Time for discussion
There certainly seems to be a fair amount of profit to
be made in the sale of Canada's fresh water. Any potential
profits from bulk water exports by the federal government
could go a long way in cutting back personal and corporate
income taxes and helping our public health care system.
They could even be used to remove the dirty sediments
still lurking in the lower Great Lakes.
Yet, our federal government has taken a decidedly protectionist
stance against the proper marketing of bulk water exports.
The Liberals have continually refused to allow water sales
from international boundary waters. Our provincial governments,
which have complete jurisdiction over fresh water sales
from their own provincial sources, are also unable to
export this natural resource.
But this is the wrong economic strategy. Rather than
concerning ourselves with finding ways to protect our
fresh water from international companies, the federal
government should open up the market and allow private
companies to get involved in bulk water exports.
From an economic standpoint, it makes sense to sell our
renewable supply of fresh water for a profit. Canada currently
sells large amounts of spring water, melted iceberg water
and glacier water to foreign countries without any damage
to the environment. Our water has also been used in alcoholic
beverages such as beer and in various types of soft drinks.
By refusing to sell our fresh water, the federal government
is wasting Canada's comparative advantage in this avenue.
For example, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy reported
that an average annual rainfall of 33 feet in B.C.'s Link
Lake would send enough water into the Pacific Ocean to
meet all of California's water needs for the next 20 years.
Imagine the profits that Canada could reap from bulk water
exports in this lake and other lakes and rivers.
So, why not sell our fresh water?
By getting private companies involved in the process
of selling our fresh water, new business opportunities
and new jobs will be created in Canada.
And providing a proper financial environment for bulk
water exports will increase the overall market value and
profit margin of fresh water.
As well, it may be necessary for Canada to provide parts
of the world with fresh water from an environmental standpoint.
The International Water Management Institute has reported
that at the present pace of water usage, there could be
a global water scarcity by 2025. Upali Amerasinghe, an
IWMI scientist, has stated that "for the world to feed
itself in 25 years, irrigated agriculture will require
17 per cent more water supply."
If available sources of fresh water are scarce in impoverished
countries, there is a real threat that their crops will
perish and food supplies will shrink.
The federal Liberals need to drastically change their
policy on bulk water exports to foreign countries.
By treating fresh water like the rare and valuable commodity
it is, we would make it impossible for governments, companies
and individuals to continually waste and abuse this important
natural resource in the future.