It has been a whirlwind week of media outcry since Dan Fumano of the Province newspaper broke the story that Nestle - the world's largest food corporation - has been taking more than 260 million litres of water from BC's ground water for free.
Despite the fact that Nestle never applied for a license to access the water and is draining the size of a small lake each year, they are not breaking the law. In fact Nestle's operation is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to industries that are taking advantage of BC's outdated water laws. Beyond bottled water, industries like mining, agriculture and natural gas fracking are able to tap into BC's ground water without paying a cent to the public coffers.
With National media attention on Nestle in Hope, BC - in the heart of our home waters - we have an opportunity to lead the way on reforms to how this precious water is valued.
BC's water is governed by an archaic piece of legislation crafted in 1909. In addition to the lack of ground water regulation, the BC Water Act provides no assurances for water to be protected for the needs of local residents nor the environment.
In fact the BC Water Act issues priority of water use based on a First In Time, First In Right aka "FITFIR" basis. This means that if a company laid claim to water for a mining operation in 1950, and then later a municipality accessed the same water source in 1960, the mining operation would have priority in the times of a water dispute. Furthermore there is no recognition of Aboriginal Rights & Title when it comes to water, adding to the tensions between First Nations and the BC Government.
It is time to bring our water management policies into the 21st century. At the WaterWealth Project we have been building support for an overhaul of the BC Water Act, but we need your help to get it done!
Using practices of community engagement we are working with local residents to understand the value of our home waters while addressing the threats that are draining on our water wealth. Through educational events like Lunch & Learns, and outreach activities using political theatre we are working to keep the issue of water visible.
We are committed to building capacity at a community level, meeting with decision makers and bolstering expertise on the ground supported by science and traditional knowledge to enable more local control over decisions that impact on water.
Using the WaterWealth Declaration we are building a constituency of people to show to provincial decision makers that they need to prioritize the protection of water. Sign and share now if you haven't yet already!
So please, if you share our vision to end the corporate-give aways of water and ensure our home waters are valued and stewarded as they should be, than please support us now by signing up to volunteer or providing us with a donation.
Together we can do this!