Although I am not directly affected by the Husky Oil Spill on the North Saskatchewan River, I attended the meeting in North Battleford on Sept. 19 to hear what an independent primary assessment consultant had to say about the current and future concerns of the pollution of the North Saskatchewan River. I was surprised North Battleford residents were not more concerned about their water, by the very lack of attendance to hear firsthand what an independent consultant had to say and what needs to be done. I commend John Cairns for giving a fair report in the Sept. 22 issue of the Regional Optimist.
What people need to know is that the consultant recommended that people living near the river ought to use carbon filters on their showers and taps “just to be on the safe side.” He would be putting it on “his taps.” What does that tell you? In the same paper, another article spouts off that the surface water is safe to use according to the Water Security Agency. So who are you going to believe? Why isn’t Husky and the provincial government coming forward with more data and information about what they are doing? Shouldn’t we be informed weekly about progress or lack thereof? It is our environment and us who will pay in the end with health problems.
This lack of response from North Battleford residents reminds me of how much people take their water for granted. I have been to many conferences and conventions over the years as an activist and concerned citizen. But in 1983 a Associated Country Women of the World conference held in Vancouver left an indelible impression on me.
When the meeting adjourned for coffee break in the morning, of the 400 women in attendance, there was a lineup of more than 40 women standing outside the washroom facilities. When I finally got inside, there was a woman from Grenada sitting on the floor, crying her heart out. Nobody was paying any attention to her, so I asked what was wrong?
She told me that she was so overcome with the amount of beautiful, clear, clean water, just flowing down the drain by people brushing teeth, washing hands, flushing toilets that she broke down and cried. She told me that she carries every drop of water that her family uses.
Since that experience, I don’t take water lightly. I don’t flush every time I use the facilities; if yellow let it mellow is the code of ethics I follow. The tap doesn’t have to run full blast either, and we certainly don’t all need a shower twice a day or every day.
If I lived in North Battleford, I would expect Husky’s insurance to pick up the tab for carbon filters for every residence. I don’t want to be another statistic like in 2000 when North Battattleford experienced cryptosporidium.