| Troubled Water
Film by Paul Manly
Lax Legislation Makes Flimsy Bridges Connecting Water Rights to the People
Film Review by Diane Babcock
The Myth of Abundance
Troubled Water is a good example of when the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality can be a dangerous way to think about our most valuable resources. We know our bodies need water to survive and we take for granted that need will always be provided for. But, how many people know where our drinking water comes from, how much there is, how pure it is and who controls it?
To believe there is an endless supply of drinking water because we have many lakes and rivers is to believe in a myth.
Perhaps it’s because we see the aerial view of virgin timberland water in every post card we send, we happily maintain the illusion that all is well with our water supply. Unbeknownst to many, our drinking water comes from a watershed just outside of that view of the pristine lake in the post card. This watershed is the real source of our drinking water and it is created where rain and snow is collected and then flows into surface streams, rivers and lakes, and underground aquifers.
The post card doesn’t show the stumps and clutter of unethical logging practices that are rampant in Vancouver Island’s watersheds. More specifically, it is Nanaimo’s watershed that has been gravely damaged by two explicitly destructive steps in the logging process.
The first is damage to the riparian, which is the interface between the land and the water, and this damage creates a cloudiness known as turbidity. Turbidity makes it more difficult to kill pathogens in the water, so they don’t get filtered out before they get to us like they would in clear water.
The second is reforestation with noxious fertilizers that contain high levels of carcinogenic metals, especially cadmium. These fertilizers are made from industrial waste as ash collected from smoke stacks that contains dioxins – the most toxic substance known to humans.
Protected No More
Of course it all started out in the late 1800’s that our watersheds were protected, but with the introduction of logging in the 1950’s these areas were re-designated and left to be ravaged by an insatiable industry.
Ever since that time, there has been more neglect to our watersheds and aquifers that one can comprehend and what’s deplorable that and more is still happening today.
On one hand we have garbage dumps where polluted water flows into the surrounding wells forcing residents to buy water at great cost. On the other we have agricultural and industrial runoff seeping into our aquifers.
Even more unsettling is the aggressive pursuit of big businesses like Suez & Veolia that want to own and monopolize all of the drinking water in the world. In similar fashion as they have done elsewhere, they would have us buying poor quality water through a metered system at a cost so high we will be dragging buckets to our own contaminated streams.
If that’s not enough we are battling foreign investment takeovers of our land and our water through international free trade agreements, investors rights agreements, and the cuts to environmental regulation and assessment.
A Better View
How should we be looking at our water?
As individuals, we should personalize the model of a Blue Community like Vancouver Island University and the City of Nanaimo that portray a stewardship view of our water.
From this angle we can see three things clearly and without turbidity
- Water needs to be regarded as a human right
- Our water supply needs to be publicly owned and managed
- We need to reject bottled water and choose filtered water.
Act Now…Future Solved
Island Timberlands is the current owner of Nanaimo’s watershed and they deny any water has been affected – the facts prove otherwise. Today there is still logging in our watershed and no agreement whatsoever to ensure our drinking water is protected.
We need to act!
- Some would suggest we buy back our watershed for 165 million
- others would scream ‘expropriation’ and shout ‘confiscate what is rightfully ours’ from the rooftops
- The City of Nanaimo would like to simply build a better mousetrap, (ahem) water treatment facility at a cost of 65 million dollars.
Whatever we do, we need to do it now so we can rebuild and reinforce our future water supply.
Communities need more say and regulatory control over their watersheds, the water act needs to be modernized and water needs to be recognized as a global commons and public trust.
Our forests and wetlands are a natural purification system that has been allowed to deteriorate for no other reason except corporate greed. A greed that is nothing more than a game for multi-national players with big pockets and little care beyond the corporate bottom line. The problem is more players are getting involved and we need to claim what is rightfully ours as quickly as possible.
Entrusted With Nature’s Technology
The earth has its own technology that has taken many millennium to perfect and it cannot be duplicated. What is happening to that technology is environmental abuse and nothing short of criminal. Since the earth can’t walk away from abuse like we can when we are being mistreated, we must act to defend those technologies that nature created to protect us.