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NEWS: Powell River forms Water Watch coalition

Murray Dobbin

CUPE reports that, “Several concerned Powell River, BC community groups have come together to form the Powell River Water Watch Coalition. …The Water Watch coalition includes CUPE Local 798, the local chapter of the Council of Canadians, three ratepayers associations, as well as the local chapter of the Sierra Club.”

“These groups were shocked by the City of Powell River’s surprise announcement in April 2010 that they had reached an agreement in principle with Catalyst Paper for, among other things, co-treatment of municipal sewage in the Catalyst Powell River mill. …The twenty-year agreement, with an option for renewal, would pay Catalyst $750,000 annually to treat the region’s wastewater.”

The CUPE report adds, “All the coalition members believe strongly that ownership, operation and management of water and water-related utilities must remain in the hands of the public. The great speed and total lack of public consultation or input for the agreement was extremely alarming.”

Murray Dobbin, of the Powell River chapter of the Council of Canadians, says, “CUPE’s involvement and support for the community’s effort is absolutely critical to our success. Its long experience and knowledge about water issues is a huge help.”

CUPE 798 president Graham Mahy says, “Privatization of water or wastewater treatment has been proven time and time again to be a bad idea. Water and wastewater should not be entrusted to a private company. The public should have control and accountability.”

The Powell River Water Watch website is http://prwaterwatch.wordpress.com/.