Bracebridge resident urges Muskoka to join cities like Banff, Thunder Bay to become a Blue Community

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Tricia Bilissis

I learned about the Blue Communities Project last Friday while picketing with my Global Climate Crisis/food security sign with a collection of protesters, who for many different reasons, hit the streets to walk an hour in solidarity for Climate Justice. A young woman and her activist baby were there to convey a message - “protect our waters." The Blue Communities project meets with civic councils conveying a plight much overlooked, we are enduring a global water crisis.

The projects role is to call on communities to adopt a water commons framework by: Recognizing water and sanitation as human rights. Banning or phasing out the sale of bottled water in municipal facilities and at municipal events. Promoting publicly financed, owned and operated water and waste water services.

Water sustains all life on earth, lucky we live in a prosperous country such as Canada offering 20 percent of the worlds fresh water supply. Muskokas’ rich water inheritance is threatened with almost everything that is a byproduct of civilization. Pollution, development and growth of plastic bottled water industries are intensifying climate change; We can no longer be assured that our waters are abundant, safe and secure. Global reports suggest that by 2025, two thirds of the world population will undergo a scarcity in water supply and adequate sanitation.

That’s only 5 years away people…

Today nearly 1 billion people lack basic drinking water access, affecting 1 in every 9 people on the planet. Everyday 800 children under the age of 5 die from diarrhea attributed to poor water and sanitation. A prominent health issue; almost everyone I know deals with some sort of irregularity in digestion today. Four out of five last dates I’ve been on my date had Chrones Disease, is this just me personally noticing a trend? Studies are now releasing long term effects of chlorinated drinking water contributing to a 93 percent higher risk of cancer than those people not drinking chlorinated water. There are natural alternatives which do not have any health risks and are comparably more cost effective.

(Picture taken at grocery store in Bracebridge, Ont. last week Jan. 5) looks like an awesome sale, too bad will cost us much more in so many ways down the road … Bottled water may contain Chlorine too as corporations sometimes use local municipal

facilities to sanitize and sell back to.

I know you know that the district of Muskoka adds chemicals to its water supply. I recognize a majority of my neighbours are buying bottled water, because they cannot bottom a glass of the town tap water without feeling Blech! do you know what BPA is? (BPA traces are found in 95 percent of the population.) People need to recognize what’s going on, get angry and then get over it! Look around, get up, stand up for your rights! Protect what’s left of our quality in life provided by our environments - boreal forests, fresh air, fresh clean water - but is it still clean anymore? BPA is something that you may not notice binding with your DNA, it is a process and you're passing it on to your children and grandchildren. There is growing evidence that Bisphenol A is an untreatable hormone disruptor and is also a main factor in the steady decline of fertility rates affecting both male and female reproductive systems.

I am so lucky to have a very fancy RO filtration system in the house I rent from in the town of Bracebridge. Installment has saved the household from buying extremely redundant plastic bottled water and banished the cancer causing chemical so powerful I could not boil away the smell or taste for tea. But I wonder if my taps are now subject to leaching lead from inadequate old pipelines as uncovering news recently reported of harmful levels recognized in majority of households as well as major facilities across Canada.

Watershed councils are truly upset by the amounts of salt run off weakening the health of our surrounding ecosystems. Alternatives such as sugar beet solution offer an outperforming action melting ice and snow without the devastating impacts which salt run-off has on the environment. Will we experience worse flooding yet to come in 2020? Temperatures rise, permafrost thaws, our glaciers melt, river flow becomes more unpredictable, lakes warm filling with toxic algae compromising complete ecosystems that link the chain of our own existence. Huntsville and Baysville (2 out of 6 municipalities that make up the District of Muskoka) removed fluoride from their civic water treatment plants in 2014 after pushing for all of Muskoka too. This harmful chemical is commercialized as an anti-cavity protection protocol- that I call BS! My second home, Vancouver and most of BC avoids fluorinating the water. West Coast water treatment exhibits cleaner methods using Ozone and UV light (costs less than Chlorine) to clean out micro bacteria and disinfect germ covered organisms. A revolutionary example of highly mindful and progressively educated communities commonly known to fight for natural conservation. Excessive exposure to fluoride has been connected to a number of illnesses as well as is harmful to our environment.

There are links to autoimmune, chrones and IBS with Chlorine and other chemicals added to our towns water supply. We need to urge local governments to legislate new amendments such as phasing out the sale of plastic bottled water because water is recognized as a human right. The Clean Water Act, Drinking Water Regulations, Safe Drinking Water Act have been sitting up on the shelve for too long without proper compliance obligated by our Chiefs and councillors. Honestly what gets me most is these acts have been in place since 2002 and many indigenous communities were left behind, having over 100 advisories at any given time in some areas for as long as 20 years. This is a Humanitarian issue! Calling for Social Justice, Economic and Environmental Justice for ALL. First Nations deserve this human right and because their suffering reflects our capitol successes, our governments hold an obligation to resolve these priorities first and foremost ACT on these laws more seriously and immediately.

Blue Communities are networking with an alliance of charitable not for profit organizations, local foundations and indigenous communities ultimately offering governance, human resources, grants and financial management for protecting our groundwater and restoring the health of our lakes and rivers. Rapidly racing to put Muskoka on the map as a Blue Community mandating a strong hold against exploitation of our local spring water from plastic bottle industries. Public rights to have filtration systems installed for accessible safe water and sanitation purposes, public filling stations throughout communities. We need to join the movement and rally our leaders accountable to cut out unnecessary cost, consumption and distribution of detrimental plastic and harmful chemical additives to our water.

Our mineral abundant spring water contained in our natural aquafers is key in maintaining proper health; aids in absorption of nutrients, digestion, and circulatory systems in our bodies. Say no to adding Chlorine and Fluoride in our water treatment, authorize responsible action while acknowledging that further research should be commended. The tipping point is this moment, running towards a giant leap of faith into a more sustainable sound future building upon its independence and resiliency during these unforeseen coming years.

Our role and relationship to nature is prevalently dependent on this beautiful crystal clear clean quenching substance, but as a link to health problems and unsafe drinking advisories has got me questioning why is the population so sick? Our water regulations need regular monitoring and updating as no reports have been released since 2017! Why are we still adding these concentrated chemical compounds to our drinking water? Underground spring water is prolific in our communities, can we have public artesian wells implemented in town and rural areas free for everyone ASAP?

Clean Air – Clean Water – Clean Food – Social Justice – The Greater Good

Blue Communities in Canada

Following-up on my last commentary regarding Bracebridge filling in our water table on Beaver Creek with the new Arena Rec Center and direct consequences to natural species and habitats aftermath. This Water Table (I don’t know how no one has recognized this before) is critical in protecting as it’s the beginning of an opened flowing artisanal well under our residential and downtown core. Messing around with this Aquafer will cause chaos, the whole area is unfit for future development. This is becoming too costly and damaging. Muskoka Conservacy has yet to reciprocate, I'm optimisticly extending outreach with Friends of the Watershed and Blue Communities that will hopefully build alliances moving towards achieving a great common goal.

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