World Water Day! Environmental Injustices Around Water

Happy World Water Day! For today’s blog post I will be diving into (pun intended) environmental injustices around the world that have to do with water. Three cases will be highlight in this blog: the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Cape Town Water Crisis and, the boil-water advisories on Canadian reserves.

The Dakota Access Pipeline

The Dakota Access Pipeline (or DAPL) passes over hundreds of water ways most notable Lake Oahe that falls on unceeded Standing Rock Sioux Territory. Lake Oahe connects to the Missouri River, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s primary source of drinking water. Environmental racism is at the heart of this dispute the original route for the pipeline ran north of the lake through a primary white community but was rejected because it was too close to the areas water supply. After long months of protest by indigenous communities and their allies or the ‘water protectors’ were knocked down when economic development won and the pipeline was built anyways. Since then, in six months of operation the DAPL has had a least five oil leaks, the largest being 168-gallon leak.

A detailed map showing the environmental racism in the choosing of the DAPL route. SOURCE –
Day Zero: Cape Town Water Crisis

Cape Town, South Africa may be the first city to run out of running water. “Day Zero” was given to the day when the water would run out for Cape Town, this was originally in April but has now been pushed back to July . The residents of Cape Town have been doing their part to push back day zero by being limited to using 50 liters of water per person per day to compare the average US citizen uses 375 litres per day . This crisis has been long predicted as water restrictions were first placed on 2005 than increased in 2015 then furthering to the point of the 50 litres per day. The water crisis in Cape Town has the potential of happening anywhere as seen in 14 of the 20 global cities highlighted in red.

Chart depicting the global cities facing water scarcity.  SOURCE: Mesfin M. Mekonnen, Arjen Y. Hoekstra, Sustainability, 2016

In light of the Cape Town crisis people should be taking action in their everyday lives to help prevent this. One way to take action is to look at your water footprint to see how much water you use and where you can conserve water.
Just in case your wondering why I considered this to be an environmental injustice is because the Global North contributes more to increase climate change then the Global South does. However the South takes the majority of the impacts of climate change further disconnecting people of the Global North from the effects of their lifestyle on human lives and the environment.

Boil-water Advisories on Canadian Reserves

As of July 2017 there are 121 first nation under 172 drinking water advisories across Canada. Some of these reserves have been under these advisory for two decades now, while the Canadian government does little about it. The current budget for lifting these advisories is 2.5 billion although it is estimated that it will take 3.2 billion to replace the old systems therefore the budget falls short by about 30% despite promises from the Trudeau government to lift them all. Again it is seen that indigenous peoples receiving environmental racism by experiencing a short coming in funding to receive a basic human need of clean drinking water.


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