Pipeline feels like giving up

I was happy to hear John (@JMacArch) asking this very important question of our local candidates, and James (@KingandOttawa) spreading the word…

KingandOttawa RT @JMacArch: Are pols along Grand Rvr elected in ’10 deciding on multi-B $ pipeline from L Erie or growth with present resources? #Vote WR

This is a fundamental issue, and represents another opportunity for our local policy to evolve.  Here are some of my thoughts on the proposed pipeline to Lake Erie, and why it concerns me:

  • our perceived water scarcity in this region has developed a cluster of researchers and experts on the subject and technologies of water conservation and efficiency.  As the whole world faces greater challenges posed on water supplies by our changing climate, we can combine our local expertise and entrepreneurial inspiration to provide the support they need.  These are just some of our current and future local green jobs.
  • we have a tremendous amount of wasted water in our daily lives, at our workplaces, and through the delivery system itself.  In addressing these losses, we can find new supply within our current and projected capacity.
  • the cost of the project was projected by the Region at $500 Million over a decade ago, and as John notes it could easily climb so much higher.  What else can we do with those hard earned tax dollars?  How much are we willing to spend to avoid local improvements in favour of a far-flung gamble?
  • we’re not getting off the hook that easily regarding the protection of our local sources on the surface and below.  Let’s improve our land use planning to secure the water that’s right here, where we need it, and where it brings our wild spaces to life.
  • check out the comments that GREN (Grand River Environmental Network) made in this Record article by Greg Mercer for this year’s Earth Day.
  • we are most definitely speaking of a pipeline to Erie, not Huron (as many folks may recall was an original option).  The laws that govern our Great Lakes prevent the mass movement of water between the lakes’ watersheds, and Nature provides free of charge a proven way to return water to Erie (the Grand).
  • it’s all summed up rather well (harhar, no pun intended) by the University of Waterloo’s Rob de Loë, as quoted in this Imprint Article last year:

Rob de Loë, professor and research chair in water policy and governance at the University of Waterloo feels that the issue of a pipeline becomes a philosophical question concerning whether or not we respect natural limits. “The pipeline suggests that we are not prepared to change our existing ways of water use,” he said. “I don’t feel that it is necessary right now. Just because we can take water from Lake Erie doesn’t mean we should.”

The Region must act accordingly to create adequate policies for both water conservation and land use planning. “We can go further” said de Loë. “We need to make efficient use of existing supplies before we entertain an alternative supply.”

The current Canadian average for water use is 329 litres of water per person, per day. “This number is very high and speaks to our attitudes as Canadians — that we maintain an endless water supply,” said de Loë.

So, let’s challenge each other to be wise with our water, and apply such incredible sums of tax dollars to projects that move us forward into a more sustainable and resilient future, instead of sliding backwards into old ways of planning that no longer serve us well.

Trackbacks Comments
  • James Howe says:

    Thanks for accepting John’s challenge and providing such a thoughtful response. It’s not something that I’ve given a lot of though to personally but I think that’s what John is trying to change. I think your thoughts seem like a sound direction and that we should be sure that we’ve done everything locally that we can do to maximize how efficiently we use this precious resource. Grey water for example should be incorporated into new buildings to reduce the use of fresh water. A pipeline should only be considered if we can not meet our needs with such measures. But either way, it’s an issue that we need to tackle now (as we are with rapid transit) before we start to experience problems that force us into acting.

    • JasonHammond says:

      Thanks, James for your comment. As you say, a pipeline is a last resort to be considered only after we’ve explored and exhausted other options. We use an awful lot of clean drinking water for uses that would do just as well with rainwater and even grey water, as you note. Cheers!

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