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Scathing report on health of Canada’s waters accuses Ottawa of wilful negligence

OWoN: Why waste such a natural gift?

Perhaps money should be spent on the Great Lakes basin rather than foreign adventures of conflict.


Last August, the city of Toledo had to turn to alternate sources of drinking water after its water supply was tainted by a toxic algae bloom, seen here surrounding the city's water intake crib in Lake Erie
- Image: Haraz N. Ghanbari / AP


Scathing report on health of Canada’s waters accuses Ottawa of wilful negligence


Council of Canadians report describes Great Lakes as “a dumping ground for our toxic waste, and more recently, as a carbon corridor to transport tar sands bitumen, fracked gas and fracking waste-water.”

The Star
By Raveena Aulakh
24 March 2015

Canada is taking its vast freshwater resources for granted, wrecking them in the process, says a scathing new report.

Titled Blue Betrayal, it also warns that climate change; industrial farming; melting glaciers; oil, gas and mineral extraction; and dumping of waste — sometimes toxic waste — into our waterways are all growing threats to our diminishing water supplies.

The report, authored by Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, a non-governmental organization, accuses Ottawa of turning its back on water resources to advance the interests of the energy industry.

“On both sides of the border, we continue to see the Great Lakes as a dumping ground for our toxic waste, and more recently, as a carbon corridor to transport tar sands bitumen, fracked gas and fracking wastewater,” Barlow said on Monday, calling those the “most dangerous energy sources on Earth.”

A big chunk of the report talks about the steps Ottawa has taken that have made freshwater resources more vulnerable, such as targeting scientific institutes and projects that did important work. Included in that list is the plan to dismantle the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), the world’s leading freshwater research institute.

The facility has been saved, at least temporarily, by the Ontario and Manitoba governments.

(The report also accuses past Liberal and Conservative governments of allowing Canada’s lakes, rivers and groundwater to deteriorate.)

Environment Canada did not respond to a request for comment.

The report comes on the heels of World Water Day, marked on Sunday. It doesn’t paint a healthy picture of the Great Lakes, a source of livelihood for more than 40 million people in Canada and U.S.

It says there are at least 204 pollutants in the Great Lakes, including plastic in various forms.

Fish in the Great Lakes are loaded with contaminants such as mercury, dioxins and lead, it adds.

The state of the Great Lakes is particularly worrisome for environmentalists because of blue-green algae, which has made a comeback in recent years.

Mark Mattson of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper says Toledo’s drinking water advisory last summer was a wake-up call that “we can’t take the Great Lakes for granted.”

Toledo’s nearly 500,000 residents were told not to use water for drinking, cooking or bathing in August 2014 after tests at a treatment plant showed dangerous toxin levels due to a toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie, from which the city draws its drinking water.

“You don’t expect communities around the Great Lakes to have any drinking water advisories,” said Mattson. “We mainly see these advisories in small, rural communities … because the Great Lakes can mask these problems for much longer than these small places.”

This report isn’t the only one this week warning of the dire consequences of misusing water resources: a United Nations report, released in New Delhi, warned there could be a 40 per cent shortfall in water globally in 15 years unless countries dramatically change their use of the resource.

The world’s population is expected to grow to 9 billion by 2050 and more groundwater will be needed for farming, industry and personal consumption, said the report.

Demand for water will increase 55 per cent by 2050, it said.

But many underground water reserves are already running low and rainfall patterns are predicted to become more erratic with climate change, the report pointed out.

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3 comments :

  1. Biffie, Canada isn't the only country guilty of this. Look at what they have done here in the US. Whether it being contamination of a creeks many times by manufacturers of chemicals or industrial farming or like the Super Fund site in Montana contaminating a whole watershed; the crime of contamination of a water resource is repeated time and time again across the country. The good news is more and more people are starting to get involved after so many few here and there tried for decades on their own. Some of those stories have been posted here on OWoN.

    ReplyDelete
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    BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Monsanto Co. has agreed to pay $600,000 in fines for not reporting hundreds of uncontrolled releases of toxic chemicals at its eastern Idaho phosphate plant.

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    Federal officials say the chemicals released are hazardous and can pose serious health risks. Monsanto in a statement noted there were no allegations that the releases exceeded state of federal standards, or that they contributed to any known health concerns in the Soda Springs area.

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