A large swath of warm water spanning thousands of kilometres from the Bering Sea to Mexico, nicknamed by scientists as “the Blob,” has returned to the West Coast, threatening marine life and fisheries. The Blob was christened in 2014, after a similar natural event that spanned two years devastated the salmon industry, damaged ecosystems and disrupted wildlife like whales, sea lions and crabs. “This is a massive pool… of warm water that’s in the Pacific, that is thousands of kilometres huge,” said senior climatologist for Environment Canada David Phillips on CTV’s Your Morning Tuesday. “This one stretches from the Bering Strait, the Bering Sea, right through the Gulf of Alaska, right through to California, British Columbia, and down to Mexico.”
In Canada's largest city, raw sewage flows into Lake Ontario so often, Toronto tells people they should never swim off the city's beaches for least two days after it rains. Across the country in Mission, B.C., a three-decade-old pipe that carries sewage under the Fraser River to a treatment plant in Abbotsford is so loaded operators can't even slip a camera inside it to look for damage. If that pipe bursts, it will dump 11 million litres of putrid water from area homes and businesses into a critical salmon habitat every day it isn't fixed.
The Columbia River Treaty, an international agreement governing the flow of water between British Columbia and six U.S. states, will be 55 years old this year. It has not aged well. The river springs from the Columbia Icefield in the Rocky Mountains of B.C. and winds 1,930 kilometres through the Northwestern United States – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Wyoming. No other river in North America spills more water into the Pacific Ocean.
Once a month, Susan Chipman drives to a mountainside spring that burbles from the ground in North Vancouver and ﬁlls four 20-litre containers with water to use for drinking and cooking. When full, each container weighs 20 kg. Chipman lives on the top floor of a three-storey walk-up apartment in Vancouver. Her building has running water, of course, supplied and sourced by Metro Vancouver from protected reservoirs even higher up in the North Shore Mountains. But it lacks an elevator. So, she hauls her water jugs up the stairs, one in each hand for balance. “It’s a bit of a chore in the true sense of the word, but it’s worth it, I think.” Chipman says she was hooked from the ﬁrst sip. She tasted it and thought, “OK, this is real water.”
An Indigenous-led group plans to offer to buy a majority stake in the Trans Mountain oil pipeline from the Canadian government this week or next, a deal that could help Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mitigate election-year criticism from environmentalists. The group, called Project Reconciliation, aims to submit the $6.9 billion offer as early as Friday, managing director Stephen Mason told Reuters, and start negotiations with Ottawa two weeks later. Project Reconciliation said the investment will alleviate First Nations poverty, a watershed for Indigenous people who have historically watched Canada’s resources enrich others.
Water in Metro Vancouver might seem like a limitless resource, but it's time for that notion to go down the drain. When it comes to home water use — for drinking, bathing, toilet flushing and more — Metro Vancouver is a pretty thirsty place. Residential water use in Metro Vancouver is 270 litres per capita per day. That's less than the City of Montreal's 286 litres per capita per day, but more than Toronto's 219 per day or the 210 per day used by residents of Calgary. So how do the thirsty residents of Metro Vancouver use all that wet stuff?
Vancouver is known for rain and snow-capped mountains, both of which supply the city's water reservoirs. But as climate change continues to alter weather patterns and reduce rainfall, the supply will dwindle and Uytae Lee is thirsty for action to be taken now. Metro Vancouver is also predicting another one million people will arrive in the region by 2050 and predicts a water "supply gap" by 2030.
The elected leader of a remote First Nation in B.C. which has been under a boil-water order for 18 years says he’s confident his community will eventually find a solution to its drinking water woes — regardless of which party is elected federally this year. Chief Jimmy Lulua’s comments to the Star came a day after Canada’s new Indigenous Services minister boasted Ottawa has made “progress” on the First Nations drinking water crisis to mark World Water Day on Friday.
“Far too often, governments in Canada have demonstrated that they place little value on the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples and the revitalization of their cultures and traditions,” Tara Scurr, business and human rights campaigner with Amnesty International Canada, said in a statement Thursday.
The construction of a modest road into a small community wouldn't usually get a full ground-breaking photo op, complete with gold-coloured shovels and government officials. But for the Semiahmoo First Nation, the road work is just the first step toward new water infrastructure that will end the community's 15-year permanent boil water advisory. "I'm waiting for a day to be able to turn on a tap and drink a glass of water," said Harley Chappell, Semiahmoo's elected chief. "That's the goal."
A handheld ‘tricorder’ that can test for biological contamination in real-time has been the dream of science fiction fans for decades. And UBC Okanagan engineers say the technology is closer to science fact than ever before. Using a small and inexpensive biosensor, researchers in the School of Engineering have developed a novel low-cost technique that quickly and accurately detects cryptosporidium contamination in water samples.
B.C.'s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy is announcing new rules for farmers, intended to protect water sources and "provide more clarity for the agricultural sector." According to the ministry, the rules will protect groundwater with proper manure and nutrient storage, ban direct discharges, allow increased monitoring in high-risk areas, and require record keeping.
Union Bay resident Kathy Calder wants to know why she can't drink her tap water. Her community, in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, has been on a boil water advisory for more than a month. Calder was looking forward to asking some questions at Thursday night's Union Bay Improvement District [UBID] public meeting. However, a letter posted to the district's website Jan. 10 says residents are banned from attending the public meeting, which consists of elected officials.
The protesters in northern British Columbia had camped out for days amid bitter cold and deep snow, manning a checkpoint to prevent construction vehicles from entering the territory of the Wet’suwet’en nation. Their demonstrations, part of a fight against a multibillion-dollar natural gas pipeline, galvanized supporters across the country and at his town hall meeting, the prime minister was forced to content with a barrage of angry questions.
A Vancouver Island MP is hoping the federal government will pass his private member's motion that would create legislation to keep plastic pollution out of Canadian waters. "People are counting on elected officials and their leaders to ... demonstrate their commitment to future generations [by] protecting our environment and ensuring that we don't leave them a pile of garbage for them to clean up," said Gord Johns, MP for Courtenay-Alberni.
The governments of Canada and British Columbia recognize how important investing in modern reliable water services is to building healthy sustainable communities. Today, Marco Mendicino, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, on behalf of the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, and Ronna Rae Leonard, Member of Legislative Assembly for Courtenay–Comox, on behalf of the Honourable Selina Robinson, B.C. Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced more than $62.8 million in federal-provincial funding for a new drinking water treatment plant in the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD).
Gwenn Flowers, a glaciologist, trudges back and forth across a vast glacier in southwest Yukon, pulling a radar device mounted on skis behind her. "We as Canadians are stewards of about a third of the world's mountain glaciers and ice caps, so this is our responsibility," Flowers says. The dramatic changes to the glaciers in the Yukon are an early warning of what climate change could mean for the rest of the planet, researchers say. And Flowers sees lots of reason for concern reflected in the state of the ice.
The vast majority of Kelowna City Council candidates support the further integration of water suppliers. The city recently amalgamated with the South East Kelowna Irrigation District but still only provides water to 50 per cent of residents. Irrigation districts in Glenmore-Ellison, Black Mountain and Rutland serve most of the rest of Kelowna (there are 26 small systems supplying about 1,300 residents). The city wants to bring all water under its umbrella and integrate all the systems.