While Canada's thirst might not seem as dramatic as, say, Africa's, one in five Canadian municipalities have experienced shortages of late and have had to ask residents to curb use.
The Prairies have been hit hard by drought, and the future is not bright for the region, which scientists, like the University of Alberta's David Schindler, say is fast becoming a dust bowl (it doesn't help that oil sands extraction and livestock are both extremely water intensive).
Our water supply is also under serious threat from industrial pollution, invasive species and water exports to the U.S.
Action Needed: The Council of Canadians insists that we need a new national water strategy to make sure the resource is adequately protected. Canada must ban the export of water outright. We need national water conservation plans (after all, we manage to suck back more water per capita than any nation in the world other than the U.S.). We need national clean drinking water standards (so we don't see another Walkerton) and nationwide policies about making water bottlers pay for the H2O they take from our taps and springs and then charge us two bucks for. The feds have long had a laissez-faire attitude around protection of the Great Lakes and other shared water bodies, for which bulk water takings and pollution are joint responsibilities. Too many loopholes in existing regulations mean that we’re slowly draining our water supply, drop by drop. The bottom line? Canada needs to recognize that access to safe water is a human right – we were the only country to vote against giving water this designation at the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2002.
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Excerpted from Ecoholic by Adria Vasil. Copyright 2007 by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen. Excerpted by permission of Three Rivers Press, in partnership with Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.