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Halalt First Nation tries to block water project

The Globe and Mail reports today that, “A plan by a Vancouver Island community to dig wells to provide safe drinking water for about 4,000 people has run into a legal roadblock because of the concerns of a local native band.”

“The Halalt First Nation filed a petition with the Supreme Court of British Columbia yesterday to stop the District of North Cowichan from digging two new wells and installing a one-million-gallon reservoir.”

“The proposed wells would be dug on the edge of the (Halalt First Nation) reserve, and each would be capable of pumping about seven million litres of water a day from the Chemainus aquifer, which feeds the (Chemainus) river (which runs through the reserve).”

“Halalt Chief James Thomas said in a written statement, ‘We want a comprehensive management plan for the watershed before this project goes ahead. And, if it goes ahead, we want to be full participants in a monitoring program. … we want a hand on the tap should it ever be seen that the wells are damaging this river, its fish or our drinking supply.'”

“The petition asks the court to order a judicial review of the $3.6-million water project… (which) has been approved under both the federal and provincial environmental-review processes.”

“Mayor Tom Walker of the Municipality of North Cowichan said (his community) …has been plagued for years by dirty drinking water drawn from surface sources. …Mr. Walker said without the wells it’s only a matter of time before the Vancouver Island Health Authority issues more boil-water advisories. The advisories are issued when heavy rains raise the bacteria count in the water-supply basin.”

The full article is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/natives-dampen-towns-hopes-for-wells/article1275380/?.