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24th March 2022
LETTER: We should not take our clean water for granted

World Water Day, March 22, is an opportunity to reflect on the many threats to our water supply, says letter writer

Letter to the Editor
Mar 20, 2022 8:00 AM

Tuesday, March 22 is World Water Day – a day to celebrate and recognize the critical importance of water in our lives (and our existence) and to raise awareness about the billions of people living on this planet without access to safe water.

In Canada we are blessed to have 20 per cent of the world’s surface freshwater and up to 7 per cent of the world’s renewable water flow (third highest in the world).

I suspect many Canadians take water for granted – you just turn on your tap and it is there. However, there are real threats to our water supply, particularly in rural areas where we rely on ground water or in the more urban areas in our region that rely on sourcing all/part of their water supply from municipal or other common wells.

Some of these threats include:

Increased consumption due to continued residential and business development.

The adverse impact of development on the quality of our rivers/streams, wetlands, lakes and the aquifers our wells tap into and rely on.

The effect of gravel mining in terms of the impact of pits/quarries that go below the water table and the massive amounts of water they extract to wash gravel. As but one example, a September 2021 approval allows one mine/pit operator in Oro-Medonte to use up to 3.6 million litres per day for up to 200 days per year – or 720 million litres/year.

The average person consumes about 300/litres per day so one pit alone uses as much water as 6,000 – 7,000 people would in a year (or about what about one quarter of the residents of Oro-Medonte would consume).

Business that consumes huge quantities of water like water bottling plants. For example, a local water bottling facility is authorized to consume over 300 million litres per year.

And, of course, climate change on our water supply.
So, as a resident who depends on well water, I am concerned that some day our water which is currently pretty pure will become polluted or that there simply won’t be enough to go around, and our wells will run dry.

I am not alone in my concerns. For example, there is a group in Ontario called the Reform Gravel Mining Coalition (you can Google it), that is calling for a moratorium on the approval of new gravel mines/pits until an independent panel of experts can conduct a review and make recommendations to ensure that gravel mining does not compromise our groundwater today and in the future.

So, something to reflect on – on World Water Day.

Doug Varty