Email Updates sent across the Federation
November 21, 2019
These past few weeks, coordinator Paul Baines has been following water issues in the news, while also participating in a grassroots review of Ontario's bottled water permit policy.
A network of water groups have been trying to limit Nestlé's access to groundwater for years. Led by groups such as the Wellington Water Watchers, this network (which our Blue Community project is a member of) has been raising awareness about the impacts of the bottled water business and asking for a science, ethics, and rights-based approach for sustainable and just water policy.
Attached is a 2-page information sheet with a 4-page version available on our website. These past two weeks have seen major shifts in bottled water policy. Two weeks ago, water protectors were asking for public support to extend the current moratorium on new bottled water permits. One week ago, we found out that the ban would be lifted at the end of 2019, allowing for growth in the industry including a third well for Nestlé near Elora Ontario. The pressure was on to let Jeff Yurek (our Minister of Environment, Conservation, and Parks) know that there are far too many unresolved issues to grant new permits. The moratorium was needed to address water flow science, plastic pollution, the rights, consent, and jurisdiction of Indigenous nations, as well as a groundswell of public opposition. None of these issues have been addressed since the ban started 2 years ago. Then, just days ago, the Provincial government announced it would add another nine months onto the ban. See below for submitting your comments about this extension.
What happened during these two weeks? Environmental Defence launched a petition that gathered 10,000 signatures. The Council of Canadians also launched a petition that gathered 10,000 signatures. Save Our Water in Elora launched a letter writing campaign and Wellington Water Watchers held 4 high profile public events (called All Eyes on Nestlé tour) in four cities and launched a campaign organizing people to phone Minister Yurek (MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London).
Paul Baines will be writing a blog post about a his experience at the All Eyes on Nestlé talk in Guelph last week and a follow-up full-day workshop on strategy with an international network of organizers highlighting the damage of the bottled water industry and Nestlé in particular. You can see the entire Guelph event in this video link. This tour also included stops in Toronto, Waterloo, and Hamilton. Maybe you were there? If so, share some of your thoughts and Paul will include them in his blog post. Email him at: email@example.com
These past two weeks have also seen an explosion of stories about Canada's lead crisis in tap water and the growing amount of Trihalomethanes (THMs) in our waters, highlighting Tottenham, just north of Toronto.
This update will close with quick links to an upcoming water event in Toronto, a water award to a grade 6 student, and a comedy sketch video about politics of Land Acknoweldgements.
Lastly, our project Coordinator has been invited to speak about our Blue Communty at several upcoming events. November 27/28 at several Catholic schools in Sudbury. January 11th at the Villa St. Joseph in Cobourg. April 25th in Hayriver, Northwest Territories for the Catholic Women's League. August in Orillia for the SAIL Call to Action event.
Coming in the mail for you are new Water is Life stickers. See the attached image for a peak at the design and in the coming days watch for a package of these arriving at your house.
Canada's Tap Water Lead Crisis
Lead water crisis reveals federal government’s inaction on water issuesEarlier this week, an investigative report by several media outlets revealed dangerously high levels of lead in tap water across Canada. This investigation took a combined effort from 120 journalists, working at nine universities and 10 media organizations across the country. They reported that millions of Canadians are exposed to this neurotoxin through the aging lead pipes that distribute water from municipal water treatment plant to households across 11 cities.
How does lead get into our drinking water? The water leaving municipal treatment plants is lead-free, but lead enters the water through the network of antiquated lead pipes. These aging pipes are part of the crumbling water and wastewater infrastructure problem that plagues municipalities across the country. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimates that municipalities need $50 billion to upgrade their water and wastewater infrastructure in poor or very poor conditions.
A massive Canada-wide investigative project revealed that a third of Canadian homes and schools tested had dangerously high levels of lead contamination in drinking water. While that fact itself is shocking, the reality that it took a team of reporters and scientists months to unearth it is perhaps more troubling. Why is there no central process for testing and reporting contaminants in drinking water? Why do so few people have access to this information? Where was the breakdown in government oversight? And now that we know...what do we do about it?
What are the next steps to ensure safe drinking water across Canada? First, a single health-based water quality standard and standardized monitoring protocols must be adopted. Second, it is important to identify where lead pipes are present, so consumers can be informed of the health hazard and their removal can be planned. Third, corrosion control and other strategies to avoid unnecessary water lead exposure must be implemented. Finally, monitoring results and progress of corrective actions must be transparent and shared in real-time, along with appropriate public health guidance.
Trihalomethanes (THMs) in Our Waters
For more than 15 years, politicians and health officials in the township of New Tecumseth have known the tap water in Tottenham, population 5,000, contained suspected carcinogens called Trihalomethanes (THMs), which studies have linked to pregnancy complications, spontaneous abortion, growth retardation, gastrointestinal disease, some cancers and damage to the heart, liver, kidneys and central nervous system.
In Ontario, provincial data shows that since 2016, more than 80 communities have exceeded the provincial limit of 100 ppb, including North Bay, Innisfil, Kawartha Lakes and Timmins.
KAIROS Canada is pleased to invite you to a public launch of the Mother Earth & Resource Extraction: Women Defending Land and Water Info Hub (also known as MERE Hub) on Nov. 27 at Ryerson University from 5:20 p.m. onwards.
“Canada is not a sustainable water society,” said Corinne Schuster-Wallace, co-author of the report and a professor of water-related human health at the University of Saskatchewan. “We have challenges and they are going to get worse if we don’t do something about them.”
Overall, water quality is slowly degrading. While 112 of 175 Canadian river monitors showed good or excellent water quality, the changes that have appeared show more declines than improvements. Little is known about many watersheds. Quality data only exists for 67 of 167 sub-watersheds in Canada. Of those, almost two-thirds are rated fair or poor.
Nari Hwang, a Grade 6 student at Shanty Bay Public School, won the Ernie Crossland Young Conservationist Award. Living on the north shore of Lake Simcoe's Kempenfelt Bay, Hwang has made art out of garbage and plastics to bring awareness to the amount of plastic garbage found in rivers, oceans, lakes and streams, and the negative effect these items have on the environment throughout the world. Hwang is passionate about protecting Lake Simcoe from pollutants and plastics and keeping the lake healthy. She is an avid blogger on her site, Make Clean Water Happen, where she offers tips on reducing one’s impact on the environment.
A confidential city report shows councillors have known since January that 24 billion litres of untreated sewage escaped undetected over a four-year period from a massive sewer overflow tank into Chedoke Creek, which runs along Highway 403 into Cootes Paradise. The watery sewage — enough to fill 10,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, or an area of 12 square kilometres to a depth of two metres — seeped out of the tank because a gate had been left partially open for more than four years.
MORE ON THE BOTTLED WATER INDUSTRY
The moratorium on new and expanded permits to take water for bottling was put in place by the former Liberal government in 2017 after bottled water giant Nestle purchased a well near Guelph that the township of Centre Wellington wanted for its future drinking water supply. The Progressive Conservative government extended it last year, and with the new expiry date of Jan. 1, 2020 looming, the Tories are looking to push that back to Oct. 1, 2020.
This consultation closes at 11:59 p.m. on: December 18, 2019
More on Nestlé
In September, Nestlé inaugurated the Institute of Packaging Sciences in Lausanne, which has a goal to ensure that all of the company’s packaging will be recyclable or reusable by 2025 and that none of it will end up in landfills or floating in the Pacific. Activists say recycling is not a solution. Experience shows that even recyclable packaging usually winds up being thrown away. Poorer countries lack the necessary infrastructure. The solution is to make packaging reusable, said Graham Forbes, global project leader for Greenpeace’s plastics campaign. “If they want to remain viable in the future, they need to embrace the direction young people want to go, which is away from throwaway culture,” Mr. Forbes said.
Ultimately, the debate’s particulars lead back to a question at the heart of issue: should water be commodified and sold by private industry, or is it a basic human right? Former Nestlé chief executive and chairman Peter Brabeck labeled the latter viewpoint “extreme” and called water a “grocery product” that should “have a market value”. He later amended that, arguing 25 liters of water daily is a “human right”, but water used to fill a pool or wash a car shouldn’t be free. At its current pace, the world will run out of freshwater before oil, Brabeck said, and he suggests privatization is the answer.
October 27, 2019
There are two recent blog posts up on the CSJ Blue Community website.
I Am Water: introduce yourself with water
Many of the actions we can take to honour water as a human right, shared commons, and sacred gift are collective, yet the ways we describe who we are and where we are from can shift the broader water-agenda in profound ways.
Going International To Stop Nestlé Locally
Related to the Nestlé issue, the Wellington Water Watchers are hosting a series of events in Waterloo, Hamilton, Toronto, and Guelph from Novemember 11-14th. See the details on our website:
Also related to Nestlé, remember that Halloweeen is extra spooky and scary when supporting Nestlés profits. Much of the candy shared as treats on Halloween includes the trick Nestlé plays locallly and globally when it steals spring water in Ontario, British Columbia, California, Florida (and the list goes on) and uses child slave labour to produce its chocolate. Nestlé candy brands include, Kit Kat, Crunch, Butterfinger, Aero, Smarties, Coffee Crisp, Turtles, Rolo, Nerds, Sweetarts, Laffy Taffy, Runts, Gobstopper, Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip, Pixy Stix, Bottle Caps, Kazoozles and Gummies.
If you haven't had the chance yet to read our latest Blue Community newsletter, you can see and share it on our website. It focused on the Federal election and included two recent events featuring Maude Barlow's new book Whose Water is it Anyway: taking water protection into public hands. Guess who is on page 89? Yes, the our CSJ Blue Community, our Water is the First Medicine slogan and a few more details. Do you have access to the book? Is so, let me know what you think. If not, let me know who I help you get a copy right away. See our Fall newsletter on our website:
“One trillion litres of sewage leaked into Canadian lakes and rivers over last five years”.
Just one of the many conclusions from a recent Our Living Waters report about sewer overflows during heavy rains in Canadian cities. See the full report and community toolkit here. If you want to tackle your community's sewage overflow, get in touch.
Have you heard of the Junior Water Walker project? Inspired by the late Josephine Mandamin and a book based on her effort to protect water ("The Water Walker" by Joanne Robertson) a Thunder Bay Geography teacher (Peter Cameron) started connecting schools across North America to continue the work of protecting the sacred gift of water. See Peter's website and the map of Junior Water Schools.
Our Blue Community project has been using water justice to also reconcile with the Indigenous water protectors in our areas. We want to learn about the common grounds we share for sacred waters and we want to get to know the watershed we live in. Part of this includes exploring and creating meaningful land and water acknowledgents for where we call home. The project did a pilot workshop on this topic a few months ago that you can read about. There is also this resource by the Native Governance Center with many useful tips and reflections such as:
Start with self-reflection
Do your homework
Use appropriate language
Use past, present, and future tenses
Land acknowledgments shouldn’t be grim
See the full guide here: https://nativegov.org/a-guide-to-indigenous-land-acknowledgment/
August 26, 2019
There is a water justice Summit coming to London this fall. The Water is Life Alliance is hosting its next gathering at Western University on Saturday, September 28th. Speakers include: Maude Barlow, Lela George, Holly T. Bird, Claire McClinton, and more. Find out more on their website.
TV Ontario segment on drinking water crisis on First Nations reserves. See the video. From the TVO website: Water quality advisories are nothing new in Indigenous communities and Attawapiskat First Nation is the latest place to declare a state of emergency over water. The crisis highlights the long, rocky road still ahead for reconciliation. The Agenda welcomes Willow Fiddler, an APTN video journalist and Dawn Martin-Hill, academic director of the Indigenous Studies program at McMaster University, and Marc Miller, parliamentary secretary to the minister of crown-Indigenous relations, to discuss this issue.
Support the Water Doc Film Festival. No other film festival in Canada brings together so many water educators, activists, artists, organizations and protectors into one space to raise awareness and inspire action to protect water. See and share their fundraising page now reaching only 50% of their goal.
Any day now, Nestlé will have to submit a new application for a permit and you can bet it’s hoping to do so under the radar. But if we can make a huge stink now, we can pressure Ontario’s government to deny the permit and stop Nestlé’s greedy water grab for good. Sign and share the petition.
To learn more about water issues and to take action, visit the Blue Community website.