as I made my way along the swollen waters near Top Bridge municipal park. “The nose” was level with the roaring water, brown with silt from fresh logging cut-blocks up stream. The week before I stood on top of the same rock shelf and noted that I would not want to dive for fear of hitting the bottom because the water was so shallow. That means the water rose approximately 5 meters in about 2 days. What a difference a week-end can make!

After many months of drought the rain finally came on the same week-end when water was the focus of a Parksville Qualicum Water Conference entitled “Our Water, Our Future”, attended by more than 350 people at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre. Opened by Qualicum Chief Kim Reculma-Clutesi, who welcomed everyone and encouraged people to come together to protect water, the importance of drinking water as a global and local issue was raised.

According to the leaders at Kyoto: “We are water warriors.” This is a human issue and only human beings can resolve the vast number of problems, most of which we have created. Act locally, think globally is an old catch phrase that is appropriate.

Severn Cullis-Suzuki pointed out that a litre of water can cost more than gas and produces a plastic container that is added to the 2.5 billion discarded every year. She suggested that using a personal reusable cup to drink coffee would help reduce the number of throw away cups which, if placed end to end, would circle the planet 7-8 times annually. 45,000 gallons of water are used to produce a single car. Cullis-Suzuki inspired the crowd with her stories of people from around the world coming together to protect the environment.

The largest aquifer on the planet lies under Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. When private corporations and government tried to privatize the drinking water in Uruguay, three million people protested. As a result the constitution was re-written after a 67% plebiscite to stop privatization and protect water. The constitutional amendment states:” Water is a human right.”

A statement from the UN indicated: “The wars of the 21st century will be fought over water!” Tony Clarke, Executive Director of the Polaris Institute, ended his speech with: “Water must never be completely controlled. Water must flow freely.”

Tofino councillor Michael Tilitzky explained that bylaws now make it mandatory to use dual flush toilets which use 3 litres per flush rather than the traditional 13.5 Why is this not a provincial law? Tofino is thinking beyond pipes and pumps by focusing on conservation as the solution to the problems of water shortages and increased demand on the limited drinking water supply.

Logging continues to effect local water by reducing the natural forest filters, eroding top soil, and reducing snow packs. Water flows without regard to boundaries yet is treated differently depending if it flows through private or public land. The ‘Private Forest Land Management Act is currently under review. This legislation establishes logging, road building, development, and other regulations for private land. Public input is needed. Voice your concerns to: BC Forest Minister Rich Coleman (250) 387-6240

Near the end of the workshop portion of the conference people came together to come up with positive tasks for people to work on to change the current status of water. Some of these included: Amending the Canadian Constitution to include “Drinking Water is a Human Right” This would create protection for water from the highest level and trickle down to every aspect of Canadian living. Lobby the local Health Authority to enforce water protection, particularly industry. Call for legislation to protect the water aquifers and ground water in this province.

Consensus was to hold a follow-up conference which will focus entirely on building solutions to the many issues facing water. Keep an eye out for information and checkout

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