Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Two more water stories....

I have two more water stories. The first one is mostly good, but with some frustrating elements. The second one I am fuming about. Chances are there will be some sarcasm and a lot of angry ranting ahead.

This morning I heard on the news that the city of London, Ontario, Canada had enacted a ban on bottled water! Hooray! I checked in with fellow blogger Gord Harrison from that fair city, and he confirmed that there had indeed been a partial ban passed. He then directed me to look at this article from the London Free Press. Effective September 1st, the city will restrict the availability of bottled water at many municipal and city sites, provided there are sufficient public water fountains. The city wants to take a leadership role, emphasizing that its water is safe and economical compared to bottled water, and that using tap water reduces the number of plastic bottles ending up in the land fill. These are admirable goals, and I'm glad the city of London has taken this step to reassert public control over water supplies.

The frustrating part came in the latter half of the article. The few city staff and councilors that were opposed to the move said that it was a move towards more of a "nanny state." Excuse me, but isn't the role of government to take care of its citizens? Sort of like how a nanny takes care of those in his/her charge? How and when did the government doing what it's supposed to do become a bad thing?

One of the councilors said that no Londoner parent would let their kids drink from something as disgusting as a public water fountain. And why, pray tell, are public water fountains disgusting? I drank from them as a kid, and I'm still alive. Heck, I still drink from them today and I haven't gotten any communicable diseases. Most people know to drink from the stream of water coming from the fountain, not by slobbering all over the fountain head itself, no?

Still another objection was that not having bottled water to drink would mean people would chose less healthy beverages, like pop or beer or something. This is also stupid. People drank those beverages before the onslaught of disposable water bottles and they will still drink them, along with coffee, tea and juice. Do these people actually listen to themselves when they talk outloud?

But mostly this is a good news story: the majority of the London city councilors stood up to industry, primarily Nestle Waters Canada, and said we like our clean tap water just fine thanks.
My second water story is a follow up to my previous post on the topic a few weeks ago. I had come across a county worker extracting water from a local wetland area and, much to both of our surprise, I stopped to ask him why he was doing that. After that encounter I called the county office and expressed my concern that water was being extracted out of a wetland area for a construction project up the road.

It gets better: in a letter the County sent me in response to my letter earlier this summer, they told me that no development permits had been issued for the farmland surrounding my rural subdivision. But those earthmovers weren't in my imagination. So in my phone call to the County, I also expressed dismay that not only was there indeed construction going in on the surrounding farmland, but that water from a local wetland was apparently being used in the project. The person I spoke with said he would look into the matter and get back to me. Well, he never got back to me. But this morning on the way to work there was a sign posted right beside the wetland area. A nice ugly spray-painted-orange piece of plywood with two laminated sheets of paper on it, outlining the bylaw that allowed for 750 cubic meters of water to be extracted for purposes of construction from an unnamed body of water.

Now, this had my blood boiling. Why is water in an unnamed body of water open to theft from the environment and named water is not? And why would the bylaw allow for 750 cubic meters (over 198 000 US gallons or about 60 water tanker trucks) of water be removed from such a body of water, regardless of its size? What if taking that much water out of the wetland or lake completely drained it? What about the plants, trees, ducks, frogs, birds, fish, and beavers that live there? What about the flood control that a wetland provides when a bad summer storm comes along? The sheer human arrogance of this practice has me absolutely shaking with rage! How much longer will we rape and pillage the earth? How much longer!!

Tomorrow morning I will stop and take pictures of the sign, and the half-drained wetland and then call the County again, and write to them and send them pictures. I'm a citizen, and I'm going to hold my government accountable. Accountable to me, to the animals and plants in that wetland and for the water they are stealing.


Simply Authentic said...

You are great! I love that you are such a strong advocate, especially for your local surroundings. Hopefully you can get some other individuals to call in about the water draining as well. That does seem strange.

It's also great that London banned the bottle. Woo hoo! I do have a funny little public water thing for you though. One of the middle school students at my hometown middle school actually did an analysis of water taken from the school water fountain and from one of the toilets. He actually found the toilet water to contain less bacteria and to be healthier than the water fountain. However the positive is that the SD has overhauled it's water fountains finally! So I guess in some cases, water fountains (if not properly maintained) could truly be the less choice. Although it's still no promotion for the use of a plastic-chemical-leeching bottle of over priced tap water.

kale for sale said...

I love that you are following up on the water being taken from the unnamed body of water. Your actions are inspiring.

San Francisco city hall expelled city purchased plastic water bottles some time ago too and there was the same kind of bubbling folks creating controversary. We all want to be heard, they were, and the plastic water bottles are striked from the budget. A happy ending all the same.

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

I personally really enjoyed your ranting.

Thant is such good news about the banning of bottled water. The arguments against it are, as usual, nonsensical and illogical, but what else would you expect? I do, however, wonder as you did, do these people ever HEAR what they are saying and how silly it sounds?!

Oh man, that is Orwellian what is going on with the wetland in your area. First they tell you no construction is going on - which there obviously is, you SAW it! And THEN to have that shotty sign posted, I mean, what the hell?! Because the source of water doesn't have a name that means it is ripe for the taking? That doesn't even make sense? How 'bout we just give it a name, does that change anything?

Not only is that ridiculous, and a very large amount of water, we are talking about a wetland, a vital and fragile ecosystem. My blood is boiling just from reading this!

Good for you! Don't back down and make them give you answers. I look forward to hearing what happens.

Theresa said...

I took pictures of the sign today, with the bylaws, and of the half-drained wetland. I'm still fuming, stinking mad. I will go over the details of the bylaw from the pictures I took and then decide how to approach the matter with the County. I am trying not to alienate them. I have this crazy idea that just pointing out that something isn't right means that the powers of be will make it right, but I know that's not how it works. So I have some thinking to do before I respond. Thanks for the support everyone. It really helps to know this makes other people mad too.

Theresa said...

I meant 'powers THAT be', of course. My mad-ness is affecting my typing!

E said...

Good for you! Give them hell! We all know those wetland dwellers can't speak up.
It's so important that govt is held accountable.
We really need more eyes and ears watching whats going on. Especially quick thinking people with cameras!

Theresa said...

Thanks E. I'm thinking it might be a good idea to carry my camera around with me more often. I go by this wetland area every day, and I get mad and sad again each time.

I'm going to be composing my response this weekend and sending it off to the mayor and council members again. I need to take a few more pictures further up the road where you can really tell how dried up the area has gotten.