We cannot keep taking water for granted

The boil water advisory issued to Crofton water users on Wednesday brought home just how important clean, fresh water is

The boil water advisory issued to Crofton water users on Wednesday brought home just how important clean, fresh water is to life as we know it.

This particular boil advisory is the result of a leak in a supply line that brings the water from the Cowichan River to Catalyst Mill, which treats the water for users in the area.

In a few days, the leak will be corrected and things will go back to normal.

Many, many places have no such luxury.

Lake Cowichan water users have endured boil order after boil order for years now as they look for funding to upgrade their systems.

Other places in Canada have been under boil advisories for upwards of a decade.

At any one time, there are more than 1,000 communities where people cannot consume the water from their taps without boiling it first.

It seems almost unthinkable that this is the state we find ourselves in, living in a First World country like Canada.

It’s not as if water has traditionally been scarce here.

But perhaps that’s part of the problem. In Canada, we take our continued access to water for granted. Many of us live either on a coastline or in proximity to a lake.

We tend to think that water is something that’s always been there and will always continue to be there in the future, no matter what we do.

This, of course, is not the case at all.

We are badly polluting and contaminating much of the water that’s available to us, whether it’s dumping raw sewage into it as a treatment method for our waste, like Victoria, or allowing it to be sullied by agricultural and industrial runoff.

Or there’s simply the sheer amount of garbage we as individuals throw into it every day.

Try going to a beach in Cowichan and take note sometime of the disgusting number of cans and bits of plastic that litter the shore and float in the water tangled in the kelp and driftwood.

Just looking at what we send out with the tide it is not hard at all to believe the reports of the giant floating islands of plastic the size of Canadian provinces that clog areas of our great oceans, killing the sea life that tries to feed on it.

The detritus of our consumer lives is killing our planet — not so slowly.

It will continue to hit closer and closer to home if we do not enshrine in legislation at every level of government our rights when it comes to access to clean, potable water. Many would no doubt be surprised at the protections we don’t have at the moment.

And don’t even think of wholesale water privatization. That’s a deep dive into destruction.