April 22nd, 2024

Drought situation a growing concern

By Lethbridge Herald on March 22, 2024.

Al Beeber – managing editor

Are we going to finally get the moisture that helps to avert a water crisis in southern Alberta?

If the forecast holds true, we should be getting a substantial amount of snow through the weekend to help alleviate a potential disaster for spring if we start the second consecutive year of drought.

Well before dawn yesterday when I laid out this column, the snow had started falling heavily and by the time you read this, hopefully the foothills, mountains and near-empty reservoirs will be getting a pile of it. 

And as much as we all want spring temperatures, the reality is we need moisture more and we should all be willing to sacrifice some early tanning time to avert a crisis.

I personally am extremely worried about the water situation. We live in an arid area where water can’t be taken for granted. 

When I was the Homes editor years ago I started practising xeriscaping at my first house on Stafford Drive North to reduce the need for regular watering.

I dug up the grass – by hand – on the front lawn and planted low spreading junipers after laying down landscape fabric and gravel. In the early 1990s, xeriscaping wasn’t a term we heard about often but I’d gotten wind of it and did a huge feature story for the paper on the subject. I also did stories on underground sprinkler systems and their benefits which include using less water than traditional sprinklers. And I thank Greg Weadick for all the help he gave me in coming up with those stories, Greg who was one of my go-to sources when I was doing home and garden stuff.

And as a person who was developing an interest in gardening, I put my education the subject to work.

 When I drive by the old Stafford Drive house occasionally, I see my efforts are still there with the front yard of that home totally obscured by evergreens.

Being a westsider since 1996 in an area that was relatively new at the time, I’ve had to contend with the impact of heat and sun on the yard. With a corner lot, I’ve got a huge amount of lawn which I’m inclined to get rid of if I can figure out a way to do so that won’t destroy the street appeal and lower the value of my home.

Like others in the neighbourhood, I’ve done my effort to shade the house and yard by planting trees – the back fence which is lined with Swedish columnars which provide a fantastic wind break and when the leaves are out, a decent amount of shade at certain times of day, as well.

But like everyone I can do more and since last summer when voluntary water restrictions were first announced, I’ve gone out of my way to reduce personal water consumption. 

I seldom wash my vehicle, which a neighbour jokingly texted me about last weekend, I try to use less water when doing basic personal hygiene like turning off the water while brushing teeth, and shaving and only spending a few seconds under the shower.

I’ve got low-flow toilets and a water-miser washing machine which uses only the minimum needed amount to wash clothes. When the dishwasher is used, most times it does the quick cycle.

Small efforts like these – if practised on a large scale – could help reduce the amount of water we in the city consume. 

But as we know, city residents aren’t the biggest consumers of southern Alberta’s water resource – agriculture is. 

And we desperately need snow or rain to fill up the horribly low reservoirs so there will be enough water for everyone’s needs if we endure another summer of drought.

Those who dismiss the dire situation we are in by saying weather patterns change and climate change has always happened, need to take a serious look at the impact mankind is having on the planet with all the carbon emissions, the destruction of our forests and of course, now the potential impact again on water resources with proposed coal mining in the nearby Rockies.

These are problems – not just here in Alberta and Canada but around the world where there are far greater polluters than here. Yet the prime minister of Canada on April 1 is determined to raise the carbon tax that we pay, adding more stress on financially challenged Canadians. Which is also problematic in an era of inflation and higher taxes.

Like climate change deniers, Justin Trudeau needs to take a look at the bigger picture and instead of preaching to the Canadian choir about the need to reduce emissions, the prime minister should get on his pulpit on the global stage and urge the bigger industrial nations – including our neighbour to the south – to do the same. 

They need to be his target audience, not we Canadians who know what needs to be done. We Canadians who Trudeau increasingly seems to disrespect. Trudeau who bizarrely says it’s not his job to be popular. 

Trudeau who comes across like he’s dying on the flag for the sins – real or imagined – of Canadians, with his righteousness on issues that are increasingly angering voters.  

We are just one small minnow in a pond of bigger fish and we’re not the biggest consumers in that pond. Trudeau needs to realize that. 

He needs to focus his energies trying to convince other countries to do their part to address climate change. 

He needs to begin some reconciliation of his own with Canadian taxpayers!

For much of my life I voted Liberal – I learned an enormous amount about politics and leadership from John Reid and Pat Reid, the Liberal MP and MPPrespectively who were from Fort Frances, two genuine statesmen who respected Canadians.

I do not see that same respect from the leader of this country, a member of that same party. 

We Canadians suffer like everyone else from the disrespect of our planet by countries around the globe.

We are seeing the impact of that with our dire water situation, the climate change that has affected our province which realistically isn’t entirely due to the behaviours of Canadian residents or industry, the operative word being “entirely.”

Because all of us, in one  way or another, have hurt the environment. Including the prime minister of this country.

Before the City has to implement more restrictions, we all need to do our part to ensure there is water to be had this year. 

This is a serious matter and unless nature miraculously provides us with weeks on end of much needed rain, we’re in trouble.

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