In December 1992, in Rio De Janeiro, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring March 22nd every year to be World Water Day.
The theme for World Water Day 2021 is “Valuing Your Water”, and poses the question to the world: “What does water mean to you and how can you help protect this vital resource?”
Water as we know is vital for our health, wellbeing and hygiene; but it is also valuable to some people for cultural, religious and spiritual practises. It provides a connection with creation and the creator to many indigenous people all over the world, allowing harmony, peace and preservation into their lives.
As we in Peachland look out at the great expanse of water in front of us that is Lake Okanagan, and feel so lucky to live in such a pristine and beautiful environment with an abundance of natural resources, it is often hard to comprehend why our water quality is so bad, especially in Springtime.
Whilst our supply, on the whole, meets the basic health guidelines, we are always reminded at the freshet (spring water run off) when boiled water advisories are commonplace that our system is in desperate need of upgrading.
So, with information passed on to me by our Wellness Centre friend, Kristen from the Peachland Phoenix, she tells me the new Peachland Water Treatment plant is planning to be operational on March 22nd to coincide with World Water Day.
The District finally got the funding for the new plant that as of March 22nd will provide treated water to two-thirds of Peachland. The remaining households will get connection from the separate Trepanier interconnect by the end of April.
We have all seen the gouge of earth splitting open the hill to the north of the mall. That’s the new pipeline connection up to the Trepanier bench.
This is great news for Peachland! Year round treated water, no more boiled water advisories, and no more brown water in the bath tub, but spare a thought for other Canadian communities who are not so lucky.
Today in Canada there are 133 water advisories in place in 89 First Nations Reserves. Considering Canada has an abundance of water, it is hard to fathom that these communities depend on water that is not safe to drink, hard to access, and toxic due to faulty antiquated treatment systems.
Shoal Lake straddles the Manitoba/Ontario border in the Lake of the Woods region, and supplies the city of Winnipeg with its water supply but, ironically, the Shoal Lake First Nations Reserve has not had access to clean water since the reserve was cut off from the mainland in 1915 during construction of the aqueduct that takes the water to Winnipeg. The people of that community have been on a constant boiled water advisory for 22 years. After a lot of hard work by the indigenous community and their supporters lobbying the government, Indigenous Services Canada is finally contributing up to 33 million dollars for the project, which is now under construction.
World wide, water is under extreme threat everywhere from population growth, demands from agriculture and industry, pollution and climate change. We all need to act now and ask ourselves how can we protect and ensure this vital and precious resource exists for generations to come. Whether that involves advocating for local organizations or using less water at home. It all counts.
So hopefully we do not take our water supply and how we access it for granted. Canada still has room for improvement, especially in First Nations communities, but hopefully the Shoal Lake project will be the start of many more.