Water ethics

Resident questions the use of water in the Greater Vernon area

Water is life. It is not an industrial or economic product. Those are social or cultural values attached to water. They have ethical dimensions.

Because water is life, the goal of water use in the Okanagan should be to ensure the continued health and survival of the Vernon living community, human and non-human, and of its specific climactic cycles, for generations.

One way to do that is to support agriculture that supplies food to local families. Another is to support agriculture that grows crops that don’t make demands on water, such as wheat in the Spallumcheen, or cattails or watercress in our remaining wetlands, or even supporting Syilx grazing on the Commonage.

Since millions of litres of Greater Vernon water goes into producing apples which are shipped by the truckload for packing in Chelan, Wash., and more millions produce cherries shipped out of the country as luxury products for China, it’s pretty clear that contemporary water management strategies consider the industrial use of water to create export products to be more valuable than providing water for Greater Vernon homeowners and farmers supplying the local market to produce their own food. That’s hardly ethical.

It’s worse when homeowners, who pay taxes which create water infrastructure, clarification and storage, are penalized for using that water, while farms lying outside of Vernon receive it at a discounted agricultural rate.

Harold Rhenisch

Vernon