Earthroots, STORM, and Council of Canadians to stage water rally

On Thursday, October 14th, Earthroots, Council of Canadians, and STORM (Save the Oak Ridges Moraine) Coalition are organizing a water rally at Queen’s Park to urge our government to better manage, conserve, and protect our water resources.  Keynote speakers will include renowned activist Maude Barlow.

Despite the fact that we have access to a large proportion of global freshwater resources here in Ontario, we are still beginning to feel the effects of the global water crisis.  While this rally will address larger issues regarding the management and sustainable use of public water resources, we will focus on the Oak Ridges Moraine to highlight the types of issues we are experiencing in Ontario.

Communities on the Oak Ridges Moraine which rely on groundwater are increasingly experiencing water shortages.  Struggles with declining groundwater levels in the Aurora / Newmarket area on the Moraine were highlighted in the 2008 Earthroots/Ecojustice report Ontario’s Water Hazard.  This report revealed that the provincial government is not monitoring the cumulative impacts of permitted water takings by large water users (as required by legislation), and that more generally, permits to large water users seem to be issued in absence of information surrounding the sustainable yield and current existing uses for water sources being drawn upon.  A recent Statistics Canada report underlined that our water resources are over-taxed and mismanaged; sustainable water resources in Southern Canada have declined on average by 8.5% over the last 34 years.

More recently, Earthroots has learned of a large loophole in the landmark Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan.  While this legislation protects Moraine groundwater resources from developments on the Moraine, no protection measures are triggered when a new development seeks to access Moraine sourced waters through a pipeline to service development off the Moraine.  

Unfortunately, our provincial growth plan has made growth allocations in absence of information surrounding the natural carrying capacity of surrounding environments, creating a need for new developments to access water from distant locations.  As unprecedented levels of growth continue in Southern Ontario, the need to pipe water from distant locations is increasing, as evidenced by 3 separate proposals which are currently attempting to access allegedly protected Moraine waters from afar.  With areas of the Moraine already experiencing water shortages, allowing distant developments to be serviced with Moraine waters in the absence of protection leaves the door open for ongoing degradation of Moraine watersheds.

We are calling on people from across the province to come out and raise their voices in support of protecting Ontario's watersheds on Thursday, October 14th.  This is your opportunity to send a message to our government that you want to see Ontario's watersheds protected, and that there is an urgency to be both strict and progressive when it comes to watershed protection and water conservation.

More specifically, we are urging the government to:
•    Create a ‘state of our resource’ report for water in Ontario, which measures sustainable yields of water resources, identifies hot spots where there have been water shortages, identifies areas that have experienced contamination, examines opportunities for water conservation, and guides future decisions regarding new water uses and where growth and development are appropriate.
•    Formalize and encourage better collaboration between the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, so that decision making around growth allocations and planned growth are not made in absence of information regarding the availability of water resources and the carrying capacity of the surrounding natural environment.
•    Place a moratorium on any new permits to take water on the Oak Ridges Moraine, until the Ministry of the Environment has clear information on water availability, the cumulative impacts of existing permits, and the sustainable yields of respective aquifers and geographic areas.
•    Make legislative changes that truly protect groundwater on the Oak Ridges Moraine.  This includes not allowing water diversion projects to pipe Oak Ridges Moraine groundwater to new developments outside of the protected area of the Moraine.
•    Drastically improve transparency and access to information regarding the management and use of public water resources.

The provincial election is just over a year from now; platforms are coming together and promises are being made.  And with the municipal elections approaching as well, the time for our voice to be heard is now.  The rally begins at 12:00 sharp on the front grounds of Queen's Park.  Get involved!  We need you to show your support for water conservation in Ontario.

Contact Josh Garfinkel at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 416-599-0152 x15 for more information.