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The world's most precious resource

Welcome to Vancouver Observer’s water blog.  As we move further into a new decade, no natural resource will be more important than the one many of us simply take for granted:  water.  This blog will keep you updated on the good, the bad and the ugly of water debates. Who is winning and who is losing?  So, let’s begin our blog series with what is at stake with this precious resource.

I want this blog to make you want to comment and to open a dialogue. Challenge me. Disagree with me.  Agree with me and get involved to make something good happen. Together, let's have a spirited discussion on the state of water for Vancouver, for British Colombia, for Canada, and for the world.

Water – we drink it, bathe in it, clean with it, use it to grow our food, recreate in it and admire it in our views.   Without it, we die.  Polluted water can sicken or kill us.  Too much does quite a number as well, as flooding victims will attest. 

Many people say that in the future wars will be fought over it.   In a recent poll, British Columbians said that it was our most important natural resource, even more important than the gas, oil, and mineral resources that make some in the province very wealthy.

But there is a huge gap between the public’s concern over water and the shabby treatment of water in practice.

Our system of water management is broken. Seriously broken.   And it’s not only a problem in Canada, but around the world, in both developing and developed countries.  What we call water management is really the interaction of the laws, pumps and pipes, economic policies, and government bodies that (are supposed to) oversee water. What we have inherited developed over centuries, emerging piece by piece with little long term planning or public involvement.    

One thing we can say for sure is that the water systems we have now are not the ones we would design today if we were starting from scratch. We see problems from this now and these problems will only get worse as the climate changes and water sources are lost to pollution and degradation.

As water becomes scarcer, expect to see more people maneuvering to make a buck off of it.  Others will respond by asserting a “human right to water” and/or a “public trust” over water.  

How water is managed will affect everyone very directly – starting with our health and our economy.   And it will also reveal a great deal about our societies’ values, particularly whether there is provision for the environment and the poor.

One thing is for sure: water’s story in the years ahead will be much like the resource itself – critical, unpredictable, contentious and potentially dangerous.

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