Archive for Article

Finding a fix for Newfoundland’s troubled drinking water

Nothing better symbolizes the state of a community’s public health than the availability of clean and safe water. Yet recent water quality tests in Newfoundland and Labrador have found high levels of disinfection byproducts in the drinking water of 119 communities.

Unfortunately, these are not new concerns. CBC first drew attention to the issue of chlorine and disinfection byproducts in the municipal drinking water in 1999. The number of affected communities has since doubled.

Chlorine has been used to disinfect drinking water and prevent waterborne disease since the early 1900s. It has been a great success, preventing millions of deaths and making potable water widely available at a low cost. Read more

Lead-tainted water: How to keep homes, schools, daycares and workplaces safe

We worked behind the scenes with dozens of journalists on “Tainted Water,” a year-long investigation into lead-contaminated drinking water in Canada. We were shocked by the results.

The journalists, co-ordinated by Concordia University’s Institute for Investigative Journalism, retrieved the results of municipal lead tests from 14 Canadian cities via Freedom of Information Act requests. They also collected water samples by knocking on doors and interviewed people who assumed their water was safe.

As the results poured in, any illusions we had about widespread compliance with lead safety standards for drinking water quickly evaporated. Read more

Water prices increasingly unaffordable for low-income households

Environmentalists and water economists have long argued that Canadian households have not conserved water in part because it is priced at excessively low levels.

Somewhat lost in the water-pricing discussion are the challenges that higher water rates present for low-income households. Over the past few decades, the prices charged by municipalities for residential water and wastewater services in many Canadian cities have increased much faster than increases in the rate of inflation. Read more

Fish kills and undrinkable water: here’s what to expect for the Murray Darling this summer

A grim summer is likely for the rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin and the people, flora and fauna that rely on it. Having worked for sustainable management of these rivers for decades, I fear the coming months will be among the worst in history for Australia’s most important river system.

A farmer stands in the dry river bed of the Darling River in February this year. 

The 34 months from January 2017 to October 2019 were the driest on record in the basin. Low water inflows have led to dam levels lower than those seen in the devastating Millennium drought.

No relief is in sight. The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting drier-than-average conditions for the second half of November and December. Across the summer, rainfall is also projected to be below average. Read more

As I write these lines, bushfires rage through the ancient forests of New South Wales and our cities are choked with smoke. The severity of these fires is fuelled by drought.

For this reason, the new exhibition Water at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art is a timely and necessary contribution to an important question in art: how to best give visual representation to climate change – something that until very recently has been an abstraction for most people?

It is impossible to separate Water from the politics of climate change. The relationship, however, between art, politics and our cultural institutions can be uneasy bedfellows. This exhibition asks important questions. What is the role of the institution? To care for our shared cultural heritage? To educate? To agitate for change? Read more