Archive for the 'The People of Water' Category

No Water Gets No Attention

In a revealing article on Canadian Maude Barlow by Embassy Magazine, the newly minted senior adviser on water to the UN General Assembly, lets loose on what has driven her for the past 23 years: Water. With her new position, she is seeking to position water-related issues into the global forefront, alongside poverty and food issues.

Since WaterDrop started this blog, we’ve been continually seeking the information to show that water is a growing crisis that is looming underneath the world’s radar. Ms. Barlow frankly states that more deaths are caused by water-borne diseases than by war, traffic accidents and HIV combined. These alarming facts are true and the water crisis receives very little attention.

I find it astounding that in both this country and the United States, there was another federal election with not one mention of water. I find it astounding. I mean in the U.S., there are seven states in absolute crisis now. To me it’s such a disconnect and it’s still the biggest problem we have.

Ms. Barlow strives to ensure the clean water that we currently have is protected and that the private sector does not have the power to dictate costs over those who need pure, clean water the most. She believes that technology is not the answer to the question.

Can we protect the sources we have as best as we can or are we going to cavalierly destroy them and then assume technology will clean it up?

Check out the full article here.

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Canada’s own Maude Barlow named senior UN water advisor

Maude Barlow, a world-renowned water activist and Canadian, has been named the senior water advisor for the United Nations. She will be working closely with Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, president of the 63rd session of the United Nations, to bring the water issue into a global light.

She is attempting to work with the United Nations to introduce a three-pronged plan.

Three goals: Use the incredible talent, research and resources that exist at the UN and give it direction, a vision and cohesion. Second: To shift the power balance around water from institutions like the World Bank and World Water Forum and give them transparency at the UN General Assembly. And third, he is supportive of the principle of the universal right to water. We will be unveiling a plan on Dec. 10, which is the 60th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Maude Barlow.

Check out the full article here. It’s a great article with Ms. Barlow expressing great concern on the growing global water crisis. Not only does she talk about the water of the world at large, but the impact Canada has on the world’s water supply. Why don’t we prevent a problem before it begins? Canada is not impervious to water problems, there are growing water scarcities all over the country.

You can check out a documentary on water that recently came out here. The film is called “Flow” and has  been featured in film festivals all across the world (with Sundance being one of them). Maude Barlow is featured heavily in this film. The documentary asks us a vital question: can anyone really own water?

Interview With the City of Vancouver’s Water Conservation Manager

WaterDrop was pleased to interview the City of Vancouver’s Water Conservation Manager, Jennifer Bailey last week about Vancouver and it’s water conservation efforts. As you can see from the interview below, Vancouver has seen some great progress over the years and is on a trend towards greater sustainability. Check out the entire interview, there is tons of helpful information and tips!

City of Vancovuer

1.Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for the City of Vancouver.

Water Conservation Program Manager.  Promote water conservation through public engagement of indoor and outdoor water use; manage incentive programs (water efficiency kits and rain barrels); provide education on the lawn sprinkling and, when required, enforcement of regulations; support City Farmer waterwise demonstration garden; administer elementary school plays on water conservation (see http://www.vancouver.ca/engsvcs/watersewers/environment/AtoZ.htm)

2.How important to you is water conservation?

Water conservation just makes sense.  It is about sustainable use of water to ensure affordable and equitable supply of drinking water into the future.  We are in the enviable position of having protected source waters, supplying us with high-quality water at the turn of the tap.  However, with a growing population, the demand on this resource is increasing.  Becoming “water wise” through simple things such as retrofitting with water efficient fixtures and turning water guzzling lawns into gardens of drought-resistant plants, are great small steps for delaying costly expansions of our drinking water system.

3.What is your take on the global water crisis on a global, national and local level?

Access to a clean supply of water is essential for life.  In Canada, we are fortunate to have about 6.5% of the world supply of fresh water.  However, a need for sustainable water use on a national level within this seeming abundance, is supported by Canadians ranked as one of the largest per capita waters users (next to the US), supply by region (certain regions in Canada already have water shortages), and the relationship between water (storage, treatment, transport, and waste water treatment) and energy output and associated GHG emissions.

On a local level, we are seeing the average per-capita consumption drop, yet an overall increase in demand due to population growth.  Per capita water use in all categories, residential through industrial, in the City of Vancouver has dropped to 542 litres per day in 2007 from 583 litres in 2006 and 764 litres in 1986.  Contributing factors are the installation of more water efficient fixtures (replacing the old 20 litre toilets with low-flow six litre toilets, low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, water-efficient washing machines), lawn sprinkling restrictions, and a shift towards more people living in smaller and more water efficient housing options.  Thus, the focus of the water conservation program is demand side management to reduce customer usage, through behaviour-based education and plumbing code modifications, as a means to delay costly water system infrastructure expansions.

4.How long have Vancouver’s water conservation and sustainability efforts been in place?

The City has taken a proactive approach to water conservation by implementing a variety of education and incentive programs in the early 90’s and amending the Vancouver Building by-law to require low flow fixtures on all new development.  A brief timeline of the City’s water conversation initiatives is found below:

· 1993: lawn sprinkling regulations introduced; elementary school play on water conservation called “A2Z of H2O” was written and performed in all Vancouver  (program has since expanded into other Metro Vancouver municipalities); and the replacement of an inclining block rate structure (where high volume users get price break) with a uniform rate for metered customers

· 1995: Ultra-low flow toilets, showerheads, aerating faucets, recirculating cooling systems and ornamental fountains mandated in new building construction; subsidized rain barrel program

· 1997: promotion of waterwise gardening through City Farmer

· 2002: Campaign on natural lawn care, “Grow Natural” Program

· 2005: Indoor water saving kit introduced

· 2006: Outdoor water saving kit introduced

· 2007: Lawn sprinkling door-to-door contact pilot; low flow spray valve installed in 750 restaurants; Vancouver Green Building Strategy being developed;

· 2008: Waterwise landscape guideline currently being developed

5. What do you think Vancouver’s role is in water conservation and sustainability on a national level?

City of Vancouver is a supporter Canadian Water and Wastewater Association and active member.  The City also supports National initiatives that are appropriate for our local environment.

6. What is Vancouver currently doing to be a water sustainable city?

· Green Building Strategy – promoting energy and water efficiency in buildings.

· Green Homes Program – proposing building by-law changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase in-building water efficiency. http://www.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/CBOFFICIAL/greenbuildings/greenhomes/

· Promoting waterwise gardening – establishing waterwise guidelines for use by developers and property owners doing landscape work.

Sewers separation program – separating sanitary systems from storm water to avoid combined system overflow events, and reduce stress on wastewater treatment facilities.

Rain water management – treating rain water runoff as a resource through integration into rain gardens, vegetated swales, and providing opportunities for rain water to naturally percolate into the ground to recharge ground water. (http://www.vancouver.ca/engsvcs/watersewers/environment/integratedDrain.htm)

7.What do you think of the state of awareness of water conservation efforts in Vancouver?

People have been very supportive of the City’s water conservation efforts.  Some good indicators of this are: no opposition to low-flow fixtures mandated in new development, excellent uptake of incentive programs, and success of sprinkling regulations.  In the City of Vancouver alone, the sprinkling regulation demand side management measure has resulted in saving excess of $10 million through the avoidance of transmission capacity upgrades.

8.Where would you like to see Vancouver in the future? What are Vancouver’s goals?

Water goals: to ensure long term reliable supply of water for a growing customer base through water loss management (controlling leakage) and working with customers on demand side management programs.   The key drivers for conservation programs are water use reductions that allow for the deferral of costly supply and storage capacity increasing infrastructure projects, and reduced impact on the environment from supply increasing infrastructure construction work and less energy consumed by pump stations.

9.What are some good resources for people to find out more about saving water?

Vancouver.ca/water

gvrd.bc.ca/water

10.What can people do to be more water conscious and get involved with this initiative?

Take advantage of City’s incentive programs – indoor and outdoor water saving kits, and rain barrels.

If you have a lawn, let it go dormant in the summer, or if you must water, once a week (2.5 cm of water) is all you need for a healthy lawn.

Fix leaking toilets and faucets.  A leaking toilet can waste 150 litres a day.

 

Thanks to Jennifer and the City of Vancouver for the interview!

Maude Barlow on Water and Ecology

Who Owns Water?

Countless sources point out that water is headed towards a crisis. Little do we know, we are in the midst of a worldwide water crisis.

Is water a human right?

Many believe that water is a renewable resource, that once it is used, more can be manufactured, created, manufactured and so on. This is not true. Corporations believe that water is a commodity. In a study by the Environmental Business Journal, the United States alone generated over 100 billion dollars in revenue from water in 2003. The study also states that the industry is growing by 10 percent every year.

However, is water a commodity? In an article by Kathleen O’Hara of the Toronto Star entitled World Views Collide Over Water, she points to dedicated individuals like the Council of Canadians chair, Maude Barlow (she also wrote the book Blue Covenant: the Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right of Water). O’Hara points out that “on one side, large corporations with, as Barlow points out, the assistance of most First World governments, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and even the United Nations, are trying to promote the concept of water as a commodity, like oil, to be owned, sold and traded.” O’Hara also goes on to quote Barlow that these corporations and organizations “have established an elaborate infrastructure to promote the private control of water, and they work in close tandem with one another.”

On the other side of the fence, there are people that Barlow believes that water is “the common heritage of all humans and other species, as well as a public trust that must not be appropriated for personal profit or denied to anyone because of an inability to pay.”

Which side of the fence would you choose? Is water a human right or a commodity to be bought, sold, packaged, marketed, traded and bartered with? With the dwindling fresh water reserves around the world, do you want someone to control that water in order to make a profit or do you believe that it is something that must be guarded, protected and shared. It’s a simple choice, but a relevant one considering the global water crisis that is underway. We all have one thing in common, from the villager in the smallest African communities to the inhabitant of sprawling metropolitan centres; we need water to live. Do we deserve to own water?


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