Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Water security at risk as drought, oil processing lower Alberta's water table

Derek Schutz in the Gateway (the student newspaper at the University of Alberta): In conjunction with World Water Day on March 22, Change for Children is co-ordinating a series of events to bring light to issues surrounding water scarcity and water use in Alberta and around the world. According to Fiona Cavanagh, program manager of education and public engagement at Change for Children, students can get involved and bring awareness to water issues by being "Water Campaigners."

"We're asking people to commit to be a water campaigner over the month of March which means we would give you a water kit with information on some water issues [...] and we'll ask you to collect 22 emails from people who'd like to know more about the work we do," she said.

Change for Children is an Edmonton-based charity dealing in the global south. They will be accepting donations to fund their various projects, one which provides fresh water sources to rural Nicaraguan communities in partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency.

"We have many water projects. The big one we have has impacted over 70 communities in rural Nicaragua," Cavanagh said. "It's not just about ensuring communities have access to water, which is a big part, but it's also really supporting communities to manage water locally."

But according to Cavanagh, the main issues surrounding water and water scarcity are just as applicable to Alberta as they are abroad. "There are three issues [...] and I would say these are issues for Alberta as much as they are for Nicaragua. One is dwindling fresh water supply and quality of that water [...] the other one is inequitable access to water globally," Cavanagh said. "The third one is governance of water and how we manage it."…

This is a picture of Syncrude's base mine. The yellow structures are the bases of pyramids made of sulphur - it is not economical for Syncrude to sell the sulphur so it stockpiles it instead. Behind that is the tailings pond, held in by what is recognized as the largest dam in the world. The extraction plant is just to the right of this photograph and most of the mine is to the left.

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