• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Column: We must never take our freshwater for granted

In AWARE News Network
Jan 20th, 2024
Over the past half-century, Lake Simcoe’s salt concentration has increased by over five times, says columnist

“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink!”  From the 1798 poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Years ago, I visited Victoria Harbour and walked around its maritime museum. Soon after the War of 1812, Great Britain established a shipyard near Midland, building warships to protect the upper Great Lakes from the recently established and aggressive United States.

One display caught my eye. The museum listed stores the admiralty required aboard a “third-rate warship” (a ship with 64 to 80 guns). These included items like salt beef, salt pork, bread (actually ship’s biscuit), rum, cheese, butter, rope, carpentry tools, sail canvas, gunpowder, cannon balls, etc.

One item stood out: “80 barrels of fresh water.” Why would anyone insist on barrels of fresh water aboard a ship sailing some of the purest, cleanest water on Earth? Clearly, this was a standard list developed for what was then the world’s most powerful salt-water navy.

Canada has a lot of fresh water. According to Statistics Canada, more than 20 per cent of the world’s fresh water is found here. Compared to other wealthy, developed countries, Canada’s water rates highly.

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