Ecojustice Blog – Healthy communities Posted on March 28, 2013 (updated: February 17, 2015)

Why water is more valuable than diamonds

Dr. Anastasia Lintner

Today is World Water Day, a day to remember that clean and fresh drinking water is essential to you and I and many other species. With that in mind, I want to tell you why I use the law to protect and conserve your water.

World Water Day is held annually on March 22 as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. This year’s theme is Water Cooperation and the objective is to raise awareness of the potential for, and value of increased cooperation in relation to water.

Do What You Love
I love protecting and conserving water because of what my parents taught me and because, growing up in Stouffville, I spent a lot of time around water. Well, that and a crazy amount of schooling where I let my passion for the environment guide my studies.

Here’s a brief list of my fondest Ontario water memories:

  • Wading in Duffin’s Creek, trying to spot crayfish;
  • Emptying our cousin’s entire rain barrel for summer water fights;
  • Fishing off the dock in Lake of Bays;
  • Teaching water safety and lifeguarding on Boulevard Lake;
  • Being mesmerized by the falls at Shangri La campsite on the Lady Evelyn River;
  • Canoeing a winding route through seemingly endless marsh along the Wawiag River.

Memories like these seal the importance of water to me.

The Importance of Water
At university, I learned about the “paradox of value” or the “diamond-water paradox.” Water is priced significantly lower than diamonds, even though water is much more important. This distinction between what something is worth and how much it might cost has stuck with me.

In university, I focused on environmental economics. I took a special interest in how we value nature and water and how that is distinct from what we might have to pay for it. I was also fascinated with the notion that our choices can reflect more than just a financial decision. I know that the water that flows from my tap costs me less than half a penny per glass. And yet, I choose to use less. Conserving water has become a personal goal and is a focus of my work now that I’m a lawyer.

Educating My Son About Water’s Value
Now, I’m teaching my nine-year-old son where our water comes from, where it goes after it spins down the drain and what we can do to use less. My son and I enjoy walking along the shores of Lake Ontario near our home — my son particularly likes having his photo taken climbing on rocks in the summer and on ice chunks in the winter. I’m also his assistant on clean water experiments — water filtration is my favourite!

Some last words…
If we all thought about the deeper value of water, about how essential it is to communities and families all across the globe, we’d go a long way to ensuring our waters are drinkable, swimmable and fishable.

Happy World Water Day!

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