Symposium to address growing fresh water concerns

Jason Henry and Jason Henry

The Canadian Studies Center is hosting its 22nd annual Reddin Symposium. This year’s event, “Charting Canada’s Freshwater Governance,” addresses issues that could arise between Canada and the United States over freshwater.

As much of the freshwater supply for the United States is shared with Canada via the Great Lakes, it could become an issue if states begin to experience water shortages, said Rex Lowe, an Environmental Studies professor. While there certainly is no shortage for the states and provinces bordering the Great Lakes, the issue could come from southern states that experience droughts, he said.

“There have been efforts by states and even cities outside the water shed to extract water from the Great Lakes,” said Lowe, who instructs a Great Lake’s Ecosystem class. “That’s where the conflicts arise.”

“It is 90 percent of our water, but there is none to spare,” Lowe said “There is none to share with people living beyond their means in the desert southwest and else where.”

Christine Drennen, the director of Canadian Studies, said this will become a growing concern for the United States.

Speakers for the event will include Rob De Loe, a University of Waterloo researcher in water policy governance, Peter Annin, author of “The Great Lakes Water Wars,” and Andrew Biro, a researcher from the Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, January 17th from 11:30 am until 4:00 pm in 101 Olscamp Hall. Admission is free, but attendees are required to register in advance by calling the Canadian Studies Center at 419-372-2457, emailing [email protected] or by registering on their Web site at www.bgsu.edu/cast.

The topic for this year’s Symposium was chosen by a planning committee that decided on freshwater governance because 2009 marks the 100th anniversary of 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty, a treaty Drennen said is held up around the world as a very civilized way to manage border waters.

Drennen said it is important to bring together academics, government officials and community members for discussion regarding policies affecting both nations.

“I think we can learn from one another, in terms of what appropriate freshwater governance policy can be, by looking at each other as an example,” she said. “Their approaches to governance can help inform U.S. approaches to governance and vice versa.”

The event is funded by support from the local community, the Canadian government and by the Reddin family. The Reddin family created the symposium to recognize the importance of the United States’ relationship with Canada.

“They wanted to create an event that would emphasize not only the trade importance but also the cultural importance, that we have such a peaceful, cooperative, and successful relationship with Canada,” Drennen said.

Lowe said it is important for students to attend the event because Ohio borders the Great Lakes.

“Most students are a bit distracted and removed from the Great Lakes, but we’ve grown up in this water shed and, in my opinion, its our greatest nature resource,” he said “People should be interested and should understand the issues that are going on with the Great Lakes. It’s part of being educated about where you live and your environment.”