Alberta’s government needs to make a splash in mixing water consumption with human rights, urged a small group of sign-carrying protesters who marched to the front steps of the legislature yesterday.
Twenty people marched through blowing snow yelling, “water is a right, not for oil” as they crossed the North Saskatchewan River through the High Level Bridge on the UN-designated International World Water Day.
“We cannot continue to use water the way we are using it now,” said Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MLA Rachel Notley, who participated in the rally.
“We have to do better in the way we are managing our water resources.”
The activists unveiled a declaration urging the province to make water consumption a human right since they believe Alberta’s water is “public, protected and priceless.”
The group will also begin collecting signatures for a petition, which they plan to introduce to the government this month.
“We have to make a turnaround with how we use our water,” said Angela Vardy of national activist group the Council of Canadians. “We need to put pressure on this government.”
Notley says Alberta is at “ground zero” when it comes to water issues, especially after oilsands giant Suncor was slapped with 90 charges over dumping poorly treated sewage water into the Athabasca River last year.
The company and three of its contractors are also accused of providing misleading and false information to the province for two years at Suncor’s work camp near Fort McMurray.
Cases like this call for more government controls and systems in place to monitor industrial water consumption, said Notley, instead of making Alberta’s industrial sector monitor themselves.
“We have asked the government a lot about (making water consumption) a human rights issue for a long time, and we will keep pushing,” said Notley, adding Alberta is in danger of losing its precious resource.