Troubled Water – Film Review

by Diane Babcock

Documentary film maker, Paul Manly uses the East Coast of Vancouver Island as a case study to examine the threats to public water systems and watersheds. Troubled Water has been well-received everywhere and Paul would like to thank all of you for its success.

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Troubled Water is a good example of what can happen when the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality becomes hazardous to your health. In this case it’s about life’s most precious resource: clean drinking water. Do you know where your drinking water comes from, how much there is, how pure it is and who controls it?

To believe there is an endless supply of drinking water simply because we are surrounded by many lakes and rivers is a naive assumption. The fact is our drinking water comes from specific watersheds, that flow into certain streams, rivers and lakes, as well as underground aquifers.

Starting in the late 1800’s many watersheds in British Columbia were protected, but later in the 1950’s they were re-designated and subsequently ravaged by an insatiable logging industry. And who thinks about the impact of felled trees when they grab a glass of water to rehydrate?

troubled waterIt took nature many millennia to build our forests and wetlands as natural purification systems in our watersheds and it took a few multi-national corporations only a few decades to trash it. Reckless logging causes damage to the riparian zone, which creates turbidity, which makes it more difficult to kill pathogens in the water. Shoddy reforestation using noxious fertilizers from industrial waste introduces carcinogens into the water that are deadly to humans.

That’s not all, as unethical logging practices are just the start of our troubled waters and local communities have too little control over what happens in their watersheds.

Poor planning results in garbage dumps leaking polluted water into residential wells while agricultural and industrial runoff seeps into our aquifers. Furthermore, feeble government legislation is making our community water supplies vulnerable to a new kind of corporate covetousness: it’s looming; it’s multi-national and it wants to ‘own’ the world’s water.

We need to act! Communities need more say and regulatory control over their watersheds, the water act needs to be modernized and water needs to be recognized as a global commons and public trust.

Three things are clear: (1) water needs to be regarded as a human right; (2) our water supply needs to be publicly owned and managed; (3) we need to reject bottled water and choose filtered water.

Let’s make the solution to control our water supply clear.