water page



Oceans' carbon stores curb climate change: researchers

CO2Scientists said Sunday they have uncovered how vast amounts of carbon are locked away in the depths of the Southern Ocean, a finding that boosts researchers ability to detect the impact of climate change. Among the discoveries are giant whirl-pools and ocean currents 1,000 km wide.

Oceans curb the pace of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. The Southern Ocean is the largest of these ocean carbon sinks, soaking up about 40 per cent of mankind's CO2 absorbed by the seas. MORE

Renewable Energy Water Use May Be Higher Than Conventional Method

water and energyLONDON, March 15 (Reuters) - Countries struggling to plot a greener energy mix face the extra headache of water scarcity from drought, squeezing their options as they look to cut carbon emissions and source locally.

Energy choices are still wide open, from hydrogen to wind power and clean coal, in electricity generation and road transport.

Yet accounting for water, to allow for climate change and concerns that energy demand compounds water scarcity, forces tradeoffs.

For example, policymakers seeking more secure supplies of liquid transport fuels find that both tar sands and biofuels use more water than conventional gasoline - estimates put corn ethanol at 100 or 1,000 times more...

The key concern is that emerging sources of energy worldwide, from tar sands to biofuels and CCS technology, are more water-intensive than traditional fuels, while curbing water use may conflict with cutting carbon. MORE


Prince Edward County Sustainability Group Fundraising Rain Barrel Sale

rainbarrelsRainBarrel.ca is pleased to partner with the CSG (County Sustainability Group) and Pitch-In Prince Edward County in support of the annual CSG Bursary Fund for deserving students from PECI High school graduating to further their education in an Environmental field of study. Also, this is an opportunity for the entire community to pull together in real environmental education and clean up of our County roadways. See www.countysustainability.c a for more information.

For details and to order your barrel, visit http://rainbarrel.ca/csg today!




Climate change, freshwater management, and the role of science

Date Time Location
Tue Mar 13 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM Vivian and David Campbell Conference Facility, Toronto


Scott Vaughan, Federal Environment Commissioner
Gord Miller, Provincial Environment Commissioner
David McLaughlin, President and CEO of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

This event will examine the effects and impacts of climate change on Canada’s water resources. The role that scientific research and monitoring play in understanding the state of freshwater resources and informing policy and program decisions will be explored as well as the important linkages between water use and the natural resource sectors in Canada. MORE


Carbon dioxide breaking down marine ecosystems

Scientists capitalize on 'natural' experiment to chronicle how ecosystems will change as oceans continue to acidify

Carbon dioxide bubbling up from seafloor seeps lowers the pH and species diversity in surrounding areas. Such sites offer a preview of climate-related ecosystem change as oceans acidify.VANCOUVER—If carbon dioxide emissions don’t begin to decline soon, the complex fabric of marine ecosystems will begin fraying—and eventually unravel completely, two new studies conclude.

The diversity of ocean species thins and any survivors’ health declines as the pH of ocean water falls in response to rising carbon dioxide levels, scientists from England and Florida reported February 18 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. What’s more, affected species aren’t restricted to those with shells and calcified support structures—features particularly vulnerable to erosion by corrosive seawater.

Jason Hall-Spencer of the University of Plymouth, England, and his colleagues have been collecting data from marine sites off Italy, Baja California and Papua New Guinea, where high concentrations of carbon dioxide percolate out of the seabed from volcanic activity below. Directly above these CO2 seeps, pH plummets to at least 7.8, a value that is expected to occur widely by 2100 and that is substantially lower than the normal level for the area, 8.1. These sites offer a preview of what may happen to seafloor ecosystems as CO2 levels continue to rise, causing ocean water pH to drop. MORE

Two-Decade Research Decodes Dialogue Between Amazon Rainforest and Water

The Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia arose from the need to understand and explain the rainforest by integrating different scientific fields.

Scientific observation tower in Boa Vista, capital of the Brazilian state of Roraima, which borders with VenezuelaRIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 13 (Tierramérica).- An alteration of the relationship between the Amazon rainforest and the billions of cubic meters of water transported by air from the equatorial Atlantic Ocean to the Andes Mountains could endanger the resilience of a biome that is crucial for the global climate, warns a recently concluded two-decade research project.

The Amazon rainforest is a living being that covers an area of 6.5 million sq km, occupying half the territory of Brazil and portions of another eight countries: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Surinam and Venezuela. It is also home to the planet’s largest reserves of freshwater.

In order to more fully understand this complex ecosystem, scientists from Brazil and around the world created the Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA).

After 20 years of research, the conclusions reached from the data collected warn of numerous potential threats. MORE

"Water maps keep the peace"

Nearly all our fresh water comes from obscure underground deposits—now satellites and radioactive isotopes are telling us how much we have to go round

Water—a resource more precious than oilDEEP beneath the eastern Sahara, the Nubian Sandstone aquifer was in trouble. By the early 2000s, the aquifer—one of the largest and oldest groundwater deposits in the world, which supplies Libya, Egypt, Chad and Sudan—was emptying fast. Egypt was tapping the aquifer to feed its growing desert cities far from the Nile. Libya, whose only other water source is the salty Mediterranean, was drawing water off by way of an underground network of pipes and aqueducts known as the Great Man-Made River, which Libyans describe as the eighth wonder of the world.

Soon the Sahara's oases began to dry up, causing water shortages for nomadic groups and wildlife. But no one could agree on who was to blame. The ancient aquifer system was just too complicated: it was impossible to pinpoint who was taking too much water, or even estimate when it would run out.

Because none of the countries trusted the others to provide an unbiased analysis, they couldn't agree on what steps, if any, to take to protect the aquifer. Mistrust and a lack of cooperation threatened to spiral into something worse.

This conflict exposed an ordinary truth that had somehow been forgotten: most of the world's drinking water is hidden underground, and we don't have a clue what's happening to it. But as global populations grow and climate change kicks in, one thing is certain: we can no longer count on the water to be where we expect to find it. Our groundwater is dissipating into the ocean, being consumed at record rates and being irreversibly contaminated; even as claims to what remains become increasingly contentious. It won't be long before shortages cause widespread droughts and the first water war begins. MORE



action alert

2012 Is the European Year for Water!

boy drinking waterThe European Commission has declared 2012 as the European Year for Water. Several important landmarks will take place this year, with the first being the Alternative World Water Forum (French acronym FAME) taking place in Marseille, France, March 14 through 17.

The objective of the Alternative World Water Forum is to create a concrete alternative to the sixth World Water Forum, which is organized by the World Water Council. This Council is a mouthpiece for transnational companies and the World Bank, and they falsely claim to head the global governance of water. Will you sign a petition urging support for the Alternative World Water Forum?

For several years, different civil society movements have fought side by side for water conservation and citizen management of water. Numerous gatherings have helped solidify the movement to re-appropriate water, a communal resource that belongs to all of humanity and ecosystems.

Help us build a stronger movement to support alternatives to privatization and promote an alternative vision of water management that is based on ecological and democratic values.

Sign our petition to declare the World Water Forum as an illegitimate space for global water governance and support FAME:

Report shows Canada must do more for its oceans

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Editorial and Communications Specialist Ian Hanington.

seashoreIt's been 20 years since Canada's East Coast cod fishery collapsed, and we still have no recovery target or timeline for rebuilding populations. That's just one finding in a damning report from a panel of eminent Royal Society of Canada marine scientists.

Sustaining Canada's Marine Biodiversity notes that Canada has "failed to meet most of our national and international commitments to protect marine biodiversity" and "lags behind other modernized nations in almost every aspect of fisheries management."

For a country surrounded on three sides by oceans, with the longest coastline in the world, that's shameful. Beyond the jobs, recreational opportunities, food, medicines, and habitat that our oceans provide, they also give us life. Half the world's oxygen is produced in the oceans by phytoplankton, which are threatened by rising ocean temperatures and acidification because of global warming. MORE

Melting ice sheets already seen driving sea-level rise

Rising Sea Levels Projected to Have Significant Human Impacts WorldwideIn the Earth's frozen extremes, it appears, the future is now.

For some time, it's been thought in climate science that the glaciers and ice caps crowning mountain ranges from the Andes to the Himalayas are the canaries of the cryosphere. Seen making dramatic retreats in the face of human-caused global warming, melting glaciers have been flagged as the most likely frozen source for the planet's rising seas.

Ultimately, melting of the massive ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland would become more influential than glaciers in pushing up sea levels, of course. But that was some time away.

Or not.

As a satellite study released today by Nature shows, the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets have already begun contributing more to the planet's rising seas than the melting of ice caps and glaciers. It is a trend that overthrows conventional understanding of how melting is partitioned, while reaffirming that sea levels are rising as expected.

Overall, the world's ice-covered regions raised the sea level of the planet's oceans 1.48 millimeters a year from 2003 to 2010. Mountain glaciers and ice caps contributed only 0.41 millimeters a year to this total, with the rest covered by the ice sheets and their peripheral glaciers. Mountain glaciers and ice caps contributed only 0.41 millimeters a year to this total, with the rest covered by the ice sheets and their peripheral glaciers. Notably, even when these peripheral glaciers are included with their mountain peers, the ice sheets still provided the majority of sea-level rise over the past eight years. MORE

China cadmium spill threatens drinking water for millions

hechi damBEIJING Jan 27 (Reuters) - A cancer-causing cadmium discharge from a mining company has polluted a long stretch of two rivers in southern China, and officials warned some 3.7 million people of Liuzhou in the Guangxi region to avoid drinking water from the river, state media reported on Friday.

Pollution of waterways by toxic run-offs from factories and farms is a pressing issue in China, prompting authorities to call for policy tightening, though the problem shows no sign of going away.

Officials opened sluices at four upstream hydrological stations on the Longjiang River, a tributary to the Liujiang that runs through Liuzhou, hoping to dilute the pollutants after the toxic metal cadmium was first detected nearly two weeks ago in Hechi, Xinhua state news agency said. MORE

Cleaner oceans would boost world economy

POLLUTED SEAS: Birds fight for fish in Louisiana while oil leaked from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead in 2010.

Cleaner and better-managed seas and coasts would help boost economic growth and reduce poverty and pollution, a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report said on Wednesday.

The report, produced with several other UN organisations, highlights the huge potential of a marine-based economy some five months before world governments meet to discuss pathways to  more sustainable development at a UN conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Around 40 per cent of the global population lives within 100 kilometres of a coast so the world's marine ecosystems provide essential food, shelter and jobs to millions of people.

But pollution from oil spills, fertilisers, waste, sewage and chemicals, as well as over-fishing, have damaged the health and productivity of the seas. MORE


red accentGreen Investments in the Marine Sector Can Bring a Tide of Economic and Social Benefits

Wasting the Wastewater

waste water dischargeEach day, American municipalities discharge treated wastewater back into natural sources at a rate that would fill an empty Lake Champlain within six months. Growing pressure on water supplies and calls for updating the ancient subterranean piping infrastructure have brought new scrutiny to this step in the treatment process, which is labeled wasteful and unnecessary by a spectrum of voices.

“As the world enters the 21st century, the human community finds itself searching for new paradigms for water supply and management,” says a report released this month by the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Research Council, a division of the National Academy of Sciences. The report investigates the potential for establishing a more resilient national water supply through the direct recycling of municipal wastewater.

“Law and practice have always been that water goes back into a river or into groundwater or the ocean before it returns for further treatment,” said Brent Haddad, founder and director of the Center for Integrated Water Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a member of the committee that wrote the report. The critical question, he said, is “whether that natural stage of treatment is actually an efficient stage of treatment.” MORE

Oceans have acidified more in the last 200 years 'than they did in the previous 21,000 years'

Endangered: Ocean acidity makes it harder for organisms such as coral to construct the protective layers they need to surviveMan-made carbon emissions have acidified the world's oceans far beyond their natural levels, new research suggests.

In some regions, acidity levels rose faster in the last two centuries than it did in the previous 21,000 years, a study from the University of Hawaii has shown.

Ocean acidity makes it harder for organisms such as molluscs and coral to construct the protective layers they need to survive. Measuring changes in ocean acidity is difficult because it varies naturally between seasons, years and regions.

Scientists looked at changes in the saturation level of aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate used to measure ocean acidification. As seawater acidity rises, the saturation level of aragonite falls. Direct observations only date back 30 years, which is not long enough to reveal a meaningful trend. However the new research used simulations of ocean and climate conditions going back 21,000 years to the Last Glacial Maximum and forward in time to the end of the 21st century.MORE

Toxic legacy: Fish pass flame retardants, impaired health to offspring.

fishFish exposed to low levels of common flame retardants called PBDEs for most of their lives pass the chemicals—and more surprisingly, the associated toxic effects—along to their progeny. While parents' health effects were minimal, the exposures reduced hatch rates and altered the thyroid hormone system of the next generation.

Effects were worse if the offspring were also exposed to the same low chemical levels as their parents, a situation that would mimic wild fish in a natural environment. The findings—published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology—broadly suggest that the toxic effects of PBDE exposure may magnify in subsequent generations of wild fish.

The study is important because it shows that flame retardants can trigger thyroid hormone disruption in the next generation whether or not the offspring are exposed to the chemicals. MORE

Low Cost Desalination—Saltworks Breakthrough

saltworks logoCanadian firm, Saltworks Technologies, just came out of stealth in relation to their desalination technology, which they claim reduce the electrical energy required for desalination by over 70%. They report they can produce 1m3 of water with 1kW hour of electrical energy, compared to the 3.7kWhr per m3, which is what is currently achievable using reverse osmosis with the use of energy recovery devices.

So how to they do it? Well its novel. It appears to be a new approach. And novel and new are two things scarce as hens teeth in relation to desalination technologies.

They use solar heat (or waste heat) to evaporate water and concentrate salt water. They are converting solar energy into osmotic energy by doing this. They then use this osmotic energy to desalinate water. They then expose the concentrated salt water to two separate solutions of regular salt water via two different ‘bridges', one which is porous to chloride ions, the second which is porous to sodium ions. MORE


Climate changing outlook for harp seals

Warming oceans and melting sea ice may have a major impact on harp seals, the doe-eyed animals that are the prime target for Canada's annual seal hunt.

harp sealResearchers from Duke University in the US found that sea ice in the seals' breeding grounds has shrunk by about 6% per decade over the last 30 years.

In some recent years, they say, entire years' broods of cubs may have died.

The species is abundant; the Duke team says its future depends on how it can adjust to new climatic conditions.

"Most studies of Arctic sea ice and climate change have focussed on the annual ice minimum in September," said Duke's David Johnston, who led the new study, reported in the journal PLoS One.

"But these animals use seasonal sea ice in February and March, and very few studies have been done on what's happening to that." MORE

BP sues Halliburton for Deepwater Horizon oil spill clean-up costs

Oil group BP lays blame for Deepwater disaster on Halliburton's cement work and seeks unspecified damages

BP has estimated the clean-up cost from the oil spill will be $42bn. MORE

Is Southern California Finally Getting Serious About Its Water Crisis?

drinking waterTo quench the thirst of Southern California's some 20 million people, water must be imported from hundreds of miles away, across a daunting array of deserts, valleys and mountains. For decades, Angelenos have muttered a doomsday refrain: our water supply isn't sustainable, and we are going to have to get smarter about managing it—at some point. The obviousness of the problem, however, instilled a kind of panicked lassitude. The discussion became predictable: alarm would set in during times of drought, as authorities talked of restrictions and plans to boost local water sources. Then rainy years would follow, and L.A. and its surrounding cities would move on to other, supposedly more pressing issues. Through it all, the mentality remained the same: sprinklers outside city buildings and private homes continued to feed large lawns even while it was raining, using water brought from far away.

Now authorities are once again saying the time has come for a change. They say they're going to follow through. Should we believe them?

Maybe. Simply because Southern California may no longer have a choice but to stop its lavish ways. Sometime in January, authorities will again limit the amount of water that the California Aqueduct transports from northern mountains and substitute it with water from reservoirs. That's been happening in the winter and spring seasons ever since environmental protections imposed limits on water that passes through the Sacramento–San Joaquin delta in a bid to protect endangered smelt. The measures are designed to protect the fish from being drawn into large pumps and killed when the State Water Project pumps water at high volumes. Conservation groups and fishing groups have championed the measures ever since a judge put them in place four years ago. But the protections are a huge point of contention for local water agencies and farmers who have lost their water supply. Both have launched a series of legal challenges that haven't prevailed. "We've been in court nonstop since 2006 on these biological opinions—with either environmental groups suing, saying they're not strict enough, or us suing, saying they're too strict," says Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. MORE

Groundwater dropping globally

Satellites find supply falling mostly due to agriculture

groundwater map USA

SAN FRANCISCO—Groundwater levels have dropped in many places across the globe over the past nine years, a pair of gravity-monitoring satellites finds. This trend raises concerns that farmers are pumping too much water out of the ground in dry regions.

Water has been disappearing beneath southern Argentina, western Australia and stretches of the United States. The decline is especially pronounced in parts of California, India, the Middle East and China, where expanding agriculture has increased water demand.

“Groundwater is being depleted at a rapid clip in virtually of all of the major aquifers in the world's arid and semiarid regions,” says Jay Famiglietti, a hydrologist at the University of California Center for Hydrologic Modeling in Irvine, whose team presented the new trends December 6 at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.MORE

Chinese Government Says it Will Control Rainfall to Generate 10 Percent More Precipitation by 2015

chinese in raincoatsChina‘s boom in industry and population has put a strain on its natural resources—not to mention the health of the environment—over the past few decades. In order to alleviate the stress of growing crops for an ever-increasing population, the government is intervening with nature by rolling out four regional programs to artificially increase precipitation across the country by 10 percent before 2015. The program, which was included in the newly released 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), is anticipated to bring in an additional 230 billion cubic meters of precipitation per year. This is on top of the 50 billion China already artificially creates annually in the northeastern province of Jilin.

Each year, an average of 3 trillion cubic meters of water passes over China in clouds, and only 20 percent of it falls to the ground, according to the China Meteorological Administration. And as extreme weather events such as drought and flooding afflict regions, damaging crops, protecting and providing adequate water for the nation's farming areas have become of the utmost importance. Moreover, China has set another plan to boost its annual grain yield to 550 million tons by 2020 (though that target was exceeded this year with a record 571 million tons) and this rainmaking initiative will ensure that this marker is kept.

“Because clouds are boundless, weather control is boundless. The five regional weather control programs will coordinate the ground resources, such as the cloud seeding rockets and planes, across provinces to increase potential rain or snow,” said Zheng Jiangping, deputy director of the CMA's department of emergency response, disaster mitigation and public services emergency management told China Daily, a state-run newspaper.MORE

More Radioactive Water Leaks at Japanese Plant

radioactive seawater plume from Fukashima in the Pacific Ocean

TOKYO—At least 45 tons of highly radioactive water have leaked from a purification facility at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, and some of it may have reached the Pacific Ocean, the plant's operator said Sunday.

Nearly nine months after Fukushima Daiichi was ravaged by an earthquake and tsunami, the plant continues to pose a major environmental threat. Before the latest leak, the Fukushima accident had been responsible for the largest single release of radioactivity into the ocean, threatening wildlife and fisheries in the region, experts have said.

The new radioactive water leak called into question the progress that the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, appeared to have made in bringing its reactors under control. The company, known as Tepco, has said that it hopes to bring the plant to a stable state known as a cold shutdown by the end of the year. MORE

Freshwater Use by U.S. Power Plants: Electricity's Thirst for a Precious Resource

A Report of the Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative

freshwater us by U.S. power plantsTake the average amount of water flowing over Niagara Falls in a minute. Now triple it. That's almost how much water power plants in the United States take in for cooling each minute, on average.

In 2005, the nation's thermoelectric power plants—which boil water to create steam, which in turn drives turbines to produce electricity—withdrew as much water as farms did, and more than four times as much as all U.S. residences.

It requires more water, on average, to generate the electricity that lights our rooms, powers our computers and TVs, and runs our household appliances, than the total amount of water we use in our homes for everyday tasks—washing dishes and clothes, showering, flushing toilets, and watering lawns and gardens.

Power plants across the country contribute to water stress.This tremendous volume of water has to come from somewhere. Across the country, water demand from power plants is combining with pressure from growing populations and other needs, and is straining our water resources—especially during droughts and heat waves. MORE


red accentFreshwater Use by U.S. Power Plants: Executive Summary

Waterproof 3 - Canada's Drinking Water

waterproof 3: Canada's water report cardMore than a decade after deadly gaps in drinking water management killed seven people in Walkerton, Ont., Ecojustice has released Waterproof 3, our third drinking water report card, which concludes that the federal government is still failing to ensure all Canadians have reliable access to safe, clean water.

The report gives the federal government another ‘F' for lagging in almost every aspect of water protection for which it is responsible. Of greatest concern is the government's reluctance to create rigorous national drinking water standards that protect all Canadians.

Waterproof 3 evaluates water policies, programs and legislation across the country and assigns the provincial, territorial and federal governments, a grade  based on how well they're protecting drinking water.

While the federal government received an ‘F', provinces like Ontario (A) and Nova Scotia (A-) have been identified as leaders when it comes to drinking water protection—thanks in large part to strong treatment, testing and source water protection programs. In contrast, Alberta (C-) slipped in the rankings because of static treatment standards and poor source water protection efforts. DOWNLOAD the PDF

Shrinking mussel beds dramatically reduce B.C.'s marine biodiversity, says study

Intertidal habitats in the Strait of Juan de Fuca that separates Vancouver Island from the B.C. mainland that once teemed with mussels, barnacles and hundreds of other species have shrunk by as much as 51 per cent due to rising water temperatures, according to a study by University of B.C. zoologist Chris Harley.Intertidal habitats in the Strait of Juan de Fuca that separates Vancouver Island from the B.C. mainland that once teemed with mussels, barnacles and hundreds of other species have shrunk by as much as 51 per cent due to rising water temperatures, according to a study by University of B.C. zoologist Chris Harley.

As recently as 50 years ago, mussels and barnacles thrived in thick bands across beaches on Vancouver Island, the Olympic Peninsula and the San Juan Islands, providing habitat for up to 300 other species of sea creatures.

Beaches on the relatively cool west coast of Vancouver Island are much as they were five decades ago, but those in the warmer waters farther up the strait are in steep decline, according to the article published this week in the journal Science.

The shrunken mussel beds are now home to as few as 10 other species, he said. MORE

video How to Install a DIY Rainwater-Flushing Toilet System

toiletFrom safe and legal greywater recycling to urban humanure toilets, we've featured plenty of DIY plumbing aimed at more efficient water use.

But this DIY rainwater flushing toilet from the UK is about as low-tech and effective as it gets. Using an upstairs balcony to house a barrel cistern; a simple gauze filter system; some charcoal for purification, and then some gravity-fed piping to a downstairs toilet cistern, the system automatically feeds the toilet cistern with rainwater whenever it's available. When rainwater runs out, the homeowners simply switch back to the mains water.

Watch the video video HERE

Israeli firm unveils eco-friendly desalination unit

(Reuters)—Israel's IDE Technologies has unveiled a transportable desalination system that uses traditional reverse osmosis technology but without the need for chemicals, allowing cheaper and more eco-friendly production of drinking water.

The unit, the first of its kind, is housed in a standard, 12-meter-long skid-mounted container and can produce between 500 and 10,000 cubic meters of water per day, depending on the water type, the company said.

That would be enough for a hotel or small village in remote areas or disaster sites that lost water supplies, said Fredi Lokiec, IDE's executive vice president for special projects.

"We're bringing to the industry a facility that doesn't use any type of chemicals. Completely green and environmentally friendly," he said. MORE


Warming oceans signal fishery changes, study says

Study co-authored by UBC scientists says Canada must adapt

warming oceanWarming temperatures in the world's oceans will cause major changes for the fishing industry, according to a study published Sunday involving a University of British Columbia researcher.

The study—a collaboration among economists, biologists and climate-change scientists co-authored by UBC's Rashid Sumaila and published in the journal Nature—says there are already signs some fish species are leaving their usual surroundings for cooler waters.

While the scientists' perspectives may conflict, Sumaila told CBC News, they all agreed on one thing: "Climate change is only going to complicate our problems. There is overfishing. It's fundamental that we deal with that."

The study he co-authored found some species are starting to leave tropical areas where signs of a warming ocean are most acute. Modelling shows temperate waters like those on Canada's coasts will experience an influx of those fish, while species currently here move farther north to the even colder waters of the Arctic.MORE

Energy industry set to cut funding for oil sands environmental watchdog

cuts to fundingThe oil sands industry is embroiled in a dispute over its plans to trim funding to an environmental advisory and monitoring group, at a time when companies are moving aggressively to persuade the public they care about being green...

On the strength of recommendations made in part by industry members, the association submitted a $9-million budget request for next year. Several weeks ago, the developers group said it was prepared to fund just over $5-million. The group's executive director said he plans to meet with CEMA Monday.

CEMA's budget is made up of work plans that come, in part, from industry representatives, who co-chair each of the association's working groups. This year, they recommended new work on how much groundwater industry can reasonably extract, an important issue given that water is such a critical ingredient for the oil sands. CEMA also wants to do more on health issues, such as assessing how the pungent odour of crude extraction affects humans. MORE

Canada may have to charge more for water

Water intake by oil and gas will rise 96 per cent, led by oilsands use, the report says. This is the Syncrude plant and tailings pond near Fort McMurray, Alta. Todd Korol/ReutersConserving water in Canada will require new collaborative government measures as consumption swells by as much as 96 per cent in some industries—which means the country may have to charge farms and oilsands more for its use, a new report says.

While there are signs of improvement in water-use efficiency in most economic sectors—and that is expected to hold steady to 2030—there are some "regional challenges," especially in areas where agriculture, and oil and gas are involved, says the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

Between 2005 and 2030, water intake by agriculture is forecast to increase by 54 per cent, while intake by oil and gas is expected to rise 96 per cent, led by oilsands use. MORE


red accentCanada should slap a price on industrial water usage: Report


TORONTO: 2012 Budget - Waste & Water rates

Mayor Ford: program cuts and weakening of standardsRate-Supported Budgets for Waste and Water were presented and approved by the Budget Committee on November 10th. Council will have the final vote on November 29th. 

Unfortunately, the budgets include program cuts and weakening of standards that will harm the environment, including cutting Community Environment Days and subsidizing water rates for industrial polluters. 

Unfortunately, there are delays and lack of funding for many important capital projects for our water infrastructure. Of greatest concern to TEA is that despite a water rate increase for residents (crucial to maintain and expand needed infrastructure), the City is proposing to subsidize water rates for industrial polluters.  

Industrial water users currently have the option to get discounted water rates (called the Block 2 rate) if they create water efficiency plans and don't break the City's important water pollution by-laws. The new policy would cost the city at least $1.6 million annually in lost revenues by giving the discount to all industries, whether they've been found to violate the pollution by-laws or not.

It will likely mean higher costs to the city to monitor and treat pollution, and removing these eligibility requirements will take away an important financial incentive for companies to reduce pollution and water consumption. MORE


Foreign hackers targeted U.S. water plant in apparent malicious cyber attack, expert says

hackerForeign hackers caused a pump at an Illinois water plant to fail last week, according to a preliminary state report. Experts said the cyber-attack, if confirmed, would be the first known to have damaged one of the systems that supply Americans with water, electricity and other essentials of modern life.

Companies and government agencies that rely on the Internet have for years been routine targets of hackers, but most incidents have resulted from attempts to steal information or interrupt the functioning of Web sites. The incident in Springfield, Ill., would mark a departure because it apparently caused physical destruction.

Federal officials confirmed that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were investigating damage to the water plant but cautioned against concluding that it was necessarily a cyber-attack before all the facts could be learned. “At this time there is no credible corroborated data that indicates a risk to critical infrastructure entities or a threat to public safety,” said DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard. MORE

Even the Cleanest Wastewater Contributes to More 'Super Bacteria', Study Finds

cartoon bugA new University of Minnesota study reveals that treated municipal wastewater -- even wastewater treated by the highest-quality treatment technology -- can result in significant quantities of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, often referred to as "superbacteria," in surface waters.

The study also suggests that standard wastewater treatment technologies probably release far greater quantities of antibiotic-resistant genes used by bacteria, but this likely goes unnoticed because background levels of bacteria are normally much higher than in the water studied in this research.

The new study is led by civil engineering associate professor Timothy LaPara in the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities College of Science and Engineering. The study is published in the most recent issue of Environmental Science and Technology, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

Antibiotics are used to treat numerous bacterial infections, but the ever-increasing presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has raised substantial concern about the future effectiveness of antibiotics. In response, there has been increasing focus on environmental reservoirs of antibiotic resistance over the past several years. Antibiotic use in agriculture has been heavily scrutinized, while the role of treated municipal wastewater has received little attention as a reservoir of resistance. MORE

National drinking water protections range from excellent to abysmal

water inforgraphicToday Ecojustice released Waterproof 3, our third national drinking water report card. In it, we give the provincial, territorial and federal governments a grade on how well they're protecting the country's drinking water. Our findings reveal that Canadians are subject to a patchwork of drinking water standards and programs that range from excellent (Ontario) to abysmal (federal government). This means that how safe your water is depends on where you live.

Waterproof 3 gives the federal government an ‘F' for lagging in almost every aspect of water protection for which it is responsible. Of greatest concern is the government's reluctance to create rigorous national drinking water standards that protect all Canadians.

Provinces like Ontario (A) and Nova Scotia (A-), however, have been identified as leaders when it comes to drinking water protection—thanks in large part to strong treatment, testing and source water protection programs. In contrast, Alberta (C-) slipped in the rankings because of static treatment standards and poor source water protection efforts. MORE


red accentOntario only province to get an ‘A' for water protection efforts

action alert Municipal governments need a say on CETA: Pass a CETA resolution in your community today

red accentContact Prince Edward County Councillors HERE Ask them to join municipalities across Canada who are passing resolutions and raising concerns about CETA.

red accentEmail Prime Minister Stephen Harper and ask him to immediately halt negotiations on this deal.

Canada's Secret Trade Deal CETA

Time is running out to stop CETA—the Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement being negotiated between Canada and the European Union. Negotiations are being held in Ottawa this week and this could be the final time both parties sit down at the table.

Canadian municipalities have been on the outside of Canada-European Union free trade negotiations for too long. In some provinces, local councillors are kept only partly informed about the status of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). In others, local decision makers know almost nothing of the deal or its proposed procurement chapter, which will have a big impact on how local communities make important economic decisions.

This lack of consultation with our most important level of government is unacceptable, especially as the CETA negotiations enter a critical bargaining stage. On July 14, at an 8th round of CETA negotiations in Brussels, provincial and territorial governments made what they called a highly "ambitious" procurement offer to the EU which likely includes municipal governments. They did this even as many municipal councils are calling for more information and to be excluded from CETA entirely. The federal government will be meeting with provinces and territories three times before October to conclude the procurement chapter. Time is running short for municipal input.

Municipalities across Canada are raising concerns about CETA and the implications for public water, local procurement and democracy. MORE

White House Could Cast Decisive Vote to Permit 20,000 Fracking Wells in Delaware River Basin

This week the Delaware River Basin Commission released draft regulations to allow for the natural gas drilling technique hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, in the river's watershed, which provides water to 15.6 million people in New York City, Philadelphia and New Jersey.

The proposed plan would allow for some 20,000 gas wells to be developed in the watershed.

A vote on the regulations is set for Nov. 21 and could prompt a battle between activists and the White House, which holds a seat on the commission and may cast the deciding vote. We speak with Josh Fox, whose documentary about fracking, "Gasland," was nominated for an Academy Award, and play an excerpt of his new video about the possible impacts natural gas fracking could have in the Delaware River Basin.

red accentWatch The Democracy Now interview HERE

red accentSold Down The River

Could a new era of fracking, dredging and polluting sink the Delaware River for good?

Can the Oceans Continue to Feed Us?

fish catchWASHINGTON—Far out on the Pacific Ocean, the world's industrial fishing fleets pursue one of the last huge wild hunts—for the tuna eaten by millions of people around the world.

Yet tuna still aren't fished sustainably, something that conservationists and big U.S. tuna companies are trying to fix. This illustrates one part of the pressure on the world's oceans to feed a growing global population, now 7 billion. It also underscores the difficulties people have in balancing what they take against what must be left in order to have enough supplies of healthy wild fish.

"It's serious. On a global basis, we've pretty much found all the fish we're going to find," said Mike Hirshfield, chief scientist at the advocacy group Oceana. "There's not a lot of hidden fish out there. And we're still heading in the wrong direction, taken as a whole."

Some 32 percent of the world's fish are overfished, up from 10 percent in the 1970s and 25 percent in the early 1990s, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. MORE

Antarctic king crabs warming up to invade continental shelf, threatening unique marine community

The adult king crabs can grow up to one meter long (ruler: 30 cm) and may weigh 500 grams (1.1 pounds).Dangerous and disruptive king crabs lurk in a deep pocket of the Antarctic continental shelf, clamoring to escape their cold-water prison to reach and permanently change the shallower, prehistoric paradise above.

A team led by University of Hawaii oceanographer Craig Smith spotted the meter-long monsters in February 2010. It was the first time researchers have seen king crabs on the continental shelf—a vast undersea platform that surrounds the Antarctic continent. The crabs are disrupting the environment, feasting on myriads of chilled, undersea animals that had thrived without natural predators for millions of years. MORE

ICCAT: Time to Tackle What's Really in the Net

tunaWhat's in a name? If you're talking about ICCAT—the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas—so much is contained in that one acronym. This body manages all the tuna and tuna-like species found in the vast ocean waters between the United States and Europe and between South America and Africa. It's not just a faceless acronym, either. ICCAT comprises 48 governments, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, the European Union, Japan, Turkey and North African countries. Any country that regularly fishes for ICCAT-managed species in the Atlantic Ocean or the Mediterranean Sea is a member.

Why are we talking about ICCAT now? Well, its 22nd annual meeting takes place this month in Istanbul. If you appreciate tuna (or sharks and swordfish) and the important role they play as apex predators in the oceans, you need to know about this meeting. MORE

action alert

All Canadians Deserve Clean Drinking Water!

dripping tapMore than 1,880 first nations homes in Canada do not have access to running water, with forty percent of these located in Northern Manitoba.

Despite promises by regional and federal leaders, the Globe and Mail reports that "the actual work to connect the communities to the water supplies has not begun." In fact, plumbing material and equipment has not even been ordered, and with winter looming, community leaders fear that water will not arrive until 2013.

Tell John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs (Canada) and Eric Robinson, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs (Manitoba) that all Canadians deserve clean drinking water! MORE


Colombia: Wayuu Gold, Fighting for Access to Fresh Water

red accentFracking for shale gas in BC

In northeastern BC, gas companies are racing to extract natural gas from deeply buried shale formations, using a process called "fracking. It could have major effects on water supplies.MORE

Sharks want to dance to a different tuna

action alertMuch of the tuna you see on supermarket shelves comes from destructive fisheries that take a huge toll on other species, including sharks, turtles and even seabirds.

Help us pressure Canada's largest tuna brand, Clover Leaf, to change its ways: Watch Greenpeace's spoof ad and send a letter to Clover Leaf CEO Chris Lischewski demanding the company change its tuna! TAKE ACTION HERE


action alertECOHOLIC: Beyond shark fin soup, where else are shark products hiding?

red accentToronto council bans sale, consumption of shark fins


New Waterless Fracking Method Avoids Pollution Problems, But Drillers Slow to Embrace It

Little-noticed drilling technique uses propane gel, not water, to release natural gas. Higher cost, lack of data and industry habit stand in the way.

gasfracALBANY, N.Y—In the debate over hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, two facts are beyond dispute: Huge amounts of water are used to break up gas-bearing rock deep underground and huge amounts of polluted water are returned to the surface after the process is complete.

Tainted with chemicals, salts and even mild radioactivity, such water, when mishandled, has damaged the environment and threatened drinking water, helping fuel a heated debate in New York and other states over whether gas drilling is worth its risk to clean drinking water, rivers and streams.

Now, an emerging technology developed in Canada and just making its way to the U.S. does away with the need for water. Instead, it relies on a thick gel made from propane, a widely-available gas used by anyone who has fired up a backyard barbecue grill.

Called liquefied propane gas (LPG) fracturing, or simply "gas fracking," the waterless method was developed by a small energy company, GasFrac, based in Calgary, Alberta. MORE


The International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) was established by scientists with the aim of saving the Earth and all life on it. They met at the University of Oxford earlier this year and concluded that the world's ocean is at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history.

earth system diagramEvery sea and ocean on our planet is part of one, global Ocean. This Ocean is like the earth's circulatory system: it performs numerous vital functions which make the planet habitable and we cannot survive without it. Currently, the Ocean is in a critical state of health. If it continues to decline, it will reach a point where it can no longer function effectively and our planet will be unable to sustain the ecosystems that support humankind .The Ocean has already absorbed more than 80% of the heat added to the climate system and around 33% of the carbon dioxide emitted by humans. Scientists believe that there is still time to prevent irreversible, catastrophic changes to our marine ecosystems but that this requires drastic action within a decade. MORE


Take the I AM Challenge to Fight Climate Change and Sea Level Rise

I amAmong other challenges, global warming is causing our sea levels to rise and putting coastal cities -- and billions of people -- at risk across the globe. Global Green is working hard to protect these cities and other communities affected by climate change. Scientists warn that the biggest danger from global warming is raising sea level, through a combination of increased water from glacier melting and warmer water temperatures.

  • Sea level has risen four to 10 inches this past century and is projected to rise up to three feet by 2100.
  • For every foot of sea level rise, we can expect about 100 feet of coastal flooding.
  • Nearly 25% of the world's population lives within 62 miles (100 kilometers) of a shoreline, and this figure is likely to increase to 50% over the next 25 years as people flock to coastal cities.
  • Thirteen of the world's 20 largest cities are now located on a coast.

Make a plea to help stop climate change, by demanding that our leaders invest in green technologies and green jobs now. You can also help us make a difference and guarantee a healthier future. MORE


Why is the Harper government letting gas companies frack with our water?

Documents Reveal Industry and Gov't Collude on Shale Gas

Fracking is a process used to extract shale gas using vertical and horizontal drilling. Sand, water and chemicals are release at high pressure to fracture shale where natural gas is trapped. Hydraulic fracturing, the practice of blasting deep rock formations with one to five million gallons of water mixed with tonnes of sand and chemicals, has sparked controversy throughout the continent....

The threat posed by hydraulic fracturing and unconventional oil and gas drilling to western groundwater is no idle matter. More than two million western Canadians use groundwater as their drinking source.

In fact nearly half of the population of Saskatchewan and one third of the citizens of Alberta and British Columbia rely on groundwater. MORE

How Much Water Per Pound?

cow silhouetteThe National Geographic asks, "How much water does it take to put beef, pork, wheat, and more on your plate?" Explore our water footprint interactive and find out. HERE

See also National Geographics special section on water HERE

action alert


red dotPetition to Stop Fracking in Nova Scotia HERE
red dotA Petition to Ban Shale Gas Exploration and Production in New Brunswick HERE

Take Back the Tap!

The Story of Bottled Water tells the story of manufactured demand—how you get Americans to buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week when it already flows from the tap. Over five minutes, the film explores the bottled water industrys attacks on tap water and its use of seductive, environmental-themed advertising to cover up the mountains of plastic waste it produces. The film concludes with a call to take back the tap, not only by making a personal commitment to avoid bottled water, but by supporting investments in clean, available tap water for all. Watch the video below and then click here to discover the opportunities for action!


Our Great Lakes Commons: A People's Plan to Protect the Great Lakes Forever

The Great Lakes of North America form the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world, holding more than 20 per cent of the world's surface freshwater and 95 per cent of North America's. Add to this the groundwater underlying and feeding the Great Lakes or its tributary streams and lakes, and the percentage is closer to 25 and 97 per cent respectively....The Great Lakes provide life and livelihood to more than 40 million people and are the economic centre at the heart of the continent. They are, however, under serious threat from a wide variety of demands and sources. Download the Report

Like Victoria, Can Prince Edward County Become a Blue Community?

Victoria, B.B. is now a Blue Community. Well, what about Prince Edward County?

blue communities project logoA municipality can become a Blue Community by: 1) recognizing water as a human right; 2) promoting publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services; and 3) banning the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events. Burnaby has now adopted resolutions affirming these three criteria.

An 18-page Blue Communities Project guidebook that can assist you in making Prince Edward County a blue community, can be read at http://canadians.org/bluecommunities.

The following organizations are actively involved in water issues:

Important resources:

Water Issues mentioned in articles by County Sustainability Group members

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