Resolution targets commercial bottling following more than 1400% increase in water bottle exports from B.C. to the U.S. in last decade.
Vancouver — In an unprecedented move, local governments and First Nations throughout B.C. have just passed a resolution calling on the B.C. government to stop issuing water licences to commercial water bottling operations in the province. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) passed the resolution today at their annual convention in Vancouver.
“This historic resolution comes at a time when B.C. has faced a combination of skyrocketing exports of bottled water and increasing droughts,” said Bruce Gibbons, Founder of the Merville Water Guardians. “When our communities’ drinking water sources face threats from severe weather, fracking, mining, climate change and over-extraction, we cannot let corporations drain our water for profit.”
In 2015, 80% of watersheds in B.C. were in drought by August, and over half of them were “very dry” or “extremely dry.” In the fall of 2017, 80% of watersheds were again in drought. And in 2018 – the worst wildfire season on record in British Columbia – every single watershed was in drought during the late summer. Meanwhile, water exports to the U.S. have jumped more than 1460% between 2008 (7,877,000 litres) and 2018 (122,889,000 litres). Eighty-three per cent of Canada’s bottled water exports come from British Columbia.
“Development, pollution and over-extraction have had negative impacts on groundwater sources in B.C. for decades,” said Vi Bui of the Council of Canadians. “Now, climate change will bring even worse conditions that will further threaten these precious water sources.”
Today’s vote puts considerable pressure on the B.C. government to respond and halt the export of B.C.s freshwater by for-profit water bottlers.
“This is a bold move, and demonstrates that residents and local leadership are stepping up to secure water for future generations,” said Danielle Paydli, of the Canadian Freshwater Alliance. “It’s now up to the provincial government to take decisive action and protect water in B.C. once and for all.”
Community organizations, the Freshwater Alliance, the Merville Water Guardians, and the Council of Canadians worked to mobilize over 4,000 B.C. residents who sent more than 32,000 emails to local representatives supporting the motion.
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“WHEREAS water is an essential resource upon which all life, including all ecosystems and all local communities depend,
AND WHEREAS water is a public heritage and a public trust for present and future generations and access to water must not be compromised by commercial operations relating to commercial water bottling or commercial bulk water exports,
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Premier of British Columbia and the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development be requested to immediately cease the licensing and extraction of groundwater for commercial water bottling and/or bulk water exports from aquifers.”