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CINDY DAY: Water cooler talk tees up World Environment Day

Cindy Day speaks at Our Water, Our Future symposium in Halifax June 4.
Cindy Day speaks at Our Water, Our Future symposium in Halifax June 4. - Contributed

On June 4, I had the pleasure of taking part in a water symposium. What is that, you ask?

Cindy Day
Cindy Day

It was an event or conversation about our most valuable resource: water. Oland Brewery, in partnership with Halifax Water, invited a half-dozen people to speak about water. Important information was brought forward regarding the health of our lakes and rivers, the impact climate change continues to have on our water supply, the role that manufacturers have in water conservation and the need for continued education.

Seventy per cent of the world is covered by water and our bodies are 70 per cent water. Without water, we would not exist; without water, the planet would not exist. Water is as important as it is irreplaceable. The changes are undeniable. Global temperatures have steadily increased at their fastest rates in millions of years. In the ’80s it was known as global warming, but we’ve since learned that it’s much more complex than that! But the warming component is crucial.

Science has shown that climate change touches every corner of our planet’s ecosystem and the water cycle is no exception. As the air close to the ground becomes warmer, evaporation rates will increase, resulting in an increase in the amount of moisture circulating throughout the troposphere or lower atmosphere. An observed consequence of higher water vapour concentrations is the increased frequency of intense precipitation events, mainly over land. That impact on the water cycle will result in a change that many of us don’t think about: our groundwater. Groundwater exists everywhere under the surface of the land; it is less visible but equally important. When we think about Canada, we see a land of sparkling lakes and rivers, so it’s not surprising that our primary focus in the media has been on surface waters: those lakes and rivers.

The rate at which groundwater is topped up depends on the balance between rainfall, evaporation of water from the land, transpiration from plants and runoff to rivers. Groundwater is an essential and vital resource for about 25 per cent of all Canadians. For one in four Canadians, it’s their sole source of water for drinking, washing, manufacturing and farming.

The conversation that took place June 4 at the Halifax Central Library has to happen in homes, school and corporate offices. It must include everyone from the young, learning about the water cycle, to the more senior members of our society who did not study climate change but who are living it.

World Environment Day is a great time to start that conversation.

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

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