Green Issues WATER


Canada has long prided itself on its abundance of clean potable water. Our collective memories have been rather short, especially in Saskatchewan. Good, potable water has not been easily available to many. Underground aquifers have been the source of water for people and livestock, and having the farm or village wells near livestock has frequently created problems. When livestock concentrations were limited to a few head in a pasture, manure problems were also limited.

Feedlot operations have become larger, and we now see operations of many thousands of animals in small, congested areas, with the consequence of large concentrated waste problems.

The development of industrial sites of intensive animal production has been driven by motives of industrial efficiency and corporate profits. In this single-minded value system, the needs of environment and the experience of the animals has not been properly considered.

Nor have the impacts on neighboring communities and farm neighbor been given due regard. In a recent Saskatchewan Environment assessment of a large scale hog operation, after complaints by neighbors that they had been made ill by the foul air coming from the hog operation, and had to be hospitalized, the judgment was that the operation did not exceed occupational health and safety standards!

If toxic fumes such as hydrogen sulfide which foul the air and hospitalize neighbors does not exceed current standards, there is a real problem with those standards or with the people applying the standards. This seems to be another example of industry being right and people having no rights!

The issues of safe treatment and dispersal of animal wastes has not been addressed. The Walkerton tragedy was the direct result of unsafe spreading of cattle manure on open fields which then entered wells used for municipal water supplies. Inadequate monitoring and treatment of that contaminated water compounded the problem.

In Saskatchewan we have had the problem of North Battleford and a parasitic contamination of the city's water supply, and dozens of rural communities dealing with "boil water" orders to prevent many more tragic situations.

The great increase in large corporate profits internationally and nationally, and the concurrent conservative economic and social philosophy that has brought about reduction of taxes for corporations and the wealthy, and the downgrading of infrastructure supports by governments at all levels, has lead to a frightening degradation of many services. The degradation of municipal water services and safety inspections is one of the most immediately life-threatening to many of us.

While the underlying problems are significant, Saskatchewan also has some advantages not enjoyed by other parts of this country and other parts of the world. Saskatchewan is relatively unindustrialized and unpolluted, though the policies of the NDP government and of the Saskatchewan Party are geared to bring us the worst of an expanded and intensified livestock agri-industry without long-term protection of water and other environmental concerns.

Saskatchewan needs a government with a long-term vision for SOUND development of agriculture that looks to the economic growth of Saskatchewan communities and not just the profits of large corporations, a long-term vision that does not think big is always better, a long- term vision that values the quality of air earth and water that present and future generations of citizens will experience, a long-term vision of sustainable policies that take us out of a panic, knee-jerk response to crisis, and directs our planning to a general public understanding and appreciation of sound ecological practices that live in harmony with our planet.

We used to hear about the incredible damage that had been done to major European rivers by industrial and urban pollution. Consider ONE policy change that has , by itself, resulted in a whole chain of responses that have done much to clean up those river systems: Users of public river water had to TAKE their water DOWNSTREAM from where their waste water was discharged!

North Battleford had that system, but failed to take measures to monitor the water effectively and to treat its wastes properly, with the resulting problem. Now they plan to redo their system to take their water upstream from where wastes enter the river. That may deal with part of the problem on a short term, but it does little to influence public thinking and public policy to ensure long-term environmentally sound practices.

Sound, long-term vision policies will only come from a government that believes in such values. In Saskatchewan it will only come from a New Green Alliance government that places priority on quality of human life depending on a quality environment, both of which will support a quality and sustainable economy.

Check the links on this page to items that provide further information and invite you to consider the issues of WATER as a key human and environmental issue for today and tomorrow.




Safe and clean water is a basic necessity for all life on this planet.

Water issues require a large-scale vision, a vision that considers an entire watershed, not just a municipal area.

People are mobilizing to take actions where governments have failed to act.  One major organization of citizens is :

WaterKeepers Alliance Website for the big picture of this amazing development.

Read letter calling for a better understanding of water ecology ,

further questions about government plans