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Council warns against Alberta water market plans

The Edmonton Journal reports today that, “Alberta’s latest step toward selling more water rights in a market system has prompted warnings that the province could lose control of a vital resource. …Alberta Environment released three reports on Monday it solicited as advice on how to manage water licences in the province. The ministry plans to consult Albertans next summer on a draft plan to change the way it handles water allocations.”

The Edmonton Journal report continues, “Maude Barlow, chairwoman of the Council of Canadians, said Alberta could be about to make a big mistake. ‘It looks like the province is going to be the first in Canada to move to a market-based solution for water.’ Barlow, who (was) also senior adviser on water to the president of the United Nations General Assembly, said that’s what has happened in Chile, Spain, Australia, and California. ‘It’s a big concern because the public loses control of something essential for life and it becomes a market commodity.’ …Barlow said Alberta is taking a big step toward a privatized market model, so water will be on sale in the open market, like running shoes or Coca-Cola. But Alberta is the province with the least fresh water in Canada and with the most critical supply issues looming in the future, she said. ‘We need to have such a strong model of conservation and a notion of equity in access to it. And instead Alberta is moving to a (system of) leave a little bit in the ground, we’ll have that base amount, and then everything else is a free-for-all put out to the market. People, in 25 years will look back and, if this is allowed to happen, will say, This was such a mistake.’”

The full article can be read at http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Province+warned+against+water+sale/2259625/story.html.

Our media release on this is at http://canadians.org/media/water/2009/23-Nov-09.html.