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The Guelph Mercury weighs in on Guelph’s water conservation strategy. Yes to more conservation, no to a pipeline to Lake Erie!

Candidates Need To Talk About Water
Guelph Mercury, Editorial
September 20, 2010

There’s a sobering chart in the just-issued annual report of the city’s water conservation and efficiency public advisory committee.

The line graph plots the city’s annual water production against its population growth. The population line is ever rising in the 1998-2010 statistical illustration. The water production is a much flatter line – trending down, with the final year tracked providing the lowest volume flow of water.

During the last civic election campaign, there was some talk of a previously floated remedy to this dilemma – the option of tapping Lake Erie via a pipeline.

So far, the issue of providing a sustainable water supply for the municipality has produced little campaign talk. That might change with the emergence of the water conservation report. It would be good if it did.

The city is set to launch a terrific-sounding pilot program related to this policy area.

This week, the community development and environmental services committee will review a proposed incentive plan to encourage new home builders to establish houses that make smarter use of water. The program would see builders be able to achieve rebates of up to $2,460 for installing such things as low-flow toilets and taps, greywater reuse systems, and/or rainwater harvesting systems.

It could be in place by Nov. 1. We hope it is. It appears a wonderful extension of water conservation measures already undertaken by the municipality such as its promotion of the use of rain barrels and encouragements to replace old inefficient toilets with water-conserving ones.

More can be done and needs to be in this area, however. The city is aiming to reduce average daily water use by 8.7 million litres of water, per day, by 2019. That’s an ambitious target and timeframe – before projected population growth during that period is factored into the thinking.

The pilot Blue Built Home Pilot Program is an example of the type of thinking that will be required to meet this goal. We look forward to council candidates adding to the brainstorming about else could be done. Just please, keep the Lake Erie solution bottled up.

For more on this issue listen to Municipal Election Radio, Tuesdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU93.3fm in Guelph. Remember if you don’t catch Municipal Election Radio live, you can always pick it up later that day via the CFRU archive or here, on the blog, a day or so later.

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Transit and Transportation advocate David Graham will be joining us again on Royal City Rag on March 11.

Among other things we’ll be talking about the GTA West Corridor project and the proposed upgrades to the Hanlon Expressway. David also has some interesting things to say about the Go Trains coming to Guelph and why a true Park and Ride facility would be good for Guelph.

The show won’t just be about transit though…

We also have a great interview with Sid Ryan, President of CUPE Ontario about why we should ditch bottled water.

Listen live on CFRU 93.3fm, Guelph’s Campus and Community Radio Station or after the fact via the website.

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A message from GUFF Guelph:

Concerned about  water resources and trees? 

Please consider attending the final Public Information Centre for the proposed Update of Guelph’s Water Conservation and Efficiency Strategy on February 4 from 6.30 – 8.00 p.m. in Cooperators Hall at the River Run Centre, Woolwich Street, Downtown Guelph.

Your input is vital to making the changes we need for our sustainable future in Guelph. The last public information session in December 2008 did not include any reference to our urban forest. The information on new toilets, rainbarrels, etc. was well presented but the maintenance and enhancement of mature urban forest canopy is very important to water resources.

In creating the update, city staff were asked to consider setting a fixed target for the annual amount of water taken by the city. The proposed target would be the 2008 amount and would be fixed for 15 years. Any new requirements for water would be met by added efficiency and conservation measures by current users.

Having the city adopt such a fixed-amount target would be an enormous step forward toward a sustainability approach to all resource use by the city and would be highly complementary to the community energy plan since water treatment, distribution and wastewater treatment are the largest energy use by the city.

For 11 yrs (1997-2007), with increasing education and awareness, Guelph citizens have decreased their water taking. We have very good prospects of increasing our conservation and efficiencies through continuing educational awareness. Many people in Guelph understand the need to take this major step toward sustainability. However, there is some concern that city staff will not recommend this approach to council. A missing component of the water conservation strategy is the urgent need for a protective tree by-law. Everything is connected. Water, energy demand and trees.

“The sustainability of the water resources are linked inextricably with watershed forests, whether they are urban or in the landscape surrounding the urban area” (GRCA Watershed Forest Plan. Chapter 3.2 Urban Forests.)

Please take a few minutes to attend and register your support for the fixed target approach and protection and maintenance of our urban forest canopy.

When:  6.30 p.m., February 4, 2009
Where:
Cooperators Hall, River Run Centre, Woolwich St., Downtown Guelph

More information about this is on the City website, www.guelph.ca under the ‘quick links’ to ‘water conservation’ .

Visit us at www.guffguelph.ca.

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gasvbottledwater1The Unbottle It! Tour: Water as a Human Right

Fresh from her latest visit to Guelph to talk about why we should dump bottled water, Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and United Nations Advisor on Water, will be in Waterloo on Thursday January 22 2009, at the First United Church, 16 William St. W., Waterloo. She will again be accompanied by Sid Ryan, President of CUPE Ontario.

If you missed the tour in Guelph, it would be well worth going along to Waterloo. Both presentations are well worth hearing.

The goal of this visit is to build on local successes at banning bottled water from schools and municipalities, promote new bans, work toward a provincial ban, and help link bottled water to the commoditization of water in people’s minds.

According to the National Office of the Council of Canadians:

 “there are numerous reasons to hate bottled water, including environmental and health concerns, but we’re going on tour to focus on the importance of public water and seeing water as part of the commons, not a commodity. And of course we’ll talk about the need for strong provincial and federal policies to protect water and ensure access to clean water for all Canadians.”

The evening presentations start at 7.00 p.m.

The Unbottle It! Tour: Water as a Human Right
Who: Maude Barlow and Sid Ryan
When: Thursday, January 22.
Admission: FREE
Presented by The Council of Canadians and CUPE Ontario

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Here is the trailer for the new documentary movie, Blue Gold: World Water Wars featuring Maude Barlow based on the book Blue Gold by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke.

Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians and one of the world’s leading experts on the topic of water, has recently been appointed as senior adviser to the president of the Assembly of the United Nations. She will be in Guelph at the Norfolk United Church at 7 p.m. Wednesday January 14 as part of a 15-city tour of Ontario.

CUPE Ontario and the Council of Canadians co-sponsored the Unbottle It! Tour. Sid Ryan, president of CUPE Ontario, will also be speaking.

In every corner of the globe, we are polluting, diverting, pumping, and wasting our limited supply of fresh water at an expediential level as population and technology grows. The rampant overdevelopment of agriculture, housing and industry increase the demands for fresh water well beyond the finite supply, resulting in the desertification of the earth.

Corporate giants force developing countries to privatize their water supply for profit. Wall Street investors target desalination and mass bulk water export schemes. Corrupt governments use water for economic and political gain. Military control of water emerges and a new geo-political map and power structure forms, setting the stage for world water wars.

We follow numerous worldwide examples of people fighting for their basic right to water, from court cases to violent revolutions to U.N. conventions to revised constitutions to local protests at grade schools. As Maude Barlow proclaims, “This is our revolution, this is our war”. A line is crossed as water becomes a commodity. Will we survive?

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Are There Water Wars in Our Future?
Guelph Mercury, January 12, 2009
Letter to the Editor by Brian Skerrett

Dear Editor – Is it just melodrama or sensationalism to hear about the possibilities of war over access to water?

Not according to some of the world’s leading experts in the field. The relatively minor disagreements in Guelph between groups such as the Council of Canadians or Wellington Water Watchers and Nestlé Waters Canada may be a minor glimpse of what is coming.

Milton Clark, a senior health and science adviser for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has stated: “We will in fact get into major water wars. You will see water wars coming in every way, shape or form. In the U.S. there are some leading politicians who have said the Great Lakes do in fact belong (to everyone) and all water should be nationalized — and this certainly is a concern.”

Clark also said, “Water issues that are currently emerging will develop into bitter conflicts in the not-too-distant future when those dry states become increasingly desperate.”

Ontario and Quebec have already signed an agreement that would ban bulk transfers of Great Lakes water to other jurisdictions, and they are now waiting for the eight Great Lakes states and U.S. Congress to finalize a similar deal.

One of the problems is that this ban on bulk transfers does not cover transfers of quantities of water in smaller packages, such as 12-ounce (355 millilitre) plastic bottles. And this leads to the current disputes over water-taking licences involving Nestlé’s plant in Aberfoyle.

Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians and one of the world’s leading experts on the topic of water, has recently been appointed as senior adviser to the president of the Assembly of the United Nations. She will be in Guelph at the Norfolk United Church at 7 p.m. Wednesday January 14 as part of a 15-city tour of Ontario.

CUPE Ontario and the Council of Canadians co-sponsored the Unbottle It! Tour. Sid Ryan, president of CUPE Ontario, will also be speaking.

A special Water Information Fair will precede the speakers, at 5.30 p.m. Representatives from some of the local groups who are working to protect our water resources will attend to distribute written material and respond to questions.

Those who attend will have the opportunity to have their questions answered or their answers questioned. It promises to be an exciting event that is vital to our times.

If you are even a bit skeptical about the seriousness of this issue, check YouTube’s “Blue Gold: World Water Wars.”

Brian Skerrett, secretary, Council of Canadians, Guelph

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campus_cafe_ad_nov20_Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, will be back in Guelph on November 20th to give a presentation as part of the University of Guelph’s ‘Campus Cafe’ speaker series. She has very recently been appointed United Nations Senior Advisor on Water Issues.

Maude’s talk is entitled “The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water”.

The event will be at noon on November 20th in the Atrium of the Science Complex. Admission is free
and all are welcome.

For more details, see www.uoguelph.ca/CampusCafeTalks

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