Infrastructure decisions are as important as water

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

-W. H. Auden We have dubbed this “The Water Issue.” It’s a play on words, in a way, because water is such an issue.

The critical role water plays in our environment and our individual lives is underscored at every turn in the news.

Take the Mount Polley debacle created in tandem by what looks really bad planning and heavy regional rains.

I’m not against industry, and I’m not against mining. But I would have to say I’m an extreme skeptic when it comes to earthen dams in a climate that experiences to torrential rains we’ve had historically -and as recently as just this week. This is a very specific concern..

So when I heard Imperial Metals is looking into mining the

Clayoquot Sound locations of Fandora and Catface Mountain, I am less than eager as I watch the rain pound down outside my office window.

Or Saturday’s sewage overflow in the Capital Regional District following (again) heavy rains, spawning advisories after discharges at a pair of outfalls in Cadboro Bay. About 2,600 cubic metres of sewage was spilled, according to the Times-Colonist The public is advised to avoid contact with the water. What the story doesn’t say about where the sewage was bound anyway -the blue (mostly) waters of the Pacific -spoke volumes about how much the capital’s lack of adequate sewage treament is just taken for granted.

The good news? The signs will be removed once testing shows the enterococci levels are below the recreational limit. Nice. Who wants to see the words “enterococci” and “recreational” anywhere near each other?

If, on the West Coast, our water is musty or homely but still harmless, we are better off than some.

But whether it’s Ucluelet’s brown water that stains linens for tourism industry providers or Tofino’s antiquated sewer system that matches that of Victoria for not meeting provincial standards for sewer treatment (and yes, I know the province has waived those standards for Tofino) we have to gear up to handle things responsibly.

And then there’s all that fresh water at Kennedy Lake.

Ask for help where we can get it, yes. If that means assistance from provincial or federal governments because we play host paradise to tourists from around the world, that makes sense.

But tax increases are going to come. Which means it behooves taxpayers and voters to demand tax bucks be spent carefully, painstakingly even.

Water is just that big a deal.

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