Alternative World Water Forum

In B.C., public and media attention has been focused on water pricing and Nestlé’s water takings. In February, the B.C. government released water rates which ranged from $0.02 to $2.25. The rates, which take effect January 1, 2016 when the new Water Sustainability Act comes into force, are the lowest across any of the provinces in Canada.

There has been an overwhelming amount of public backlash against the low rates, particularly with Nestlé only being required to pay $2.25 per million litres, a total of roughly $600 per year for the 265 million litres they draw from a well in Hope.

After SumOfUs and the WaterWealth Project delivered over 225,000 signatures for a petition calling for increased water rates, the B.C. government surprisingly agreed to review the water rates.

The increased public awareness about Nestlé’s and other water takings is incredible and it is encouraging to see the B.C. government respond to public opposition.

However, while there are key strengths and major improvements in the Water Sustainability Act (WSA), including the start of regulating ground water, there are parts of the act that are still very problematic. The WSA could end up prioritizing permits held by fracking, mining or bottled water companies like Nestlé over municipalities, small farmers or other community water uses because it is still based on the ‘first in time first in right’ (FITFIR) system. The permits that will be issued to groundwater users will be for an indefinite period of time. And this is where the risk of NAFTA, the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) or other trade agreements comes into play.

Read more on the website of Council of Canadians

Categories: Global stories

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