Water, water, everywhere…

Elling Lien on the complicated business of dihydrogen monoxide.

It’s about supply and demand:

1. Drinkable water is essential for human life.

2. Because of a number of factors, drinkable water is running out.

The UN says by the year 2025 two thirds of the world’s population will be without safe drinking water.

“Yes, there is a fixed amount of water on Earth. Yes, it is still here somewhere. But we humans have depleted, polluted, and diverted it to such an extent that we can now actually say the planet is running out of accessible, clean water. Fast.” says activist Maude Barlow in her book Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water.

She’s on a tour to promote the book right now, and is set to speak here at The Lantern on Barnes Road on November 9.

Newfoundland and Labrador has drawn the attention of water rights organizations a number of times over the past decade. In the late 90s, a Gander businessman named Gerry White came up with a plan to skim water from Gisborne Lake, put it in converted oil tankers, and ship it to the US to sell.

On a quick glance it didn’t seem like such a bad idea at the time. The town of Grand Le Pierre had a resource it could sell for real money, creating jobs, and ensuring a living close to home. What was the big deal? Why were organizations like the World Wildlife Fund and the Sierra Club crying foul?

The idea was struck down mainly because it would set a bad trade example.

Under NAFTA, water is considered a tradable good, and if one area of the country were to start selling its water, the rest would legally have to as well. (Like in the Lays chips commercial.)

Two years later, in 2001, it came alive again—Premier Roger Grimes even offered free university tuition to all students, paid for by revenue from the sale of the water.

“Trying to stop people from selling water is like telling Saudi Arabia not to sell oil,” Gerry White told Time magazine in 2001.

What to do? What to do?

Join the discussion at the Lantern on November 9, 7pm.