Water - What Price is Right?

Chilliwack_WaterWealth_rally_May_12_2013_225w.jpgAfter intense campaigning by WaterWealth and others, the pressure of public attention provided the push to finally get the new Water Sustainability Act passed early in 2014, the first new Water Act in over 100 years. Deborah Corran of the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre called the B.C. Water Sustainability Act “Overall, one of the best pieces of environmental legislation in the past 15 years”. That’s the potential.

We need to act now to make that potential a reality.

Before passing the Water Sustainability Act the province held a public consultation on water pricing. One of the principles of that consultation was cost recovery under which was stated Water pricing should support sustainable water management and generate sufficient revenue to recover the costs of managing the water resource."

Some time between the public consultation and the announcement of new water pricing, the cost recovery principle got tossed out. In fact, the province bragged in their news release that the price charged will be "among the lowest in the country", and that it is.

The maximum rate is a mere $2.25 per million litres!225_300.jpg

As an example of what that means, Nestlé will pay less than $600 per year for the water used by their bottling plant in Hope, B.C. They make a multi-million dollar profit from selling that water back to us. At this price it is no wonder foreign investors are buying up more water sources in B.C. for export.

The province is also waiving licence fees for some 20,000 non-domestic water licences--a multimillion dollar giveaway of licences that won't come up for renewal for at least 30 years.

And it gets worse! The province also changed how the volume of water used will be measured. The result, according to estimates in the BC budget, is that even with the new rates and addition of groundwater users, revenue generated by water rental fees will only increase about 10%. We’ll be lucky if the public don’t end up subsidizing industry for the administrative cost of handing out the new licences, never mind funding any new water management initiatives. Instead of water law we can be proud of we will have the old 1909 status quo with groundwater users rolled in.

If we let this $2.25 stand, not only does it mean that large multinational corporations like Nestlé are not paying their fair share while making massive profits from a shared resource, it also means that the province is setting up this new water law for failure. The modest revenue it will receive from the lowest fees in the country will be a drop in the bucket compared to the costs of effectively managing the water resource, including science, monitoring, planning and facilitating community involvement, regulation and enforcement.

We aren’t letting this stand.

ian_global_300.jpgTogether we can still make the Water Sustainability Act the world leading water law it was written to be. The provincial government thinks a million litres of pure, clean freshwater is worth just $2.25. Can you contribute the equivalent of a few million litres at the province's price to help convince the government that water is worth more? Your donation of $10, $20, or $50 can go a long way toward putting "sustainability" back into the Water Act!

WaterWealth have been working hard to once again to alert the public to the issues. We’ve appeared on TV and radio as well as spreading the word through newspapers, our blog, and social media. British Columbians are responding. Working with SumOfUs.org we have a petition that has over 130,000 signatures so far.

Soon we will present this petition, calling on government to revisit the water rates and revise them to fulfill the commitment to “fully implement the Water Sustainability Act and associated programs”.

Our Funding Model

WaterWealth has been recognized as one of the leading community organizations in the work to modernize our water laws. We have achieved this recognition by pouring our hearts, souls and resources into this work because it is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity for British Columbians to make a lasting and powerful change for our children and our children’s children.

We have made the choice not to register as a charity because of the restrictions and chill that the Harper government has placed on the ability of charities to engage with citizens and the political process. This makes it harder to get grants from foundations and other sources but means we can speak our voice and help citizens speak their voices.

As a result, today we are almost entirely dependent on donations from our supporters who recognize the work that we do. To be a sustainable organization, we need your support. Please consider a donation today.

It is vital that we make the province get this pricing right to enable the other parts of the Water Sustainability Act that will make it 21st century water law. Together we can win this!

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commented 2015-04-30 18:16:35 -0700 · Flag
Thanks Ian for objectively laying out the pieces of the Water puzzle, in the face of pretty subjective treatment by gov’t and industry. I think that’s summarized in Nestle CEO’s comment that “extremist NGO’s” think water is a human right. The audacity is thundering, and the intention is a bit chilling.

Let’s lend a hand with this groundswell campaign to keep our water resources sustainable. The WSA can help do that if it’s not hijacked. Please donate to WaterWealth everyone!!