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Water threats

Water is life. Every day there are new threats to our waterways, which jeopardize the health of people and all the life around us.  Below are some of the major issues affecting our water:

  • Plastic and garbage: "sea turtles and dolphins often mistake plastic bags for their favorite foods, jellyfish and squids, choking them or clogging their digestive system. If that’s not bad enough, hopefully the bigger-than-Texas trash vortex in the Pacific Ocean and its smaller cousin in the Atlantic will help serve as a wakeup call." (1)

  • Dead zones: "an increase in chemical nutrients in the water [lead] to excessive blooms of algae that deplete underwater oxygen levels. Nitrogen and phosphorous from agricultural runoff are the primary culprits, but sewage, vehicular and industrial emissions... play a role... Perhaps the most infamous U.S. dead zone is an 8,500 square mile swath (about the size of New Jersey) of the Gulf of Mexico" (2)

  • Water crisis in First Nations: 174 water advisories in over 100 First Nations in May 2018. (3)

  • Commodification of water: Nestle pumps 3.6 million liters of water per day from Six Nations' land, while 91% of homes in the community aren’t connected to the water treatment plant, and some have no water at all or their tap water is too polluted to drink. "Anticipating shortages, companies like Nestlé are trying to lock in as much of the world’s water as possible... The higher temperatures predicted with climate change will lead to less water and more thirst." (4)

  • Fracking: "Fracking uses large amounts of fresh water — in B.C., the average frack uses between 5 million and 100 million litres of water....  leaks and spills of frack fluid have created long-term water concerns" (5) 

  • Tar sands: " The tar sands create 250 million litres of toxic waste — every day. These toxic lakes contain hazardous chemicals like arsenic, lead and mercury that can cause health problems, such as cancer and brain damage. While many of the human health impacts are just beginning to be understood, it appears to be most linked to bioaccumulation in the food chain." (6)

  • Climate change

    • Warming of the Great Lakes: "The Great Lakes region is warming faster than the rest of the U.S., a trend that is likely to bring more extreme storms while also degrading water quality, worsening erosion and posing tougher challenges for farming" (7)

    • Ocean acidification: "When carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater, the water becomes more acidic... the shells of some animals are already dissolving in the more acidic seawater" (8)

    • Sea-level rise: "Beyond the devastating impact this will have on coastal communities and infrastructure, it also has serious implications for the planet’s freshwater reserves which can be contaminated by saltwater [which] would need to be treated with an energy-intensive process to be useful for irrigating crops or drinking." (9)

    • Impact on Inuit communities: "temperatures in the Arctic are rising faster than anywhere else in the world... Virtually every community across the North is now struggling to cope with extreme coastal erosion, thawing permafrost, and rapid destructive runoff... Glacial melt, long relied on for drinking water, is now unpredictable" (10) "people here long ago came to rely on trails over the ice as their lifelines. But those frozen lifelines are increasingly unreliable, prone to sudden thaws, weak ice and dangerous openings.... the impact of climate change on the Inuit psyche is significant, and only just beginning to be understood. Social workers worry it is leading to increased rates of drugs and alcohol abuse, in a place where the suicide rate far outstrips the national." (11)

  • Methyl mercury poisoning: "In relatively remote [mostly Indigenous] communities where store-bought food is beyond affordable for many residents, the impossible choice will be going hungry or taking risks by harvesting dangerously contaminated foods.... Newfoundland and Labrador... and provincial Crown corporation Nalcor [refuse] to undertake significant clearance of trees, vegetation, and topsoil in the Muskrat Falls reservoir area...  Scientists predict that submerged inorganic mercury compounds will begin to “methylate” and produce a neurotoxin, methylmercury, that rapidly bioaccumulates" (12)






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