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Canada has lots of water, but lots of water issues too.

Canada has lots of water, but lots of water issues too.
Photo Credit: CBC

A call for water funding and a dedicated minister

March 22 is World Water Day. It is also budget day in Canada and the Council of Canadians is calling on the government to budget $7.4 billion to expand the protection of water.

The citizens’ group wants the new prime minister to name a cabinet minister responsible for water. Water issues are currently overseen by 20 different departments.

Topping its list of concerns is the estimate that 1/3 of Canada’s water infrastructure—such as pipes—is in fair to poor condition. It also notes that there were 1,838 drinking water advisories in 2015. These orders call on citizens to either boil their water to make it safe or to not use it at all.

Fracking is just one of many threats to water that worry the Council of Canadians.
Fracking is just one of many threats to water that worry the Council of Canadians. © CBC

Water advisories lasting years

“That’s very concerning,” says Emma Lui, national water campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “When you look particularly at First Nations (indigenous reserves), we see consistently there are over a hundred drinking water advisories, and so, people not being able to access water…

“The length of the advisories is very concerning because some communities have been under advisory for five years, 10 years, and we’re seeing some communities even close to 20 years.”

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Fracking, pipeline, mining of concern

The council is also concerned about fracking, pipelines, mining that Lui says are also threatening people’s water sources. And she is concerned about environmental legislation and fresh water protections that were gutted by the previous Conservative government.

Lui is heartened that newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made some commitments to restore and increase funding for water research and to end boil water advisories for First Nations. She says the budget will reveal how far it is willing to go  in addressing water issues.
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