Photo: Water is life

Water drop (Credit: Lana Gunnlaugson)

By Jeffery Young, Aquatic Biologist

Water is life. We use water to grow our food, support industry, and of course, to drink. Water comes from the natural environment (where else?) in the form of lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands and groundwater reservoirs. These water ecosystems also provide food (like fish!), transport routes, recreation, culture and spiritual fulfillment. Keeping water ecosystems healthy ensures these vital services are maintained.

In the province of British Columbia the withdrawal of water, one of our greatest potential impacts on water ecosystems, is controlled by the provincial Water Act. The government of B.C. is planning to update the Water Act and claims that improving water ecosystem protection is one of the priorities. Currently, the Water Act is focused on managing a wide range of water licences, which allow licence holders to remove water for domestic or industrial use. Although the Water Act allows the province to restrict water use to protect water ecosystems there is nothing that actually ensures water is left in streams — fish, and other water life, have no right to water and water can be taken from a stream or river essentially until it runs dry.

The David Suzuki Foundation, along with other non-governmental groups, are providing input on the reforms that would make the Water Act much more effective at what it needs to do: protect water ecosystems. There's a wide range of input we are providing, but there are three key changes needed to ensure fish have a right to water too and that water is left in our streams and rivers:

1. Establish, regulate and enforce ecosystem-based instream flow standards for all streams in all watersheds of British Columbia.
2. Transition to a priority of use water allocation system, including the withdrawal and restructuring of existing water licences to ensure minimum ecosystem flow standards are protected and priority of use can be implemented.
3. Provide regional support for integrated watershed management and shared water governance.
For more background on these key reforms you can check out the briefing note we submitted to the government. You can also check out submissions from some of our partner organizations, including Watershed Watch Salmon Society
and the Pembina Institute.

In the coming weeks we'll need your help in letting B.C. politicians know that improving the protection of water ecosystems is important and that key Water Act reforms are supported by British Columbians. Stay tuned!

May 25, 2010

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May 29, 2010
10:53 AM

My friends, colleagues and family around the world want to send targeted emails of protest regarding off-shore drilling and the inadequate response to the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I have sent a letter to the White House, Secretary Salazar, BP and so on. Who can we direct our letters to in Canada and the U.S. so that our protest and call for greater oversight will be heard? Can you suggest a list of addresses or emails? I know this is not much, but sustained political pressure might bring about new legislation and control of an industry answerable to no one. Thank you.

May 29, 2010
10:53 AM

On the past holiday Monday I was traveling through the Calgary airport and happened to meet a member (Officer) of our Canadian Navy. As I am a born and bred WestCoaster we passed the time talking about sailing the local waters and his travels.

When I asked what his next assignment was he informed me that they would be doing sea trials on a boat that was recently refitted in the waters off of Victoria and then heading for the ballistic testing range. When I queried him if this was the Nanoose Range he informed that these tests were to be taking place 30 km off the coast of Tofino, right in the path of our migratory Orcas and Grey whales. When I asked him (off the record of course) if he thought that these tests would interfere with the whales sonar his answer was a definite “Yes”. He then went on to tell me about “near misses” or the deaths that have occurred when these types of tests have happened in the past.

As a self proclaimed armchair environmentalist, I asked him if he thought that what our government is allowing is wrong and he definitely agreed. We each proceeded to our destination knowing that I would try to bring forth both of our (small) voices in ending this kind of terrorism of our big ocean mammals. So here is my first effort.

May 31, 2010
10:53 AM


The David Suzuki Foundation will be launching an action alert calling for the protection of Canada’s coasts on June 9.

Mar 15, 2011
3:41 PM

Will the new trend called “green burials” be a blessing or burden to nature’s ability to be sustainable??? Are “green burial” trends really eco-friendly. Human remains contain mercury, elements of plutonium etc. ready to infiltrate the soil and water resources.

Shallow burial cemeteries & their possible contamination to soil & groundwater may be a small issue compared to other global concerns but will this bew trend end up being another crisis similar to the plague when unknown e-coli enter our water resources?

May 04, 2011
12:07 AM

I would like to know how to actually do something I know the words to…,

“Fluoride can be removed from water by passing methane through it”. I believe this is something people ought to know.

Mar 18, 2013
10:44 AM

Seeing all these advertisements on tv regarding the “pods” for dish and laundry soap. It struck me that these are extremely dangerous as the plastic material holding the “pods” of soap melt in the laundry (yes even in cold water) and the plastic material goes into the water system. Being that municipal water systems are not currently designed to eliminate such things as hormones (which we know are creating problems with all species)….we now add tiny particles of plastic infiltrated into the water systems….and we end up drinking it.!!
I haven’t consumed tap water for many years, opting for natural spring water instead. But no wonder I don’t drink “tap” water…fortunately I live on a ranch with its’ own well…however, I work in a government office where, sadly, they are so unaware of the dangers of plastics, additives, medications, etc all getting back into our water systems. Is it any wonder we have so much disease…cancer, etc, etc. ? Is this something we should be making the public aware of vs. the convenience of “pods”? This to me, is just another form of polution, only in microscopic proportions, and very deadly, indeed.

May 15, 2013
1:14 PM

Fluoridation of Portland, Oregon’s water from the Bull Run Watershed is being voted on May 21, 2013. There is scientific evidence that salmonids and other organisms may be harmed by fluoridation (Damkaer D.M., and Dey, D.B. studies 1989). I have lived in Portland, Oregon all my life and do not want fluoridation of our precious resource. What is your opinion about fluoridation?

Dec 21, 2013
7:53 AM

“The most far-reaching of the powers of the Canada Water Act conveyed, the ones that give our national leadres muscular powers to protect high-priority watersheds, remain on the books, law of the land. They have never been put to use.. “Down the Drain” by Pentland and Wood. The Canada Water Act is law. It enables us to lay criminal charges against polluters. There are substantial penalties. Our leaders (corrupt? or without courage?) do not enforce the law of the land against corporations. Why is that, I wonder? Do we have lawyers with balls who are environmentalists? How do we make our own government enforce itss own morally responsible legislation? This is a battle that can be won. The legislation is already on the books.

Jan 29, 2014
11:45 AM

love the article! so educational!

Jan 29, 2014
11:49 AM

Love the story! I read it to my children and they really enjoyed it. Theyre telling their friends all about it. xoxo gu xoxo keep posting

Jan 29, 2014
11:55 AM

I loved this

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