Water Sustainability

BC’s ‘Water Sustainability Act’
A Trojan Horse for Privatization and Deregulation?

Will it be Sustainable and Public, or Go To Industry and Special Interests?

Posted on January 29, 2011 by Norman Hill

You probably haven’t heard of it, but the BC government has created a new ‘Water Sustainability Act’ (WSA). This new act is being sold as a ‘modernization’ of an outdated piece of legislation, the old Water Act. But, as always, the devil’s in the details, and several components of the WSA seem to be anything but sustainable. In fact, the new act seems more like a Trojan Horse that will facilitate the privatization and de-regulation of river/stream water rights and usage.

In a recent article on the new act, Randy Christensen outlines the serious threat to the public interest posed by the BC government’s legislation: http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/water/2011/01/26/bc%E2%80%99s-water-be-sold-highest-bidder

Randy points out that the only way to stop the theft of our public water is to raise such an uproar that the BC government will be forced to back down on the worst aspects of the new act.

There are at least five ways you can do this:

0. Use the government website comment form to demand that the government drop the worst components of the new act, such as its water privatization (‘water markets’) and de-regulation of ‘environmental flows’ measures. You can comment until Feb. 21 at the following site, by clicking the ‘We welcome your comments and questions.’ section: http://blog.gov.bc.ca/livingwatersmart/

0. Contact your MLA and ask him/her to pressure the government to abandon its privatization and de-regulation measures in the WSA. You can find your MLA here: http://www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-1.htm

0. Contact the leadership candidates in the BC Liberal and NDP leadership contests. This is a unique opportunity to make them publicly state where they stand on the privatization and de-regulation of the WSA. You can find contact information for the leadership candidates on the provincial party websites.

0. Write a letter to the editor about why the new WSA is so bad for BC. Focus on the privatization and de-regulation issues. You can find links to newspapers here: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/canadbc.htm

0. Last, but not least, contact EVERYONE in your networks (family, friends, co-workers) and tell them about the THEFT of our public water that is being facilitated by the new water act.

Please ACT NOW to protect our public water. If you want to continue to live in a province that has democratic, public control of this precious resource, don’t delay. If you want to avoid a future in which a few corporations with close ties to the government are gifted with OUR water and the power to sell it to the highest bidder, please take action immediately.

Dozens of New Water Bottling Operations Slated for B.C. Inlets
Five British Columbian groups call for formal environmental assessment

Campbell River Feb 08, 2011

At least 40 streams in four adjoining B.C. inlets north of Vancouver have been targeted for new water bottling operations, five groups revealed today. Sierra Quadra, Sierra Malaspina and allied groups called for a full environmental assessment of the cumulative impact of these numerous applications.

The bulk of the dozens of water bottling license applications–in Bute, Knight, Jervis and Toba Inlets–were filed in 2010 and are now in the hands of the new B.C. Ministry of Resource Operations.

Friends of Bute Inlet, Sierra Club Quadra Island, Sierra Club Malaspina, the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association and the Campbell River chapter of the Council of Canadians are all calling on B.C. Environment Minister Murray Coell to authorize a formal environmental assessment covering all the applications.

“Right now, the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations is only examining each project individually, and it does not have a mandate to investigate the overall impact of taking water from at least 40 streams in the same area,” said Lannie Keller, spokesperson for Friends of Bute Inlet. “This is an industrial operation by anyone’s definition.”

The water license applications are to remove up to 112.5 cubic metres (almost 25,000 gallons) of water each day from each stream. Water will be collective from a skiff through a pump or hose and funnel, and the skiff will offload onto a barge and then transport the water by truck to a bottling establishment.

“This is a completely new dimension in water exploitation, unlike anything the public has seen before,” says Daniel Bouman of the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association. “The
sheer number of applications, the cumulative potential environmental impacts of the scheme, and certainly the growing level of public concern all justify a full environmental assessment.

North Island MLA Claire Trevena has already asked Coell to authorize an environmental assessment of the cumulative impacts of the proposed water operations. Andrew Gage, acting Executive Director of West Coast Environmental Law, has asked Coell to extend the public comment period. In a letter to Coell, Gage said the wrong questions were being asked by the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations and that the proponent should be required to provide detailed information about how the project will operate as a whole.

For more information, contact:

Lannie Keller, Friends of Bute Inlet, 250-285-2823, buteinlet@gmail.com

Daniel Bouman, Sunshine Coast Conservation Association, 604-886-8325, info@thescca.ca

Arthur Caldicott, Watershed Sentinel, 250-384-5551, arthurcaldicott@sqwalk.com