We’ll drink to that
Ian Stewart/Yukon News
In case you haven’t heard, it’s national water week.
Tomorrow is World Water Day.
Politicians of all flavours have been quick to seize on this good news opportunity.
What could be more motherhood than standing up for one of the our most precious resources?
The country’s premiers aren’t stupid - that’s why they established a “water charter” in 2010 and launched water week soon after. This year marks the second such celebration.
And platitudes are pouring in.
In the Yukon, perhaps even more so than elsewhere, water is near and dear.
The place is literally swimming in it - rivers, lakes, wetlands, underground aquifers.
We drink it, we eat the fish from it, we clean with it, we travel on it, we make electricity from it and we use it to separate the gold from the gravel.
So it was heartening to hear Yukon Environment Minister Currie Dixon tell the legislature his government recognizes “a sustainable water supply is crucial to our social, environmental and economic well-being.”
And that his government is “committed to maintaining and enhancing the quality of Yukon’s natural resources, including our freshwater resources, for present and future generations.”
But does the government really mean it?
This is the government that moved Minto mine water testing from the Environment department to Energy, Mines and Resources a few years back.
This is the government that has rejected the Peel land use plan that, at its core, is aimed at protecting the water in that watershed.
This is the government that gave the green light to the Carmacks Copper heap leach mine project, only later derailed by the Yukon Water Board for fear it would pollute the Yukon River.
And this is the government that seems to be forging ahead with fracking, the controversial method of extracting oil and gas from the ground.
So it’s encouraging to hear Dixon and his colleagues, on some level at least, pledge allegiance to this resource.
But they’re going to have do more than just show a water film or two and give hydrodam tours to convince the public that they’re sincere.
Encouraging individuals to be mindful of their “water footprint” is all well and fine, but more needs to be done.
To its credit, the government has developed a new website devoted to water, and most recently decided to splurge on drilling water wells to monitor potential groundwater contamination beside community dumps.
With a growing population and increased industrial activity, it’s more important than ever that the Yukon gets water management right this time.
Even if money is your only measure, go to the nearest store to buy a litre bottle of the stuff and you’ll find it’s selling for more than a litre of gas.
So by all means, let’s pay tribute to water this week. And every week.
We’d be happy to drink to that.