Much at Stake if Parties don’t address Freshwater Concerns
Sierra Club Canada
Canada diverts more water than any other country in the world, with about 97% of the volumes diverted for power generation. “Increased attention on climate change in recent years has resulted in more discussions about green energy,” says Celeste Côté, National Water Campaigner with Sierra Club Canada, “Though hydro-electric energy may be renewable, however, it is not entirely green, and should not be seen as the answer to our energy dilemma.”
Moreover, Canada’s current lack of wastewater treatment regulations results in a number of problems that put fish populations at risk, one of which is “nutrient-loading”, where an overabundance of certain substances causes algal blooms that cover the surface of lakes and eat up available oxygen as they decompose, suffocating entire ecosystems.
Damming and diverting our water reduces water levels in streams, increasing the concentration of toxins and increasing water temperature, which in turn affects the abilities of fish to reproduce.
The Fisheries Act allows the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to lay charges against anyone interfering with the quality or quantity of water flows needed for fish habitat. Furthermore, official policies acknowledge that water withdrawals may impair fish habitat and should be regulated under the Act. The jurisdiction is clear, but enforcement needs improvement.
This is exemplified by the recent decision to allow mining companies to dump their toxic waste in Canada’s lakes. “I’d like to see political parties commit to stop subsidizing the mining industry at the expense of our fish populations,” adds Côté.
Up until now, the federal parties’ environmental platforms have focused on climate change while largely ignoring freshwater issues. Côté concludes: “We need every party to tell Canadians about their plan to protect Canada’s freshwater resources.”
Some areas parties should think about addressing are: water conservation instead of water diversions; green energy alternatives to hydroelectric dams; wastewater treatment regulations; and preventing invasive species.
Recommended reading: Changing the Flow, available in PDF at: www.gordonwatergroup.ca/page/blueprint
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For more information, contact:
Celeste Côté, National Water Campaigner, 613-241-4611 x.233, email@example.com
Jean Langlois, National Campaigns Director, 613-241-4611 x.230 firstname.lastname@example.org