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NEWS: Sunshine Coast Regional District opposes water bottling proposal in Campbell River area

In December, the Sunshine Coast Regional District received eight Crown applications for the extraction of water. A numbered company and the Kwaikah First Nation put forward a proposal to extract water for bottled water. They applied to the British Columbia Ministry of Resource Operations for permits, and the Sunshine Coast Regional District was asked for comments. Concerns have been raised by the Campbell River chapter of the Council of Canadians, the Sechelt Nation, and numerous other groups.

Last week, the Victoria Times Colonist reported that, “A deluge of connected applications to extract water for bottling — from more than 40 streams around four remote inlets on the B.C. Central Coast — has prompted a flurry of requests for a full provincial environmental assessment. The applications, now individually under consideration by the Natural Resource Operations Ministry, envisage taking about 112,000 litres a day from each of the streams. The water would then be barged to Vancouver and bottled.”

The Coast Reporter reports today that, “At its February 10 planning committee meeting, (the Sunshine Coast Regional District) directors endorsed a new water bottling policy. The policy states, ‘The Sunshine Coast Regional District does not support the extraction of fresh water resources in gas, liquid or solid form from surface or groundwater for the purpose of bottled water sales.'”

“The SCRD has numerous concerns regarding the proposed project, including potential environmental damage to the Jervis Inlet ecosystem by skiffs moving in and out of the area, its impact on tourism, the minimal economic benefit the project would provide to the community and the fact the project would consume more water for the making of water bottles, thus contradicting the SCRD’s water conservation goals for the region. The importance of future demands for water was also an important part of the discussion.”

“Sunshine Coast Conservation Association…executive director Dan Bouman applauded the water bottling policy by the Sunshine Coast Regional District. …All the environmental groups are calling on B.C.’s Environment Minister Murray Coell to authorize a formal environmental assessment covering all the applications. …’This is a completely new dimension in water exploitation, unlike anything the public has seen before,’ Bouman added.”

Campbell River chapter activists Joanne Banks and Rich Hagensen have previously written of this proposal, “Why would we wish to encourage the further commodification of our coastal watersheds by setting up a bottled water plant in Campbell River and exporting our water? Why add millions of plastic water bottles to landfills, roadsides and oceans?””

And North Island NDP MLA Claire Trevena has stated, “I have met with the Minister of Environment, Murray Coell, and hope that he looks at these plans as a whole, and orders a cumulative environmental assessment. We need accountability on this – not a quick survey.’” She adds, “Water is a precious resource and a human right. We have to protect against it being simply a commodity to be owned and traded.”

Past campaign blogs on this water extraction issue in BC are at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=6322 and http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=6397.

The Coast Reporter article is at http://www.coastreporter.net/article/20110218/SECHELT0101/302189973/-1/sechelt/scrd-stands-firm-on-bottled-water-project.