I still remember learning about the water cycle in elementary school, when we were told that water is recycled in nature and therefore life can be sustained for generations to come. Therefore to me, learning about the water crisis to me is both shocking and expected. It was shocking to fathom how humans can deplete a seemingly infinite resource. At the same time, when you think about the attitude of how western societies see nature as a resource-generating machine to be exploited, it makes sense that people will manage to squeeze every single drop of water out of the Earth. However, with our current system, some people can use as much water as they desire while others cannot fulfil their basic needs. I believe that water should a resource that everyone should have equal access to, and everyone should have the responsibility to protect the quantity and quality of it. Water has been an essential part of the origin of life billions of years ago, and humans as part of the life tree should sustain this legacy for other organisms to thrive.
I envision a world where everyone has access to clean drinking water, and everyone cherishes it like the most valuable thing on Earth because it is. Living in Canada, I am fortunate enough to be living in the most water-rich country. However, there are indigenous communities in this country that still don’t have access to clean drinking water. On the other hand, having experience working at the water conservation department at the City of Vancouver, I have witnessed a lot of Vancouverites’ attitudes towards using water. From complaining about not being able to wash their cars in the summer to lawyering up to sue the City and dispute their blatantly obvious water restriction violations (they were running water down the sidewalk in attempts to water the piece of grass on the boulevard across the sidewalk, at the wrong time of day). I hope people realize how precious yet important water is to our survival. Having seen places like Cape Town, where citizens have worked together to push back their Day Zero, I have faith that Vancouverites can learn to conserve water with more public awareness and education.
To ensure everyone has access to drinking water, there are a couple of things I think must be done. First, public awareness and education are important. Since most households can get clean drinking water by just turning on the tap in water-rich countries like Canada, most people are not aware of the water crisis. Just like Cape Town, I believe having awareness and a sense of urgency to the issue will make people change their behaviour. In addition, at a City level, water should be metered and charged by usage. When I first started working in the City of Vancouver, I was shocked to learn that most people are paying a flat rate for water in the city. Metering homes and businesses can not only incentivize the reduction of water usage but also make it easier to spot any leaks and water usage. It is sad to say but in reality, people are more likely to understand the value of something when it is equated to money/ capital. To ensure equity to water access within the city, the meter rate should be determined by factors like income level, and past usage, to avoid putting the water pricing burden on low-income groups.