Imagine you are an expecting mother and have a miscarriage, the reason doctors give for is drinking good old tap water. what will you do? Canadian water pollution is often overlooked when other means of pollution are discussed, but it is as serious as any other means of pollution, drinking polluted water can result in a myriad of diseases such as certain cancers, miscarriage, and certain parasites such as Giardia, Cryptosporidium or E.coli (2000 Walkerton outbreak).We will talk about the pollution caused by the oil sands, plastic and sewage.
The oil sands of Alberta are set to cause a growing level of acid rains which is leading to an increase in contamination of water in the region. The lakes and rivers of Canada will become further acidified. Which will decrease the levels of calcium at water surface. This lower concentration is already having a really adverse effect on plant life, for example the Daphnia species-an important food source for aquatic species and marine life is changing its composition.
Researchers from Alberta University found levels of metals like arsenic, lead and mercury to be substantially higher than national guidelines in water downstream from the oil sites. The pollution can potentially result in harmful health effects for fish and other wildlife. In their findings they said it was ‘contrary to claims made by industry and government’ who claimed that ‘pollutants are from natural sources and not from the expanding production of oil from tar sands.’ This shows the commitment of our government to fix the problem.
Oil production sites can also cause substantial damage by human error and overflow. A noticeable example is the 2007 case relating to the Athabasca River. Due to human error, 9.8 million liters of oil sands waste water was spilled into the river causing adversarial effects for wildlife and people in the area. It was found that the river’s waters had higher concentrations of pollutants as a result of overflow. It was reported recently that there were significant increases in fish deformities as well as a surge in cancer rates in the Natives living downstream from the Athabasca River.
Secondly we have the plastics. On average, the amount of micro plastics or plastic particles consumed by a human being is up to 121000 plastic particles. With the country’s recycling system being broken, only nine percent of 3.2million tones of plastic waste generated every year is recycled. The rest almost 2.8 million tones finds its way to landfills, rivers , streams or the sea effectively polluting these water sources.
Lastly we have sewage which is one of the main perpetrators involved in polluting drinkable water. According to Eco justice an advocacy group, the raw sewage dumping in Canada is approximately 200 billion litres per year. Canadian municipalities continue to dump their sewage in the water and pollute it. This can be seen In Halifax, Nova Scotia where human waste is discarded directly into the Halifax harbour. British Columbia’s Victoria also follows a similar practice by dumping their untreated waste into the ocean.
An example of water pollution resulting from sewage can be shown by looking at Ottawa’s 2004 190 million liter raw sewage spill into the Ottawa River. Likewise, Winnipeg, released ‘partially treated sewage water into the Red River for seven weeks’ during the year 2011.
The government has finally decided to take notice of such problems as it is evident with the Winnipeg incident where the city was charged with a fine for their pollution. The government is also working on plans to improve the recycling system and new laws are being made to control the pollution from the oil sands. The government isn’t the only one, some private organizations are also working to fight against pollution and we as citizens are responsible to help them make our country a better place for us and our future generations to live in.