Canadians care on World Water Day

Canadians care on World Water Day

Susan Howatt says World Water Day feels like her birthday. "It's fun," says the Council of Canadians' national water campaigner. "It's my favourite time of year."

Howatt delivered over 45,000 petitions to Environment Minister John Baird's office in Ottawa on March 21. The petitions from citizens across the country demand a national water policy to protect the resource from privatization, bulk water exports and diversions.

"It's been an ongoing campaign, and we had just an enormous amount of petitions," says Howatt. "I believe this is indicative that Canadians really care."

Though Baird was in a caucus meeting when Howatt and her colleagues took the 10 boxes of petitions to his office, they were assured he would receive them at the Hill. Howatt says the petitions are part of a larger campaign across the country, where local members from citizen-based chapters will host World Water Day events.

The Council is partnering with KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) for World Water Day events this week. The groups share the belief that water is a human right and must be protected. There are a variety of ways communities are marking the day, such as film screenings and water walks.

The idea of World Water Day originates from the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro. The day was first observed in 1993, and since is an annual event on March 22.

According to the UN-Water website, Coping with Water Scarcity is this year's World Water Day theme. The goal is to globally promote awareness and actively participate in the issues surrounding water shortages.

There are many ways residents can help protect water sources. Citizens can talk to their local government about privatization concerns. Personal water conservation techniques make a difference. For example, homeowners should ensure old wells are properly sealed to protect from pollution.

Many organizations and conservation authorities suggest ways to assist in water protection. The United Church of Canada has asked its members to stop buying bottled water. Howatt says simple steps like buying local produce goes a long way in preserving water.

"There's lots of things we can do everyday," says Howatt. "I'm very happy to see the concern for the environment is getting the attention it deserves."