We Canadians use an average of 260 L of water each day for domestic purposes. The family of 100 years ago, which drew its water by hand, was happy with only 23 L daily! U.S. astronauts on space missions manage to drink, cook, wash, and reconstitute their food on less than 3.4 L a day.
With very little effort on our part, we could drastically reduce our water use. Edmonton meters all residential water, while Calgary is only partially metered. Guess what? Edmontonians use half as much water as Calgarians do.
Because wasted water may be robbing salmon or salamanders of a home, it makes sense to cut back. Why not consider lobbying for municipal water metering? There are also many, many easy ways we can all conserve water at home, at school, or on vacation. See how many of the suggestions found in the checklist below you can make a part of your everyday routine. Wildlife is counting on you.
What Are the Issues?
A good way to start keeping water safe for wildlife is simply to become more aware of the issues. Public awareness leads to action—and action leads to change.
Acid rain is a good example. We hear about it every day—but how exactly does it affect our waterways and wildlife? In waters fed by acid rain, fish have trouble reproducing, forests die in the corrosive drizzle, soil quality declines, and stone buildings, monuments, and automobiles erode.
About 14,000 lakes in Canada are dead because of acid rain, 100,000 have been damaged, and up to 600,000 are at risk. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to realize how drastically our wildlife is being affected by acid rain.
Here's how it happens. Every day, tonnes of pollutants pour into the air from industrial smokestacks and vehicle exhausts all across North America. The wind blows these toxic fumes hundreds of kilometres. Oxides of sulphur and nitrogen in the fumes react chemically with oxygen and moisture in the air— which results in "acid" rain, snow, sleet, or hail falling to earth.
Often, acid rain carries particles of lead and mercury, which also harm our waterways and wildlife. Half of the toxic rain falling on Canada is caused by U.S. pollution, so any "cleanup" campaigns have to be directed to American as well as Canadian governments and industries.
Environment Canada estimates that acid rain causes $1 billion worth of damage in eastern Canada alone each year. A weather reporter from your local television or radio station may be willing to talk to your group about acid rain. Why not check it out?
* About 260 pupils at Le Marchant St. Thomas School in Halifax, N.S., have completed the first phase of creating a conservation area for wildlife in their once treeless schoolyard. Besides building bird houses, youngsters have planted flowering and fruit-bearing bushes, which are sure to delight local wildlife.
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