International Water Day: Quebec’s ResponsibilityPublished on April 4 2016
International water day was celebrated several days ago, all over the planet. Unfortunately, this day appeared unnoticed here. Yet, Quebec has tremendous responsibility on an international scale, facing matters of water.
Quebec currently owns three percent of the entire world’s fresh water. It is an extraordinary wealth, with an ever increasing value. Yet, we have to fulfill our duty. Since the new millennium, collective efforts have been made to preserve this wealth, but there is still a long way to go; to uphold this natural resource with the vigour and conviction that will secure its existence in the future.
For every Quebecer to have access to clean water is something that we take for granted. It is unfortunately already no longer the case! On March 15th, we reached 113 water boil warnings in Quebec. In total, 43 facilities were affected in 38 municipalities. It is a sad reality, there are already Quebecers that do not have access to clean water. We need to repeat this to ourselves over and over. After all, the year is 2016.
Managing waste water is also a serious problem in Quebec. In 2013, there were over 45,500 reported discharges on untreated waste water. More than ever, we cannot afford any more discharges like the one in Montreal, last November. It is a fact, new facilities for waste water treatment are necessary in Quebec, to process more water during periods of high volume discharges.
Managing our waters also translates to the sound use of the Saint Lawrence River for economic development; it can be used as an effective gateway to the American continent, while ensuring to preserve its marine ecosystems and access to Quebec’s residents. The Saint Lawrence is the most important waterway corridor in North America. It is a great competitive advantage! The government fails to capitalize on this resource with its Maritime Strategy, although François Legault laid out a solid and ambitious plan in the twelfth chapter of his Heading for a Winning Quebec (“Cap sur un Québec gagnant”). This project is nothing like the superficial measures undertaken by the government!
Water is abundant everywhere in Quebec. There are 4,500 rivers in the territory, and half a million lakes. 10% of Quebec’s territory is covered with fresh water bodies; Quebec literally means water. It is our duty to assume the role of water guardians, and in these aims, to instill rigorous preservation standards.
It is the obligation of Quebec’s government to attribute dedicated resources to fresh water management. We have an international responsibility to plan for the future.
We need to acknowledge the task at hand. There is so much to do, and unfortunately, too little political and social awareness today for these matters in Quebec. Coalition Avenir Québec considers the protection of our fresh waters to be a true priority for Quebec.