Editorial: Time to speak up
Make sure ground water and your role in accessing it are part of this important conversation.
By Colleen Cross
Do you sometimes feel left out of important conversations when you have knowledge, training, experience or strong instincts that could help solve a problem?
If so, you should know that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to hear from you.
Late last year the Prime Minister vowed to create a Canada Water Agency and in May the government began asking for input from Canadians on what it should look like.
They are using is a site called PlaceSpeak that allows all Canadians to sign in and comment on five questions to help shape its role and activities.
It’s a refreshingly democratic process. Once inside the website module, you’ll find an ever-growing number of thoughtful opinions from scientists, drillers, government people and general public worried about specific environmental issues. Spend as little as half an hour reading these comments and you’ll get a decent sampling of the water issues we face:
First Nations’ lack of access to clean drinking water, the need for water conservation, private for-profit management of civic water, forestry industry debris blowing into lakes and decomposing and creating algae, contamination through tailing ponds from mining and lead pipes, fish farms too close to rivers and lakes, questions of water use, maintaining water reservoirs, flooding and storm water management, pollution from waste water and agriculture, drainage changes hydrology and overland flow, lack of monitoring, watershed protection.
Commenters are highlighting the problems they think are most pressing in a long list.
Many agree on issues of concern but have different ideas about the role the Canada Water Agency should play. Should it be a way to collect and monitor information? Should it connect all forms of government? Should it be a watchdog?
John Kim posted a comment that sums up some of the comments: “Large project development oversight, education and awareness for the general public, training standards for provincial and municipal regulators, environmental protection, marine life preservation and protection.”
Several commenters suggest the government use models already in place: the Prairie Provinces Water Board, a partnership that focuses on transboundary water issues; Prince Edward Island’s Water Act consultation process; and the Netherlands Water Partnership, “a relatively disinterested third party” of 50 members set up to help resolve disputes.
The discussion is hopeful, skeptical and, yes, sometimes cynical. These are people that, like you, are concerned about water and don’t mince words. The website is easy to use but permanent enough to make commenters choose their words carefully.
It’s the process that matters. Let’s take the government at its word that it intends to listen to all water stakeholders and show the leadership Canada deserves. Visit https://www.placespeak.com/en/topic/6321-protecting-canadas-fresh-water/#/ to get your thoughts on public record. Make sure ground water and your role in accessing it are part of this important conversation.
. . .
The Canadian National Ground Water Association also is determining the shape it will take. It is considering comments made in the Ground Water Professionals Survey. The survey remains open at groundwatercanada.com – still time to have your say.