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UPDATE: Ontario budget promotes ‘water conservation’ market

The Ontario provincial budget released yesterday states, “In 2010, the government set a goal to make the province a North American leader in the development and sale of new technologies and services for water conservation and treatment. The Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act, 2010 was passed in November 2010. It will encourage the creation and export of innovative clean water technologies, promote water conservation and attract economic opportunities in the province.”

The provincial budget also says, “The water strategy also encourages innovation and commercialization in the water sector. For example: the Innovation Demonstration Fund Water Round, which focuses on the commercialization and demonstration of water technologies and assists water technology companies with the potential to be globally competitive in demonstrating their innovative technologies in Ontario…”

“The Province will host the first Ontario Global Water Leadership Summit in May 2011, which will provide an opportunity to demonstrate Ontario’s leadership in advancing innovative solutions for global water challenges.” Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui notes that this conference will take place May 17-18 in Toronto and includes United Water/ Suez Environnement North America and Veolia Waters Americas.

When Bill 72, the Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act, was introduced in May 2010, we linked it to concerns raised by Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow in her book Blue Covenant. Barlow wrote that, “It is to the distinct advantage of the private water industry that the world’s freshwater supplies are being polluted and destroyed. With governments, industries and universities investing so heavily in the burgeoning water cleanup industry, there is less and less incentive at every level to emphasize source protection and conservation.” (p.92)

She adds, “The World Trade Organization promotes and protects the trade in environmental services, encouraging cross-border trade and investment in private water cleanup companies. Under the national treatment provision of the WTO, governments cannot favour domestic water companies and will have to open up their bidding process to the water technology transnationals that are getting more powerful all the time.” (p.92-93)

Barlow notes that Suez, Veolia, GE, Dow Chemical, BASF and other private corporations are already invested in this technology (p.78-79). The participation of United Water/ Suez and Veolia at this upcoming conference in Toronto underlines their involvement in this water ‘market’.

The Ontario budget can be read at http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/budget/ontariobudgets/2011/ch1a.html#c1_secA_waterStrat. For more on the May 17-18 conference, go to http://h2o.ocediscovery.com/en/default.aspx.