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Speak up for B.C. groundwater

At the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention last fall, a majority of local governments and First Nations voted to call on the province to stop issuing licences to commercial water bottling operations. It was an exciting win that demonstrated the power of grassroots communities coming together to protect B.C. groundwater for current and future generations. Many Council of Canadians supporters like you took action – thank you for your work!

Recently, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said they will continue issuing licences for water bottling. The Ministry treats groundwater extraction for commercial bottling the same as any other use and maintains that there is sufficient water for extraction and commercial uses.

This is unacceptable and displays a lack of respect towards the request of these municipalities, First Nations and communities, and shows complete disregard for the future of B.C.’s water.

We must let the provincial government know this is wrong. Will you write your MLA and demand they review this decision, and respect the wishes of B.C. residents?

In the last few years, droughts, floods and forest fires have repeatedly threatened clean water in B.C. The climate crisis will further put the water sources at risk.

Meanwhile, the bottled water industry continues to drain away this precious resource, bottling and selling groundwater for huge profits. Most of the water bottled is destined for export. Exports of bottled water from B.C. to the United States increased 1,460% between 2008 and 2018. That means over 100 million litres of water each year are drained and shipped out of the province instead of replenishing the local watersheds.  

The province is ignoring the threats to B.C.’s water from the climate crisis, and the millions of tons of plastic bottles filling our landfills and oceans as they review and issue water taking permits. In the Water Sustainability Act, the government also fails to recognize Indigenous title and the rights to free, prior and informed consent to water uses on their territories. Under the B.C. Water Sustainability Act companies pay a minimal fee of just $2.25 per million litres of water.

People like you have joined with communities across B.C. and made it clear: we must protect B.C.’s water as a public trust and shared commons for community use, not for private profits. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities passed the resolution because they recognize that their local water sources are in jeopardy. We must continue to make ourselves heard at the provincial level and demand an end to groundwater extraction for commercial bottling.

I’m asking you to take five minutes and use the Council of Canadians’ easy tool to write a letter to your MLA, Premier Horgan and the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development today.