Water is seen as the most readily available resource on this Earth of ours but a new report on water says this is not true. Fresh water is only one half of one per cent of all water on Earth. Global consumption of water is doubling every twenty years. An alarming statistic when you consider more than a billion people lack access to fresh water. By 2025 the demand for fresh water will exceed the supply by 56% according to the report.
Ismail Serageldin, vice-president of the World Bank says “The wars of the next century will be about water.”
Already tensions are strained between Maylasia and Singapore, Botswana and nambia and the King of Jorden has said the only war he would fight with Israel would be over water.
In Canada things are heating up as British Columbia banned water exports a number of years ago. Now Sun Belt, a California company, is sueing Canada. The company claims that B.C.’s law violates several NAFTA-based investor rights and therefore is claiming $220 million in compensation for lost profits.
The report notes this and other examples saying that selling water to the highest bidder will only exacerbate the worst impacts of the world water crisis.
Social inequity is already part of the water game. In India, some households spend a staggering 25 percent of their incomes on water. In parts of Mexico, water is so scarce that babies and children drink Coca-Cola and Pepsi instead.
More than five million people, most of them children, die every year from illnesses caused by drinking poor quality water.
Around the world, the answer to the increase in water demand has been to build more environmentally destructive dams and divert more rivers. The number of large dams worldwide has climbed from just over 5,000 in 1950 to 38,000 today. No longer are hydro-electric projects seen as green power. In the U.S., only 2 percent of the country’s rivers and streams remain free-flowing and undeveloped by dams or other systems. As a result the continental U.S. has lost more half of its wetlands. In the U.S., the epicenter of freshwater diversity in the world, 37 percent of freshwater fish are at risk of extinction, 40 percent of amphibians are imperiled, and 67 percent of freshwater mussels are extinct or vulnerable to extinction. In the Great Lakes system, the Nature Conservancy has identified 100 species and 31 ecological communities at risk. Eighty percent of China’s major rivers are so degraded they no longer support fish.
Instead of allowing this vital resource to become a commodity sold to the highest bidder, we believe that access to clean water for basic needs is a fundamental human right. Each generation must ensure that the abundance and quality of water is not diminished as a result of its activities. Greater effort must be made to restore the health of aquatic ecosystems that have already been degraded as well as to protect others from harm. We believe that the following ten principles will help to protect water:
1. Water belongs to the earth and all its species.
2. Water should be left where it is wherever possible.
3. Water must be conserved for all time.
4. Polluted water must be reclaimed.
5. Water is best protected in natural watersheds.
6. Water is a public trust to be guarded at all levels of government.
7. An adequate supply of clean water is a basic human right.
8. The best advocates for water are local communities and citizens.
9. The public must participate as an equal partner with government to protect water.
10. Economic globalization policies are not water sustainable.
Seen in this context the water of Eeyou Istchee is more important than ever.