Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Englishman River Falls Park has lost the lower Falls, forever!

I’ve explored much of the crystal-clear water of Englishman River, as it runs its course of 10 km between the source on Mount Arrowsmith and the estuary in the Strait of Georgia. Jumping off the cliffs at the lower falls in the provincial park led my friends and I to swim across the large pool to the gushing flow of water that was the falls. Skirting around the edge of the pounding water and thick spray we were able to access a fairly large cave in behind the cascading waterfall. We sat on a log, wedged between the rocks, and watched the light filter in through the emerald coloured waterfall. That memory will remain with me forever.

Today, that waterfall no longer exists. The water has finally carved through solid rock, allowing the river to flow under a massive boulder rather than over it. The deep canyon between steeply carved cliffs, etched out by the river’s flow of water, bears testament to the fact that this type of natural change has been happening for millennia. The disappearance of this waterfall reminds me to look at the bigger picture.

Multi-national corporations around the world are taking over control of the world’s water. The pretense is usually that the local governments cannot keep up with the public demands for increased water, safety and security. The result is that the price of water doubles, public access decreases, and poor people die of thirst. The fact is corporations have made water more expensive than anything the general public consumes because it is essential for us to exist. Water in small plastic bottles, fetches double the price of gasoline at your local convenience store.

Today Natural Glacial Waters, a local company, pumps fresh water directly out of Rosewall Creek, just north of Deep Bay. They export more than 24 million individual plastic bottles of water to Asia every year. Recycling has to be a question, but so does ownership of water. Who has the right to sell water?

In 1997 The World Bank, on behalf of multi-national corporations, forced the government of Bolivia to privatize their public water systems as explicit condition of aid for this impoverished country. The collection of rainwater by the people was made illegal. The people revolted, police killed ordinary citizens, but the people prevailed and eventually they were victorious. The government was forced to change and some of the multi-national corporations were expelled from the country. Water was returned to the people as a right, not a privilege to be paid for with cash.

“In every corner of the globe, we are polluting, diverting, pumping, and wasting our limited supply of fresh water at an expediential level as population and technology grows. The rampant overdevelopment of agriculture, housing and industry increase the demands for fresh water well beyond the finite supply, resulting in the desertification of the earth.” This quote comes directly from a film I saw on the big screen during the holidays. “Blue Gold: World Water Wars” is winning awards, receiving rave reviews, and attracting a great deal of public attention. Check it out at:

The film goes on to state; “Corporate giants force developing countries to privatize their water supply for profit. Wall Street investors target desalination and mass bulk water export schemes. Corrupt governments use water for economic and political gain. Military control of water emerges and a new geo-political map and power structure forms, setting the stage for world water wars.”

Maude Barlow, one of the main characters in the film proclaims, “This is our revolution, this is our war. A line has been crossed, as water becomes a commodity. Will we survive?” As the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, and the founder of the Blue Planet Project, Barlow has been raising awareness about this issue for decades and sees a sharp increase in support as people begin to realize the dangers. Find out more:

One of the most inspiring characters is a Canadian, Ryan Hreljac, who started raising money to provide clean drinking water for people in Africa when he was in grade one. Since then he has raised $2 million which have built 319 wells in 114 countries providing clean drinking water to nearly half a million people. Today he’s in High School.

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