Just because water has always been readily available to Prince Albert residents doesn’t mean that it always will be, city council was told on Monday.
“As we move forward ... water is going to become the new gold,” Nancy Carswell said before making her presentation to city council.
During her presentation, Carswell demonstrated just how little drinking water there is on the planet. Taking a five-gallon container, she poured out two cups, representing how much fresh water there is.
Taking those two cups of water, about half is locked in ice caps and glaciers, she told council.
“How much of this half cup is surface water for us to drink?” she asked. “It is a drop. Of this five gallon container, the drop … represents the world’s drinking water.”
The local area Council of Canadians member wanted to see the city recognize water as a human right, promote publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services, and ban the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events.
The human rights issue should be self-explanatory, she explained, as water is “essential to human life.”
“No one should be able to control it or expropriate it for profit. The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, accessible water for personal and domestic uses.”
While some members of city council have spoken of private-public partnerships (P3s) favourably in the past, this would be a mistake when it comes to water and wastewater treatment and service, Carswell said.
“There was a particular country in South America that went with a privatization of its water supply and it was an absolute disaster for the people.”
During Monday’s council meeting, Carswell explained to council that when these services are privatized, the rates go up and the accountability goes down.
Banning the sale of bottled water is part of an environmental concern due to plastic’s non-renewable fossil-fuel burning status.
No one should be able to control (water) or expropriate it for profit. The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, accessible water for personal and domestic uses. - Prince Albert area resident and Council of Canadians member Nancy Carswell
“It takes a lot of water to bottle water,” she explained to council. “The production process requires three to five litres of water to produce a one litre bottle of water.”
These requests are all part and parcel of labelling Prince Albert a “blue community.”
“Once you identify yourself as a blue community, it keeps your actions in a state of awareness you otherwise wouldn’t be -- it drives your choice,” Carswell said.
With Canada’s waterways increasingly polluted and depleted by unsustainable industry, Carswell said that elected officials’ constant consideration of water rights is an important component in retaining them.
“The total amount of water on the plant is not going to change,” Carswell told council. “We can change, by being a blue community.”
After Carswell’s presentation to council, the city’s elected officials motioned to receive her presentation as information and to file it, without any discussion. This motion means that they’ve opted to leave things as they currently are, with the policies and procedures council already has in place.
In recognition of World Water Day on March 22, local political awareness and activism groups Common Causes and Cinema Politica are hosing an event at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library.
Beginning at 7 p.m. on March 22, the documentary “Water on the Table” will be shown -- a movie that calls to question whether water being is treated as a human right.
Representatives from the City of Prince Albert, Council of Canadians, Renewable Power the Intelligent Choice, Idle No More, Labour and Food Secure Saskatchewan will speak at the event, which is free of charge and open to the public.