An Earth Out of Water: Local and Global Perspectives on the Water Crisis

Change for Children Association and Parkland Institute are cosponsoring:

An Earth Out of Water

A conference to launch the Second United Nations Decade of Water
Local and Global Perspectives on the Water Crisis

March 18 and 19, 2005
Main Floor ETLC, University of Alberta

Registration is $25 or $15 (without lunch)
Download the registration form at or

Conference Program and speakers below.

The state of water in Alberta remains a critical and contested key issue and this symposium is a challenge to all Albertans to respond to and understand the dirty business of clean water in Alberta. The health and well being of all Albertans depends on the health of our water. Water as a public good is increasingly coming into conflict with the goals and decisions being made by government, and industry.

Speakers will address various themes related to water from the legal battles being waged in the province to the depth of privatization and what that means to our social and economic well being.

For more information contact Change for Children at (780)448-1505 , or Parkland Institute at (780) 492-8558. Conference posters can be printed off of the Change for Children website.


Friday, March 18

7:00-9:30 pm Evening panel: An Earth out Of Water- Global, and Local Perspectives on the Water Crisis

Maureen Wilson - University of Calgary
Maureen Wilson is currently a professor at the University of Calgary be will be speaking about the conflicting views of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of water as a human right versus the prevailing view of the World Trade Organization, World Bank and International Monetary Fund/ Water Corporations view as water as a commodity and how these competing perspectives play themselves out in the experiences of the world’s poor.

Linda Duncan - International consultant in environmental law
Linda Duncan is an International consultant in the area of environmental law & enforcement, most recently Asian Development Bank project on natural resources legal framework for Indonesia and CIDA project building environmental law & enforcement capability for Bangladesh Department of the Environment. Linda will be giving a legal perspective on water issues and providing ideas regarding legal rights and access to safe/clean water.

Linda is also an environmental law and policy consultant and advisor to government, international organizations, environment organizations and First Nations. She has also served as a board member for the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA), and Canadian Council on Human Resources for the Environment Industry. Linda has also served as Vice President for Lake Wabamun Enhancement and Protection Association and is a contributing author to first, second and third editions of Hughes, Lucas and Tilleman , Environmental Law and Policy (Emond Mongomery); numerous other legal publications.

Diana Gibson - Parkland Institute
Diana is the Research Director at the Parkland Institute and will be addressing the social and political issues of water, particularly privatization.

Water is a key component of the Parkland Institute mandate of carrying out political economy research and programming in the public interest. The Institute has launched a major research and programming strategy on the political economy of water issues in Alberta. The goal is to bring an analysis of power, wealth and influence to the discussion of water issues in Alberta and determine who is making the decisions, what those decisions are based on, and how those decisions are affecting Albertans and their communities. Parkland promotes the public interest by raising awareness among Albertans of what is at stake, developing people-centered alternatives, and supporting community activists in their efforts to protect water as a common good.

Jim Byrne Dr. Byrne will focus on water in Alberta and Canada in his examination of the key reasons why Albertans should be very concerned about the state of water in the province and country. He will address some of those concerns such as drought, pests, and viral outbreaks. Jim will also look at decisions that are being made in the area of resource development in Alberta and the impacts of this on water supply and health. Dr. Byrne will also speak about what he terms as silent lies of those who are aware of the about the destruction, contamination and misuse of water but do not speak or take action on it. Dr. Byrne will also be participating in the closing discussion on Saturday afternoon.

JAMES M. BYRNE, Ph.D. A professor at the University of Lethbridge, Jim's career highlights include: National Theme Leader in Water Resources Management, Canadian Water Network, co-producer and project leader for the GLOBAL CHANGE: ACCESS TV series and the Water Under Fire TV series; a and Project Leader of the Nat Christie Climate and Agriculture Research Program, 1992-96. Jim is currently supervising a series of studies investigating the impacts of climate change on water resources in western North America. He also serves as project leader and principal investigator, microbial ecology program, Oldman River Basin, Alberta. Jim has supervised/co-supervised 18 graduate students at the Masters level since 1995, a number of research associates and two Post Doctoral Fellows.

Saturday, March 19

10:00-12:00 Concurrent Workshops

Session A: All of the water of the world, who is in control?
This session will examine key issues and initiatives that are that are happening with regards to water in the global south. It will also examine trends in privatization on a global scale, in particular schemes for water export.

Enneke Lorberg
Is a long time educator with Sombrilla Refugee Support Society and is a veteran organizer of events on the water crisis. Enneke originally from the Netherlands, has been a Program Manager with EPSB, A Program Consultant with Alberta Social Service, a Social and cultural planner with the Edmonton Parks and Recreation, and also worked as a Manager of Employment Initiatives at the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers. Enneke has been a long time water activist and has organized numerous events around the province to raise awareness and demand action on water in Alberta and globally.

Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology
CAWST is a Canadian registered charity, offering professional services in water and sanitation for the poor in developing countries. We are an independent organization; not affiliated with any government or religious body. CAWST’s services have benefited more than 50,000 families in over 40 developing countries.

Andrea Roach is the International Advisor for Central America and Brazil. Andrea has experience working in Haiti, Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Honduras with CAWST. She has recently returned from El Salvador and Honduras. Andrea has also worked for the American Red Cross on a potable water system in El Salvador in 2001, and has traveled quite a bit in Latin America. Andrea is a Chemical Engineer, and has worked in the petroleum industry for several years.

Session B: Dirty Business: Water versus Industry rights

This session will look at the ways in which industry is impacting the Onoway aquifer and the irreparable damage that spurred the created on this Conservation Association.

Ian Skinner – Onoway River Valley Conservation Association
Mike Northcott - Onoway River Valley Conservation Association

Ian Skinner grew up and educated in Nova Scotia and moved to Alberta in 1984. He has served in the Canadian Forces and had the opportunity to travel and work in 27 countries/cultural settings. Ian also has several years of transportation management and is a graduate of the Environmental Resource Management Program at the University of Alberta.

Ian is the founding and long term member of the Onoway River Valley Conservation Association (O.R.V.C.A)

Mike Northcott Grew up in Seebe, AB and educated in Banff and Canmore, AB. He has Secondary Education from S.A.I.T., Electrical Engineering Technologist and self educated Power Engineer, R.E.T. Mike has also worked in worked in various construction projects, the electric energy utility, and has taught power engineering at N.A.I.T. Mike has additional work experience in North Africa and recently retired in January 2005.

Mike is a founding and long term member of the Onoway River Valley Conservation Association.

The Onoway River Valley Conservation Association was formed to monitor and advocate for the bioregional sustainability of the ancient preglacial channel known as the Onoway River Valley.

This valley spans seven municipalities: Lac Ste. Anne County, Onoway, Spruce Grove, Parkland County, St. Albert, Sturgeon County and Edmonton. Residents from three affected Counties (Lac Ste. Anne, Parkland County and Sturgeon County) decided to form ORVCA to inform and educate the public and government officials about the importance of the Onoway River aquifer and the potential for irreparable damage by industry.

Engineers without Borders
Engineers without Borders Canada work to support developing communities around the world. People struggle daily for clean water, for bigger harvests, for an education for their children, for a stronger voice, for a chance to work their way out of poverty. We help them gain access to the technologies they need to improve their lives.

1:00-3:00pm Concurrent Workshops

Session A: "Ten (and a few more) Good Reasons to Keep Water Services Public - protecting water resources, and investing in the public interest"

Lynn Gorman - Council of Canadians
Lyn Gorman is Prairie Organizer with the Council of Canadians. Long time activist. Past President of the Fort McMurray and District Labour Council, former member of the Alberta Federation Labour Environmental Committee, and former Fort McMurray Public School Board Trustee.

In early 1999, the Council of Canadians launched its campaign to ban the bulk export of Canadian water and head off what it sees as the gradual commodification and privatization of this priceless, public resource.

Bonnie Ferguson - Canadian Union of Public Employees
Bonnie Ferguson works as Research Representative for the Canadian Union of Public Employees in Alberta. CUPE has been active for many years in research and campaigns to protect water resources, promote public investment in water infrastructure and defend against the privatization of public water services.

Session B: The waters of Alberta: Where have they gone and where are they going?

Don Bester - Butte Action Committee Don Bester is owner-operator of a cow/calf ranching operation in West Central Alberta that raises both commercial and purebred cattle. He is Chairman and Technical Advisor to the Butte Action Committee, a group in the Rocky Mountain area formulated to preserve and protect freshwater from mismanagement and contamination. A retired reservoir engineer and geologist from the oil and gas industry, he is also Director and Technical Advisor to the Cleanwater Foundation.

The Butte Action Committee is group of farmers from the Red Deer area who have mounted tremendously effective and high profile opposition to existing practices such as freshwater well injections for oil extraction. They are also currently the most vocal opponents of the government’s plan to expand extraction of coal bed methane – a practice which requires the removal of underground water in order to reach the gas. The Butte Action Committee has been so successful, that they even obtained vocal and active support for their position from Red Deer City Council. The provincial media and the government have found it impossible to ignore their message.

Dr. William Donahue - University of Alberta
Dr. William Donahue is an environmental research consultant and contractor who specialize in impacts on climate change, acidification, and UV radiation on lakes and streams, and impacts of human activities in cycling of mercury in freshwaters. He has done extensive research on water and is an outspoken critic of freshwater management practices. Dr. Donahue is also a researcher on water resources in the boreal forest and Canadian Prairies.

3:00-4:00 pm - Closing Discussion

Various presenters from both Friday and Saturday will give closing reflections to launch the second international decade of water and for continued efforts to protect water as a public good, in Alberta.

Dr. Jim Byrne will share footage from the Water under Fire series that has astonishing images of water and the Alberta oilsands.

Parkland Institute
11045 Saskatchewan Drive, Edmonton, AB. T6G 2E1
Phone: (780) 492-8558 - Fax:(780)492-8738
email: [email protected]