|"When an activity raises
threats of harm to human health or the environment,
precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and
effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.
In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the
public, should bear the burden of proof." - Wingspread
Statement of the Precautionary Principle.
Lake Movie: Speaking for Water!!
Dear friends and water lovers,
Our 2004 Cirque du Lake water cycle circus tour in celebration of
our Great Lakes, communities and water was a wonderful success!
Our performances and bicycle travels across Ontario were met with
endless hospitality, receptive audiences and passionate new faces.
Thanks to everyone for their amazing support.
While on tour we were able to capture lots of exciting moments on video
which I have edited into an energizing 25 minute adventure. More
info at: http://www.cirquedulake.ca/movie.html
'Speaking for Water' is a journey into the heart and voice of water and
other creatures. Many people have said that they find the movie
inspiring and I hope that you do too. I would love for the movie to be
seen by others to share and further an interconnected celebration of
water and life.
DVD copies are now available (VHS on request) so get your very own copy
today! Donations of $10-20 are appreciated ($40 for schools and
organizations). Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
or reply to this email. Please let me know if you would like to
screen the movie or if you have any suggestions.
We are Cirque du Lake asking how you celebrate!
168 Union Blvd,
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New in Conservation Plan
in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix - January 28, 2005
reading the government’s recent Water Conservation Plan, my reaction
water on the prairies is obvious and long overdue, so this plan is an
improvement over having no plan at all.
Nobody can argue with Principle 1 of the plan:
“Water sustains life:
water is essential for the health and well-being of all life, our
society and the ecosystems on which we depend.”
based on this simple principle, we gave top priority to protecting the
water in all our development activities, there is hope for a green and
prosperous economy for Saskatchewan.
the plan’s agriculture sector reads:
“Saskatchewan is targeting significant growth in livestock
production... This growth will significantly increase water use.”
So, it's business as usual, only more of it!
ties in with 2004 reports from SARM, Agrivision, and ACRE.
SARM’s Clearing the Path was to identify and suggest ways to
remove impediments (interveners?) to rural economic development while
standardizing RM regulations (amalgamation?).
its Droughtproofing the Economy report, Agrivision sets out a 50-year
water management scheme calling for 15 more dams on our rivers.
Around the resulting reservoirs, it suggests creating 30
most-likely-to-succeed centres or ‘clusters’, along with increased
industrial animal production, irrigation, processing plants,
finally, ACRE’s report suggests that, to ensure these chosen
communities succeed, the government commit funding to support their
rest of us are free to use our own money to build or maintain schools
the pig factories continue to suck up millions of gallons of our
drinking water to flush tons of toxic manure out of the barns and onto
the fields, ordinary folks down the road are taking three-minute showers
with piped water... if they can afford it!
until the government gets serious about protecting our precious water
and applies the same conservation rules to everybody, these make-work
projects constitute nothing more than another missed opportunity.
"Fifty Year Water Plan" for Saskatchewan
“Fifty Year Plan for Water Development” was recently released by the
Corporation in association with Clifton Associates Ltd. Funded by
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the stated intention is to provide a
framework for rural revitalization in Saskatchewan through enhanced
rationale for the plan was presented at a “Droughtproofing the
Economy” conference in Regina on November 4th . Lead author, Graham
Parsons, presented an argument that, if we were to manage it properly,
Saskatchewan would have lots of water to consistently grow more crops,
feed more livestock (which in turn would provide a basis for more food
processing industry), generate more hydroelectricity, cool more thermal
electrical generation facilities (including what he referred to as
“green nuclear power”), create more water-based tourist destinations
and enhance ecosystems. We are failing, he claims, to use most of the
water that falls on, or flows through, Saskatchewan. This can be
remedied, says Agrivision, by creating a series of dams and water
diversion projects that would capture and re-distribute storm and flood
water. Stream levels would be maintained in dry years, thus enabling a
consistent supply of raw material from irrigated crop production to food
processors who are currently discouraged by the drop in supply during
times of drought.
this plan, more irrigation farming is seen as the key to rural
revitalization. The fact that much of Lake Diefenbaker’s irrigation
potential remains undeveloped is explained by the lack of administrative
infrastructure and support policies. Therefore, Comprehensive Water
Development Corporations (CWDCs) are envisaged, each operating
regionally to create plans for their area to maximize the level of
value-added industry and employment activities. Candidate regions for
such development would be the South Saskatchewan River Basin, the North
Saskatchewan River Basin from the Battlefords to Lloydminster, the
Qu’Apelle Basin, the South West River Basins (Battle/Frenchman/
Wood/Poplar/Swift Current Creek), the Churchill and Northern Water
Development Area and the Assiniboine River Basin. $300 million of
federal and provincial support will be sought for this development.
proponents are anxious to make the point that benefits of their plan
would also accrue to sectors beyond the agrifood industry.
Representatives of forestry, tourism, energy and mining industries were
called in to talk about the importance of water in their businesses.
Images of the Tennessee Valley Authority, Saskatchewan as a significant
electricity exporter, sail boats on beautiful new lakes, as well as the
potential to copy the wealth of Alberta’s livestock and meatpacking
industry were dangled before the conference participants.
in response to questions, the proponents acknowledged that we have very
of the ecological role of the water that at this point appears to be
“unused”. They see it as wasted, but agreed that we need to develop
more data about the natural water regimes both on the surface and
underground. I would suggest that we should be extremely cautious about
further damming and diversion of water without that data being obtained
and carefully examined. We’d better know what we’ve got before we
consider changing it.
with an apparent lack in leadership from government, Agrivision is
initiating a new
“Saskatchewan Water Council”, with Wayne Clifton (head of the
consulting company that developed the plan) as president. This body will
try to move the plan to realization.
questions that this initiative raises are very important ones. Do we
share their vision of a prosperous, moisture-managed, more heavily
populated Saskatchewan, replete with livestock alleys and power exports?
Is it feasible? Is it desirable? Is it ecologically healthy? What would
an alternative dream look like? At the end of the conference futurist
Ruben Nelson urged Saskatchewan people to move from the “victim”
role that we seem to have assigned ourselves, into a proactive one, and
to work towards a “truly new tomorrow” rather than just tinkering
with the familiar present. The challenge will be to define a “new
tomorrow” to which we are all prepared to commit ourselves. I don’t
think Agrivision’s 50 year plan will do the job. But it will provoke a
lot of thinking and important discussion.
Saskatchewan Environmental Society
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"It is really unfortunate that before Canada wakes up to the real
costs of pathetic water treatment schemes the legal battles will be in
- Dr. Hans Peterson, Safe Drinking Water Foundation
The human cost of not treating water
properly, just like in thousands of communities across Canada
I have just returned from traveling among first nation communities in
northern Alberta, I have never known such terrible health issues in any
community anywhere,: irritable bowel syndrome, Crone's disease,
cancers of stomach, uterus, and prostrate, kidney failure, stroke, heart
attacks, and mental disorders.
Neither have I ever seen such destruction of our forests and environment
as in Alberta (thanks, Ralph).
Neither have I ever seen so many communities with boil water advisories,
or communities who should have boil water advisories yet Health Canada
assures them their water is safe! Walkerton residents are struggling
with severe health issues from tainted water - but so are hundreds of
native (and rural) people all over this country.
When are the health organizations like Cancer or Heart &
Stroke going to look to cause and prevention instead of to product
development by their sponsors the pharmaceutical companies? When
are people going to care about water - a basic human right - that
is not available to all Canadians?
Please read the following Globe & Mail article - this could easily
be your family ... The Walkerton Survivors:
Safe Drinking Water Foundation
Drought proofing the Economy
Summary of Meeting
November 4, 2004
"Water is a funny thing. When we have enough
of it, it has almost no value whatsoever. If you have lots of water,
you don't even think about it. But, if we don't have enough, it
becomes priceless and the most valuable resource there is."
~Dr. John Pomeroy, B.Sc., Ph.D., Saskatchewan Watershed Research Facility
(SWRF), U of S
here to read the report.
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Response to Open Letter to Premier
of August 7, 2004
October 19, 2004
you for your August 7, 2004 open letter to Premier Lorne Calvert, in which
you expressed concern about the impact of intensive livestock operations (ILOs)
on drinking water quality in particular, and the environment in general.
The Premier has asked me to respond.
you have noted, progress on improving drinking water has been encouraging,
particularly since the introduction of the Safe Drinking Water Strategy in
April 2002. As part of the
way that drinking water supplies are now managed, further sampling and
follow-up occurs to determine the cause and resolve any problems (when the
results of routine monitoring indicate that there may be contamination).
Although a boil water order is issued whenever E.
coli bacteria are found my monitoring, Saskatchewan Environment
(SE) has determined that many of these instances occur because of poor
sampling technique rather than actual contamination of the water supply.
recognize that protection of water sources is important to help ensure
safe drinking water supplies and economic viability.
To this end, SE and Saskatchewan Agriculture, Food and Rural
Revitalization (SAFRR) have established an ongoing water quality
monitoring program in the vicinity of several large hog ILOs in
south-central Saskatchewan. To
date, no negative impacts on surface water quality have been observed.
The Spirit Creek Watershed Monitoring Committee was established in
2000 to provide an independent review of a hog project in the Spirit Creek
Watershed, and to develop a surface and ground water monitoring program in
that vicinity. The data
collected to this point does not show evidence of contamination or
deterioration of water quality. Further,
the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority was established in 2002 to assist
water users, municipalities and other interested parties in developing
watershed plans to protect their water resources.
trust that this information addresses your concerns and I thank you again
for your letter
Minister of Environment
Premier Lorne Calvert
Honourable Mark Wartman, Minister of Agriculture and Food
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DR. HANS PETERSON
SAFE DRINKING WATER FOUNDATION
past several decades, rural people have been exposed to “experts” that
can fix water with the most “extraordinary treatment systems".
Even treatment techniques that are legitimate, when used inappropriately
may give you worse, rather than better quality treated water. I will
discuss some of those products below.
advantage of carbon filters is the removal of dissolved organic material
in the water. Dissolved organics can colour the water as well as
impart taste and odour among other things. However, carbon filters
rapidly loose their effectiveness on typical rural water in
softening on most surface waters, such as dugouts, is really not that big
of an advantage. Water softeners exchange the calcium and magnesium
in the water for sodium. Most surface waters generally have low
amounts of calcium and magnesium. Well water can, however, be
softened, but the softened water should not be consumed due to increased
levels of sodium.
about magnetic filters? It is a bit like the water treatment company
that sold a black box to a convent in
. They carefully lowered the black box down into the well, collected
their booty, and went on to the next gullible person they could sell
something "heavenly" to. A reputable water treatment
company was called in months later to the convent and they recovered the
black box. It had a crucifix in it.
typically think of snake oil salesmen as people selling poor products
excessively priced. While Health
has filing cabinets full of "water treatment sales gimmicks",
their enabling legislation has no teeth to do anything about them.
Rural people simply have to fend for themselves.
residents now have another treatment solution to watch out for. Sask
Water and Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA),
are promoting water pipelines without considering inherent serious quality
issues nor alternate and in many cases more appropriate solutions.
Here are some of the problems with the actions of these agencies:
- Neither of these
agencies has addressed the appropriate response to most rural water
quality issues – invest in research and development (R&D),
and solve the problem. Indeed Sask Water’s annual legal
costs are now around 20-50 times higher (and growing) than what they
have annually spent on R&D. Instead of investing in scientific and
engineering solutions both agencies subscribe to the notion that the
problem is too difficult to solve. Their solution is to pipe
so-called "good quality water" over vast distances across
- Neither of these
agencies has addressed the inherent problems of moving water over long
distances in pipelines. Their first line of defense has been to
call their product "raw water" or "non-potable"
and for years they got away without conducting any tests on the water.
Sask Health and Sask Environment stood idly by giving them the seal of
- Neither of these
agencies recognized the risks of protozoan parasites, viruses or
indeed bacterial pathogens, such as Campylobacter. That's why
Sask Water and PFRA (blessed by other government departments) promoted
a pipeline extracting water downstream of
's sewage discharge. They then processed the water with minimal
conventional treatment and proceeded to sell that water to
unsuspecting farmers and communities. Treating sewage-tainted
water is a challenge that I suggest not even some of the best water
treatment plants in the province (City of
’s Buffalo Pound) would be too keen to do. Data for one
pathogen alone, Cryptosporidium, downstream of
’s sewage outfall, should give some indication of the challenges
that need to be dealt with.
all Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines (and its not so stringent
relative, the Saskatchewan Water Quality Guidelines) did little to prevent
the Cryptosporidium outbreak in
. The lack of recognized waterborne outbreaks in many
communities does not ensure that the water is safe.
have estimated that more than 1% of the people in a community need to
become ill with Cryptosporidium, for example, before we can expect to
detect it. For every “official” case of a reportable waterborne
illness typically between 10-100
more cases occur, but they are either not detected or not linked to water.
Even during a recognized outbreak, such as
, Saskatchewan Health’s number of people affected was five times lower
’s highlighting the subjective nature of “official” cases.
addition, pipelines bring their own set of problems. The presence of
opportunistic “pipeline pathogens” are not tested for in
pipelines, yet scientific books have been published about them. For
example, distinguished scientist Dr. Edwin Geldreich’s book “Microbial
quality of water supply in distribution systems” provides good
information for pipeline assessments. The safety of
’s piped water is in doubt even with re-chlorination stations in the
Nations report released earlier this year claimed that 80% of all sickness
in the developing world is water-related. It would be appropriate
for government agencies to ask the question: “What percentage of
rural illness is water-related“? After all, the UN declared safe
drinking water a human right last year.
The cost of rural water
continued use of government funds, both federal and provincial, to promote
pipelines across the province should be reviewed in a critical fashion and
not by the government agencies who
seem to be depending on pipeline construction to justify their existence.
Included among the issues that need to be reviewed is the delivery of
infrastructure grants to communities. Is there a fair playing field,
or are communities that subscribe to the government's agenda more likely
to get grants? And, what about
Water and PFRA? Are decisions being made
in the best interest of rural residents, or are decisions purely
I had a
dream after the Walkerton tragedy. The dream was that
would get a civil service that use, rather than abuse, science at all
levels. Engineers and scientists within government agencies are well
advised to adhere to their Code of Ethics and make decisions and
recommendations based on sound science, not politics.
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Legal Shadow – The Golden Rule
DR. HANS PETERSON
SAFE DRINKING WATER FOUNDATION
October 17-18, 2002
, the Canadian Institute in
held the following conference: “Preventing a Municipal Water
Crisis”. It was billed as “A distinguished faculty of more
than 20 leading North American environmental lawyers, senior government
regulators, water engineers, microbiologists and toxicologists will
provide critical information and practical strategies, including:
Canadian municipalities can learn from the disasters in Walkerton
to transition Canadian water utilities to a new level of
Canadian municipalities can successfully manage their watersheds to
protect their drinking water
techniques for safer drinking water in smaller and rural communities
asset management: an innovative new technique that will manage
and finance Canadian water systems"
meeting was dominated by lawyers and indeed it was kicked off with the
Commission counsels for the Walkerton and
inquiries. It continued with engineers explaining how the
water situations were addressed. The first day’s lunch
presentation was by a Special Agent from the U.S. Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) who presented on “Cyber-attacks and their
potential impacts on water infrastructure availability”.
Team Leader for the Drinking Water Utilities Team of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency was the next speaker. During the
second day the program was focused on how drinking water solutions could
be implemented. I gave the following presentation: “How
Canadians in smaller rural municipalities can ensure that their drinking
water is safe: tips, traps and techniques”. The issues I
addressed was described in the program as:
who live in smaller communities face a much greater challenge in
providing safe drinking water than those who reside in larger cities.
Short of moving to a large lake or river, which has been only marginally
affected by human sewage and agricultural waste material, the solution
is complex. The challenge, in part, lies in having to treat water
that requires more resources to treat – which rural users do not have
to the extent that urban centers do. What are the solutions for
smaller municipalities? Hear a leading Canadian water expert
discuss the answers:
solutions for rural and smaller municipalities through innovative
research and development
“treatment units” to remove viruses, bacteria and protozoan
effectively regulates rural drinking water through its Surface Water
Treatment Rule and its Ground Water Treatment Rule
to implement these rules in smaller Canadian communities
methods especially formulated for smaller rural municipalities
with organic carbon levels
innovative treatment methods for arsenic, manganese, and iron in
smaller communities’ water supply
are the successful non-conventional treatment techniques?”
legal arguments followed during this second day of the conference and
after my presentation the lawyer chairing the meeting turned around to
the participants and said: “Let me just explain a simple legal fact to
you. As you have heard from Dr. Peterson’s presentation there
are a host of issues that are of health concern in drinking water
despite they are not in any regulations. Let me remind you that
once you have heard of these issues you are obliged to consider them,
and failure to do so in an event of water treatment failure will afford
you no legal protection”. Simply put, people that become
ill from consuming distributed drinking water have the ability to sue
the municipality whether it meets its
, or Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines.
in government have known for years about chemicals and organisms that
are not in any
or Canadian Guidelines, but that can make you sick. The parasite
in North Battleford’s water, Cryptosporidium, was not in the
guidelines and the Mayor of North Battleford is obviously intent on not
being caught again as he was one of a couple of people from Saskatchewan
attending the conference.
legal shadow following the Walkerton E. coli outbreak and
’s Cryptosporidium outbreak has been dominated by the “Golden
Rule.” The one with the gold makes the rules.
. How many lawyers, engineers and technicians did the Province use
’s failure to comply with a non-existent guideline? Now, good
job this was a town of more than 10,000 people so at least they could
afford one lawyer, what if the Province had decided to apply all our tax
money to fight the community of
with its 180 people instead?
Legal Counsel for
, James Russell, gave a prepared speech at the
was vilified, but for good measure some crumbs of criticisms were tossed
at the Province as well. After his presentation I stood up and
explained to the audience how the Saskatchewan Government had
systematically avoided dealing with the drinking water problems in
’s rural communities throughout the nineties. I also suggested
that if the roles were reversed and
were allowed to run the inquiry that the audience could substitute
throughout Mr. Russell’s presentation.
would of course not happen because
does not have the luxury to tax a million people to fight its cause.
It would, however, put the blame where it belongs. The Province
has known since the late 1980’s that there were major problems in
’s rural drinking water. All they need to do is to look at some
of the many volumes that Saskatchewan Research Council’s (SRC) Water
Quality Section produced (Agriculture Development Fund reports, PFRA
reports, scientific papers etc.). To get an idea what the road
ahead is going to look like you may consult a scientific paper I wrote
that was published by the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association,
which is posted on the Safe Drinking Water Foundation’s web site (http://www.safewater.org).
The title of it is “Rural Drinking Water and Waterborne Illness”.
is unfortunate that
government agencies never saw fit to work on drinking water solutions
. A proactive stance to solve the problems would have been far
more fitting for a higher level of government than bullying small
communities that are trying to deal with the formidable challenge of
producing safe drinking water from some of the world’s most difficult
to treat source waters. It might even have earned politicians some
respect in rural
Back to top
DIRTY DOZEN: Exploding the myths that hide the truth about NAFTA and our
By Wendy Holm
1: The Myth of the First Drop: Exporting one drop of water puts all of
Canada's water at risk.
arose from a misinterpretation of the statement by U.S. Trade
Representative Mickey Kantor (October 28, 1993):
current U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) and the NAFTA are silent
on the issue of inter-basin transfers of water. Inter-basin transfers of
water in which water is not traded as a good are not governed by either
trade agreement. However, under the CFTA and the NAFTA, when water is
traded as a good, all provisions of the agreements governing trade in
goods apply, including National Treatment provisions (Article 301)."
"when" (meaning "each and every time") was taken to
mean "once" and the myth of the "trigger" was born:
one drop of water is exported, all of Canada's water will automatically be
considered a good of trade. . ."
long as we don't call water a good, it won't be one."
"If exporting one drop puts all of Canada's water at risk, banning
exports will save it."
is already a good of trade. B.C. sells bulk, non-Treaty water out of the
Columbia River to the U.S. every year as part of a long-term contract
entered into over a decade ago. The Washington State town of Point Roberts
is supplied by Canadian water. Numerous private sector firms have their
profit centres tied to the sale of bottled Canadian water, much of which
is shipped south. Large industrial users such as the oil and gas industry
(for water flooding, accountable for up to 60% of groundwater withdrawals
in Alberta's oil patch), manufacturers (e.g., pulp mills) and ski hill
operators (for snow-making) rely on licenses to use water (or operate
ungoverned by provincial statute).
NAFTA, Americans have water access rights that Canadian farmers--and
Canadian communities--can only dream about. The first water export is not
a trigger--that trigger has already been pulled.
2: Exports from one province will put all of Canada's at risk.
from one province would make that province more vulnerable because, under
NAFTA's investment chapter, U.S. companies have a right to
best-in-province treatment. But this does not extend to best-in-nation.
3: Canada can't ban exports because that would automatically make water a
"good" under NAFTA, triggering compensation claims.
can't ban exports because Canada has relinquished the right to impose
quantitative restrictions on HCCS 22.01 (water) under NAFTA. Placing a
temporary moratorium on exports until a NAFTA exemption for water is
secured will minimize the number of compensation claims arising from firms
engaged in water exports, but it will not mitigate claims from U.S.-owned,
Canadian-based industrial water users such as the oil patch. Domestically,
a federal ban on water exports raises constitutional issues with the
provinces because, under the Canadian Constitution Act, the management of
water, including for export, falls under provincial jurisdiction.
4: The Farmers' Resolution is about banning exports.
It is about retaining the sovereign right to make decisions concerning
Canada's water resource in the interests, first and foremost, of Canadians
and Canadian communities. To do this, water must first be exempted from
the goods, services and investment provisions of NAFTA (and the FTA). The
decision to export water or not to export water falls to the democratic
processes of individual provinces. But any foray by a province in the
direction of water exports is policy suicide so long as water is included
5: There is nothing in NAFTA that could force Canada to start exporting
water to the U.S. ("Americans can't turn on the tap.")
are a number of "turn-on-the-tap" scenarios. Irrigation is a
clear one. If Canada is contemplating a project that the Americans want to
participate in, our choice may well be inclusion or compensation. Consider
the example of an irrigation project being undertaken to bring the
southern area of a Prairie province under irrigation. American
farmers--armed with expert reports--would be perfectly within their rights
to argue: "Water is a good managed by the province on behalf of
Canada's farmers. American farmers have a right to National Treatment in
the management of that resource. Here is the analysis that justifies a
project capable of also meeting the needs of American farmers, here are
the reports showing little environmental consequence, here is the money to
pay for the upscaling; American farmers want to share in the irrigation
benefits provided to Canadian farmers. The project cannot be undertaken
solely for the benefit of Canadian farmers if American farmers wish also
it's not as if the tap is not already open. There are several incidences
of Canada's ongoing provision of water to the U.S. The border town Point
Roberts is one example, as are large-scale, ongoing bulk water purchases
from the Columbia River system above and beyond the U.S. entitlement under
the Columbia Treaty.
further the fact that water use--where it is regulated--is secured through
the issuance of a license by the Crown conferring rights to withdraw a
given volume of water from a given source. As water becomes an
increasingly scarce commodity (and as society begins to adopt appropriate
conservation technologies), profitability associated with water sales will
drive demand for licenses and exports. Under NAFTA, any attempt by a
province to restrict the use of a license to block benefits to American
buyers would clearly violate National Treatment provisions. (National
Treatment means the Crown cannot restrict the benefits of water licenses
to Canadians. The difference between a license to put water on a field and
a license to put water in a tanker is moot.) The choice? Capitulation or
Compensation under a Chapter 11 challenge for lost profits.
importantly, policy concerns arising from water's inclusion in NAFTA are
not limited to situations of water export; American firms doing business
in Canada have NAFTA-based rights to water which are superior to the
rights of Canadians operating alongside them, including farmers. (For
example, water flooding: the use of water in the oil patch to extract the
last 20% of oil and gas reserves.)
6: There is nothing in NAFTA that could force a province to increase the
volume of export beyond the level agreed.
will be the profit expectations of the private sector that fuel water
market development. The essence of NAFTA is that the State cannot
intervene in the business of markets. The government does not
"own" the water, Canadians do; provincial governments simply
manage the resource in the interests of Canadians. The profit incentives
of the private sector (water entrepreneurs) and the refusal to accept
limits to growth (global demand) will bid up offerings. Water licenses
will increase in value proportionate to profit opportunities.
7: The concept of National Treatment applies to imports not to exports.
upon a time, but not any more. The FTA changed this back in 1987 when it
substituted the word "trade" for "imports" when
importing the GATT definition of National Treatment. The FTA still stands.
Further, NAFTA imports [explicitly includes] Article 711 of FTA, which
includes water as an agricultural good. All international statements to
date (e.g., Kantor) acknowledge that National Treatment rights extend to
8: Canada made explicit amendments to the NAFTA legislation prohibiting
the bulk export of water.
the days leading up to the 1988 election, Canada introduced amendments to
our domestic enabling legislation to ban bulk water export. The trouble
is, Canada's domestic enabling legislation does nothing to change the
terms of the international agreement. After signing the FTA and NAFTA,
each Party was obliged to go home and enact an omnibus bill that gives
full force and effect to the terms and conditions agreed to at the
international table. Neither side vets or approves these domestic bills.
It is the FTA and NAFTA that prevail, not Canada's domestic enabling
9: Recent changes Canada made to the International Boundary Waters Treaty
Act prohibit bulk exports of water.
Act applies only to "boundary waters"--the Great Lakes, Lake of
the Woods, and portions of the St. Lawrence, Upper St John and St. Croix
rivers. It does not apply to waters west of the Ontario border, in Quebec,
and much of the Maritimes. The amendments to the Act do not ban bulk
removals of water from drainage basins, but rather restrict removals to
licensed withdrawals at the pleasure of the Minister of DFAIT, who also
gets to define what is meant by "drainage basins." (The last
time the feds attempted this definition--in the failed Voluntary
Provincial Accord--they stated that Canada has five drainage basins: the
Atlantic, the Pacific, the Arctic, James Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico.)
10: The leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico signed a joint
declaration that water in free-flowing lakes and rivers is not subject to
in free-flowing lakes and rivers is not at issue. The joint statement
signed by Chretien, Clinton and Salinas (below) was a) not binding on
NAFTA, and b) expresses the same point made by Kantor: once water enters
into commerce and becomes a good of trade, all provisions of the NAFTA
water, in any form, has entered into commerce and becomes a good or
product, it is not covered by the provisions of any trade agreement,
including NAFTA. And nothing in NAFTA would obligate any NAFTA Party to
either exploit its water for commercial use, or to begin exporting water
in any form. Water in its natural state, in lakes, rivers, reservoirs,
aquifers, water basins and the like is not a good or product, is not
traded, and therefore is not and never has been subject to the terms of
any trade agreement.
there is human intervention in the flow of a river to provide water when
and in the quantity needed, a "good" is created. And there is
plenty in the way water licenses are issued that will prevent provinces
from discriminating on potential water uses that will benefit Americans.
It will be the market that will pressure private entrepreneurs to seek
water export licenses.
11: If Canada does decide at some point to allow the export of water, it
must make sure that it has a binding legal agreement that allows it to
reduce or cease the supply in the future.
point is that NAFTA is the binding agreement, and NAFTA does not allow
12: The Americans will never allow it (exempting water from NAFTA).
problem to date has been to raise sufficient political will to get our
politicians to stand up to the Americans and say "here is the rock,
here is the hard place. It's an error and the people of Canada want it
Americans do this all the time. Every contract has an "out"
clause and the U.S. frequently threatens to walk if their interests are
compromised. Well, in this case, Canada has the goodies on the table. We
just need the political will to stand up and speak out.
Canada's farmers stepping forward in leadership and Canada's consumers
showing strong and visible support, the pressure to "go through the
gate and get 'er done" will prevail.
we do not live in a democracy.
Holm is a professional agrologist and author based in British Columbia.
She has written extensively on water issues and policies.)
from The CCPA Monitor, July/August 2003
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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to Environment Canada
August 30, 2004
Water Use Branch
Water Policy and Coordination Directorate
Environmental Conservation Service
351 St. Joseph Blvd., 7-PVM
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0H3
I would be
interested in seeing an updated version of the facts given on your
website regarding the 9% water usage by Agriculture. It appears that
the info relates to the 1996 figures.
here for more information.
I am sure that,
with the expansion of the mega hog barn industry in this country since
then, those figures would be totally different. Especially when
one considers that, every year, a single 5000-sow hog operation uses 50 million
gallons of our drinking water - there are hundreds of them across our
beautiful country. And, of course, as the number of operations
increases, so too does the quantity of water used as well as the threat to
our environment and our health.
Most of this
drinking water goes to flushing manure off the barn floor into the
collection pit below the animals before it is moved into the open
cesspools the size of 2 or 3 football fields beside the barn.
About once a year, these cesspools are emptied by spreading the liquid
manure, raw and untreated, onto our fields and pastures as so-called
'fertilizer'. Containing antibiotics, growth hormones,
antibiotic-resistant bacteria and hundreds of other compounds, many of
them carcinogenic, it is then free to contaminate our sources of surface
water and underground aquifers, and on into our wells.
We are all part
of the current 'risk assessment' and 'risk management' mode of making
decisions which affect our environment and our health. This
out-dated process asks: How many rivers and lakes can be
contaminated, and how many people can become ill or die, before this
government will be forced to get serious about protecting our precious
asking what level of harm is acceptable, a precautionary approach asks:
How much contamination can be avoided? What are the alternatives to this
product or activity, and are they safer? Is this activity even necessary?
The precautionary principle focuses on options and solutions rather than
risk. It forces the initiator of an activity to address fundamental
questions of how to behave in a more environmentally sensitive manner.
Declaration from the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development, also known as Agenda 21, states:
In order to
protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely
applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats
of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall
not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent
here for more information.
As it is, however, we continue to permit an ever-increasing number of pig
factories, knowing that the irreversible contamination of our precious
drinking water also continues. We are creating an environmental and
health 'ticking bomb' with the potential for enormous harm.
It doesn't have
to be this way!
Environment Canada enact 'public good' governance, and put a stop to the
industrial production of hogs in this country?
Elaine M. Hughes
Stop the Hogs Coalition
Member, Beyond Factory Farming
Box 23, Archerwill, SK S0E 0B0
LETTER TO PREMIER CALVERT
Regina, SK S4S
letter is in response to two recent government Press Releases:
July 27, 2004 “Protecting Our Water” and July 30, 2004
“Second Report on Drinking Water Released”.
should be encouraged by the activity these press releases imply.
However, according to the August 4, 2004 report on Sask
Environment’s website, there are 78 Precautionary Drinking Water
Advisories and 21 Emergency Boil Water Orders currently in effect in
Saskatchewan. We also note
that, of these 21 Emergency Boil Water Orders, 15 were issued because
testing of the wells indicated the presence of E.coli bacteria.
of course, lack the ways and means of tracing the sources of this
contamination, but it does beg the question:
how many of these 15 wells have been contaminated by E.coli
bacteria originating at any of the hundreds of mega hog operations across
this province? And, even more
worrisome, how many more wells will be contaminated and how many innocent
people will become ill in the future as a result of the existence and
proliferation of these projects?
answer is: we don’t know.
are no independent Environmental Impact Assessments done before the hog
operations are given an operating permit, so we have no way of knowing
what the long term effects of this pollution will be on the environment
and on our health. What we do
know, however, is that hog manure is one of the most common potential
carriers of, among many others, E.coli bacteria.
We also know that every time an operating permit is issued to yet
another pig factory, our drinking water and our health are being
increasingly threatened. What
is it going to take for this government to understand that these two
entities cannot co-exist?
continue to educate the public about the enormous environmental and health
risks posed by industrial hog production across our beautiful province.
Through our ongoing discussions with others, we encourage and
support local family farmers who raise animals for food in sustainable,
environmentally safe methods, and we encourage consumers to seek them out.
cannot continue to expect the natural systems to be able to cleanse our
water from the enormous amount of manure produced by these confined
animals. We continue to ask
the Saskatchewan government: when
is it going to use wisdom and precaution to protect our precious drinking
water and our health by imposing a moratorium on the expansion of pig
factories in Saskatchewan?
the Hogs Coalition
Beyond Factory Farming
23, Archerwill, SK S0E 0B0
Sask Party Caucus