Groups make public an unreleased government report on water crisis in Canada



    OTTAWA, Oct. 6 /CNW Telbec/ - The Council of Canadians and MiningWatch
Canada have made public a report drafted by Environment Canada in December
2007 revealing that the agency had documented crucial information regarding
the looming freshwater crisis in Canada.
    The report, titled "A Federal Perspective on Water Quantity Issues,"
which was obtained through an Access To Information request warns "there may
be heightened risk for jurisdictional conflict for water allocation between
provinces and also between Canada and the United States."
    "The Harper government has repeatedly dismissed the threat of bulk water
exports, while suppressing this report. We are concerned that this
information, which contradicts Harper's claims, was not publicly released
months ago," says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of
Canadians. "Now we know that Environment Canada has pointed to the possibility
of pressure to export water to the United States, given the water crisis in
the American Southwest and the impacts of climate change."
    The Environment Canada report also highlights the myth of abundance of
freshwater in Canada and emphasizes that only 1% of Canada's total water
supply is renewed annually. It points to unsustainable industrial consumption
of water in the energy and agricultural sectors.
    The Council of Canadians and MiningWatch Canada are concerned with the
lack of legislative protection for Canada's freshwater in a time of crisis and
assert that recent policies have exacerbated the problem.
    Both organizations have actively campaigned against "schedule 2" of the
Metal Mining Effluent Regulations under the Fisheries Act, which allows mining
companies to seek permission to use freshwater bodies as tailings
impoundments. So far, four lakes have been approved for destruction by toxic
mine waste by the Harper government and many more are slated to face a similar
fate.
    "The Environment Canada report admits uncertainty about total freshwater
availability in Canada, and also admits that our water resources are under
increasing pressure" says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada "it is
outrageous that Environment Canada is now giving away our precious fresh water
ecosystems as a cheap waste dump for the mining industry. This amounts to an
unsustainable and unconscionable corporate takeover of a precious public
resource."
    The groups are concerned that the recommendations put forward in the
report do not call for a national water policy that protects Canada's
freshwater, bans bulk water exports and recognizes water as a human right.

    The report is available at: www.canadians.org




For further information:

For further information: Dylan Penner, Media Officer, The Council of
Canadians, Cell: (613) 795-8685, dpenner@canadians.org; Catherine Coumans,
Research Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, (613) 569-3439,
catherine@miningwatch.ca

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