By Lillianne Cadieux-Shaw
Last week marked Canada’s first national Water Week, a celebration of one of Earth’s most precious resources. It culminated with World Water Day on March 22.
In August, premiers from nearly every Canadian province and territory signed a Water Charter that emphasized “the collective obligation of Canadians and their governments to be responsible water stewards.”
This year’s theme of Healthy Rivers, Living Lakes was chosen to “start on a positive note,” says Tony Maas, freshwater director of World Wildlife Fund Canada, one of the week’s sponsors. Instead of looking at the problems of excess water consumption in Canada, Maas says the importance should be on the “natural wonders of water in Canada.”
Various events were held in Halifax.
On March 15, the Nova Scotia Community College and Youth Experiences in Sciences created a Café Scientifique to “generate discussion around water quality,” according to event manager Sarah Galley. The café was geared toward local high schools and community colleges.
Well-Tapped, held last Friday and Saturday at the Lower Deck pub, aimed to raise awareness about water sustainability, with the help of local bands. “It’s very much a party atmosphere,” manager Elizabeth Kennedy said.
Maas says the national celebrations have been successful in raising awareness but asks, “How do we build from this successful inaugural year and move from awareness to activism?”
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James Hutt, a fourth-year Dalhousie student majoring in International Development, might have the answer.
Hutt is participating in a month-long challenge. Throughout March, Hutt is limiting his water use, including cooking, showering and flushing the toilet, to just 25 litres a day.
Working with other students in Nova Scotia, Hutt celebrated World Water Day with pledge sheets, live music and signs.
Participants in the 25-litre challenge have found several ways of limiting their water use, including washing clothes by hand, taking sponge baths and leaving the tap off when washing dishes.
“All of us taking the challenge have certainly learned the value of water, but it really makes other people think about their own use too,” Hutt said in an email. “Time and time again I have found that the best way to create change is by leading by example.”
Participants in the 25-litre challenge demonstrate their techniques for conserving water.
(Video by Lillianne Cadieux-Shaw, assisted by Leena Ali)