Press Releases



Members of the BC Government and now Judi Tyabji, wife of a former Liberal Party leader, have been commenting on thepetition by the WaterWealth Project and SumOfUs calling on the Government to review the rates the Government plans to charge for administration of the Water Sustainability Act.


Ian Stephen, Campaign Director of the WaterWealth Project, responds with the following comment:


“Water is something we all rely on, which is why it is unfortunate to hear the Environment Minister Mary Polak, Chilliwack-Hope MLA Laurie Throness, and now Judi Tyabji, wife of a former Liberal Party leader, try to discredit a public effort to see water better managed in this province. Curiously they have been deflecting from the real issue of water management by talking about “selling” water or “profiting” from water. To be certain, we share the concerns raised with water commodification and the privileging of corporate interests within NAFTA and other Free Trade Agreements, however we do not agree that these trade agreements should restrict our politicians from stepping up and improving how our government ensures water is protected and managed.


Our petition is clear in asking that the existing administration fees for water regulation be raised enough to actually cover the costs of doing the work. This means we want to see the Government charge corporations like Nestle enough of an administration fee to reflect the true costs of researching, coordinating and funding effective water management systems throughout the province.


Our campaign is not about turning water into a commodity for sale; it is about demanding that our politicians act more responsibly in managing water and ensuring it is valued according to its worth, in the social and cultural sense of “value” as well as the fiscal. It’s also about addressing the inequities that exist between water users and uses like Nestle bottling,Nexen fracking, and Fraser Valley farmers’ food production. There is much work that is needed to build effective water management structures in this province:  Reconciling relationships with First Nations, researching accurate quantities and qualities of waterways, coordinating expert analysis and building localized water protection plans. All of this work takes money that our government should be raising from major water users.


Minister Mary Polak has tried to argue that: “We don’t sell water. We charge administration fees for the management of that resource."  What our petition is doing is pointing out that these administration fees are far too low for an element as precious as water. The BC Government needs to give water the value it deserves by strengthening water regulatory practices and ensuring adequate resources are allocated for the care and protection of a resource that none of us can live without.”




For further information please contact:


Ian Stephen, Campaign Director

Email: [email protected]

Cell: 604.791.0226

Office: 604-858-8021


9 February 2015

Mixed water pricing message from province meets with mixed reception from WaterWealth

The province announced new water rates and licence fees for British Columbia February 5th. Chilliwack based WaterWealth Project, a community group that played a key role in bringing the lack of groundwater regulation to public attention--attention that largely focused on the Nestle Waters plant in Hope, BC, and which provided the impetus for the new Water Sustainability Act--give the new water pricing a mixed review.

Water licence application fees are doubled for many uses, rising from $500 to $1000. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) gets a new category with licence fees of $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000, the top rate being paid by those who use over 5-million litres per day. Sawmills and independent power projects on the other hand get a break, with licence fees for mills that use up to 50-million litres of water per day dropping from $10,000 to $1,000 and a new sliding scale being applied that lowers costs for small power producers. However, water licences are good for 30-years and licence fees for existing groundwater users will be waived in the first year after the WSA is brought into effect in 2016. New water licence fees will not be noticed by many current industrial water users.

More telling of any messages the government may be making through water pricing are the fees paid according to volume of water used, termed “water rentals”. During public consultation the province published seven “principles to inform water pricing”. Among those was the principle of fairness and equity, under which was stated “Equitable pricing should reflect differences in the value of water based on the type of right granted, intended use, location or scarcity of the resource.” The province seem to have achieved this in part by keeping water prices for food production low with such things as irrigation, crop washing, and greenhouses priced at $0.85 per million litres.

Further in keeping with the principle of fairness and equity WaterWealth looked for a strong pricing signal to recognise use that results in water no longer being a renewable resource. Much of the water used for fracking by the natural gas industry in BC is made so toxic that it must be pumped deep underground for disposal, removing it from the hydrological cycle permanently. The province failed to recognize the cost of this practice. Rates paid per volume lump fracking together with most other uses, including public facilities and municipal drinking water, under the same $2.25 per million litres. There is considerable uncertainty around LNG proposals in BC, but based on current information WaterWealth calculate that due to fracking each Q-flex LNG tanker that leaves the BC coast will represent a virtual bulk water export of up to 21-million litres, for which the industry would pay the province $47.25 in water rental fees.

Bottling, a use that does not remove water from the hydrological cycle but often does remove it from the watershed in which it originates, also received the $2.25 per million litre rate. “The Nestle plant in Hope will pay about $600 per year.” WaterWealth’s Ian Stephen said, “Never mind that the Nestle Chairman who was quoted saying that water should not be a human right probably spends that much on dinner some days, the real question is ‘does this rate provide enough revenue to ensure that water is protected for the long term?’ That is a question that remains open.”

“On one hand the government recognize that British Columbians consistently told them that water is undervalued, and they say that these new rates will be sufficient to fully implement the Water Sustainability Act and associated programs, yet in almost the same breath they boast that BC rates will continue to be among the lowest in the country.” said Stephen, “British Columbians understand the value of water to our quality of life and have been clear that they want to see pricing adequate to support the science and administration to steward water properly. That was even a point of agreement between submissions on the Water Sustainability Act from environmental groups and from Nestle.”

Groundwater inventories in BC are spotty. In many areas it is not really known what is being regulated in terms of aquifer volumes, refresh rates, and interactions between groundwater and surface water. Climate change is altering patterns of precipitation and those effects will vary from region to region. Will the government be able to alter water rates if these rates prove inadequate, or to respond to changes in water availability? At this point such flexibility does not appear to be included in water pricing.

With water licences lasting a generation, we don’t have the luxury of doing this wrong and trying again. While WaterWealth applaud the government for moving in the right direction, they also ask British Columbians to join them in telling the province that these water rates must be reviewed in the next few years and again periodically to ensure that the new Water Sustainability Act is indeed sustainable.


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October 22, 2014

Fraser Valley Candidates Questioned about Water Issues

Fraser Valley, BC – As the local elections heat up, Chilliwack-based WaterWealth Project is providing an opportunity for Fraser Valley candidates to share their perspectives on issues that affect the local waterways. Using an online questionnaire, WaterWealth put together 10 questions allowing the political hopefuls to amplify their opinions regarding issues like the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal, drinking water security, and First Nations rights & title. The questionnaire also ties in components of local water governance as outlined in the BC Water Sustainability Act.

The local elections are a prime time to ensure that the successful candidates are aware of the issues that matter most to local residents and we believe having drinkable, swimmable and fishable home waters needs to be part of that conversation.” explains Sheila Muxlow with the WaterWealth Project. “Our home waters are a central part of what makes the Fraser Valley a great place to live and our diverse local industries and high quality of life rely on healthy, productive and clean local waterways. We want to provide the public with an easy tool to assess which candidates will do the most to ensure the local waterways will be protected as they should be.

145 Candidates from Langley to Hope including Abbotsford, Chilliwack, the Fraser Valley Regional District and the District of Kent have been contacted. The Candidates have been given a deadline of October 28thto provide their responses. In early November, WaterWealth will be sharing the candidate responses answers on their website and through social and local media sources.

The WaterWealth Project is a non-partisan, citizen-driven initiative that works to amplify the voices of local community members who love the place in which they live, the nature around them, and the waters that sustain them. For more information visit

Copy of the candidate questions are attached and copied below.

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For more information please contact:

Ian Stephen, Interim Director, WaterWealth Project 604-791-0226

Sheila Muxlow, Volunteer, WaterWealth Project 604-751-0172




For Immediate Release

Tuesday May 20, 2014

Crossroads of Economy and Environment Continue to be Explored with Ongoing Business Survey

 Chilliwack, BC -- A survey of Fraser Valley businesses is underway to better understand the crossroads of the region’s economy and environment. Thus far dozens of business owners and entrepreneurs have responded, and more responses are sought after. The survey will run until the end of this month. Respondents have a chance to win a lunch for two up to a $100 value.

The WaterWealth Project, a non-partisan community organization based in Chilliwack, launched the survey on Earth Day (April 22nd). The survey is web-based with a series of questions about the strengths and health of the local economy; points of pride that business owners hold for their enterprise and community;  in what unique ways different businesses rely on local waterways; and overall opinions of the business community when it comes to issues that affect our home waters.

Survey responses have been gathered both online and in person. “In a perfect world we would be hitting the streets to facilitate the survey face-to-face with hundreds of local businesses,” explains Natalie Jones, Community Organizer with WaterWealth. “Despite working with limited capacity, we have still prioritized getting out there in the community to talk in person with business people. We’ve also been promoting this survey online which we encourage any and all business people to take advantage of.”

WaterWealth continues to seek survey participants, and will treat one lucky survey respondent to lunch for two up to $100 value at a restaurant of the winner’s choosing in the Fraser Valley. “We know that business folk work extremely hard, and their time is precious,” says Jones. “We want to honour that by offering a really great perk for taking the time to respond to our survey. Entering the draw is easy, with the last ‘question’ of the survey essentially being the entry form.”

WaterWealth will continue doing direct outreach to as many local businesses as possible, and is also inviting business people to complete and help promote the survey through to the end of May via the website link:

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 For interviews, please contact:

Natalie Jones: [email protected], 604-798-8990

Sheila Muxlow: [email protected], 604-751-0172



For Immediate Release

April 15, 2014

Earth Day Will Mark Launch of Survey to

Explore Crossroads of Economy and Environment


Chilliwack, BC -- Fraser Valley businesses are invited to participate in a survey to better understand the crossroads of the region’s economy and environment. Local organization the WaterWealth Project is formally launching the survey on Earth Day (April 22nd), and it will run for one month in the hopes of hearing from many diverse local business owners about their opinions and perspectives on the region’s waterways. All respondents have a chance to win a lunch for two at a favorite restaurant of their choice, WaterWealth’s treat.


“All too often, conversations about the economy and the environment are pitted against one another,” said Natalie Jones, Community Organizer with WaterWealth. “From our perspective at WaterWealth, the environment and economy walk hand-in-hand -- we can’t have one without the other. So we need to better understand, as a community, the unique ways that the two interact in our region.”


The survey is an online tool, with a series of questions about the strengths and health of the local economy; points of pride that business owners hold for their enterprise and community;  in what unique ways different businesses rely on local waterways; and overall opinions of the business community when it comes to issues that affect our home waters.


“It may seem surprising to launch this survey on Earth Day, but we think it is a perfect opportunity to outreach to businesses, what with water and the environment being such an integral part of so many local businesses’ identity -- from agriculture to sport fishing and beyond,” explains Sheila Muxlow, Director of WaterWealth. “We’re really excited to hear from a vast array of respondents. Even beyond the obvious water-reliant businesses in our community, all businesses rely on water in one way or another and we think it is important to hear from them.”


WaterWealth will be doing direct outreach to as many local businesses as possible, including using iPads and visiting business on Earth Day, but is also inviting business owners and associations to complete and help promote the survey through their website link: The survey will run from April 22nd to May 22nd.


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For interviews, please contact:

Sheila Muxlow: [email protected], 604-751-0172

Natalie Jones: [email protected], 604-798-8990





March 19, 2014

First Annual 'World Water Day' To Be Celebrated in Fraser Valley

Chilliwack, BC – Ending off a series of community events for Canada Water Week, the WaterWealth Project is hosting the Fraser Valley's first World Water Day celebration on Saturday, March 22nd from 1-2:30 PM at Central Community Park. The local event coincides with the UN designated day to support water awareness events around the world. The United Nations nominated the theme of ‘Water & Energy’ for this year’s World Water Day supporting a closer look at the water-energy nexus and the inequities in access to clean drinking water and sustainable energy sources, as well as the policies and frameworks that affect energy security and sustainable water use in the economy. WaterWealth will be hosting a number of local speakers, singer-songwriters and artists to celebrate the value of healthy, clean and flowing local waterways and the issues that threaten to undermine the Valley's unique water wealth.

“The Fraser Valley is one of the luckiest places in the world when it comes to fresh clean water, yet often times it is easy to take it for granted,” comments Sheila Muxlow, Director with the WaterWealth Project. “World Water Day is an opportunity to show that our community cares about protecting our local water wealth and ensure that decision makers are clear about their responsibility to prioritize the care of our home waters.”

“Although lucky in the world, the Fraser Valley is not free from the complications of the water – energy nexus,” adds Natalie Jones, WaterWealth Community Organizer. “We have both natural gas and heavy oil pipelines that crisscross our aquifers and rivers along with private power hydro projects slated for nearly every river and stream in the Valley. There is definitely an opportunity for us to join in with the global conversation about how we can identify and support best practices that can make a water- and energy-efficient future a reality.


WHAT:  UN World Water Day Community Celebration - THEME: ‘Water & Energy’


WHERE: Central Community Park, 45951 Victoria Ave


WHEN: Saturday 22nd, 1-2:30 PM


WHAT: Family friendly rally with speakers and live entertainment with large Art Visuals including people in blue lycra suits and an Uber Drop Art Display. Rain or Shine. Participants are invited to wear blue, bring signs and show their WATER PRIDE!


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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:


Natalie Jones: 604-798-8990, [email protected]

Sheila Muxlow: 604-751-0172, [email protected]



MEDIA COMMENT: March 12th, 2014


Sheila Muxlow, Director with the WaterWealth Project had the following to say on the submission of Bill 18, Water Sustainability Act, to the BC Legislature:

"After more than 100yrs, it is encouraging to see the B.C. government respond to public concern over fresh water by introducing the new B.C. Water Sustainability Act. We are pleased to see that B.C. will finally regulate the use of groundwater and recognize that sufficient environmental flows are essential to the well-being of communities throughout the province. However, this Act is still only a broad framework and the government has decided to defer many of the details to future regulations. It is critical that BC residents stay engaged in the process to ensure that the legislation has some teeth and isn’t another false dawn.

One aspect we are disappointed with is the failure to adequately recognize First Nations rights and title. Moving forward, it is clear that any efforts to govern water must involve leadership from First Nations who have been stewards of fresh water in this province for thousands of years.

We also know that the government lacks the resources and internal capacity to implement and enforce this Act. It is absolutely essential that the government reform the pricing of industrial water use in B.C. to ensure that large corporations like Nestle are no longer taking us for a ride and that water is being used sustainably. British Columbians have until April 8th to comment on principles for water pricing and we will be working with local communities in the Fraser Valley to ensure that their voices are heard.

The timing of this legislation coincides with Canada Water Week which runs March 17th to 23rd and World Water Day on March 22nd. In the Fraser Valley, the WaterWealth Project is hosting a number of events for people to get to know their home waters - we will be sure to include information on Bill 18 and the importance of speaking up for robust water protection. We have a lot to be proud of in B.C., including some of the most beautiful and productive rivers, lakes and streams in the world. By pushing for world-class legislation to protect water we have an opportunity to keep things that way."





March 10, 2014


WaterWealth Project invites Fraser Valley residents to celebrate Canada Water Week at local events


Chilliwack, BC - WaterWealth Project is hosting several local events for Fraser Valley residents to celebrate their home waters during Canada Water Week, happening March 17-22.  Canada Water Week is an annual coast-to-coast-to-coast event to celebrate and educate about the freshwater systems that all Canadians rely on. It happens the third week of every year, to coincide with the United Nations’ World Water Day. This is the second year that Chilliwack will celebrate the nationwide festivities, as WaterWealth hosted an event last year.


“We’re really excited to bring Canada Water Week to our home town again this year. This is a growing movement that the Fraser Valley naturally fits with because we have such water-rich and water-loving communities,” explains Natalie Jones, Community Organizer with the WaterWealth Project.


The week’s local festivities kick off with the “Get To Know Your Home Waters Walk” along the Vedder River near Peach Ponds with local experts on Monday the 17th at 11 AM, and conclude with the “World Water Day Community Celebration” with the UN nominated theme of ‘Water & Energy’ in Central Community Park on Saturday the 22nd at 1 PM.  In between there is a film night showcasing the Edward Burtynsky’s award-winning new film Watermark, a Water Champion’s community café and forum, and a pub night at Major Leagues.

“In the Fraser Valley, we just have so much water wealth to celebrate and take care of, so events like this are a great way for the community to get together and have fun while also building the knowledge, relationships, and passion necessary to care for the waters we all need to keep protected for the long term,” comments Sheila Muxlow, WaterWealth’s Director.


This years media sponsor is StarFM. Other support for the events provided through generous contributions from local donors, the Real Estate Foundation of BC, Patagonia and Van City.


WaterWealth’s Canada Water Week events include:


Monday March 17th, 11am - 1 PM

Get To Know Your Home Waters Walk

Meet @ Vedder Rotary Trail parking lot at the south end of Peach Rd.

Family friendly, wear good walking shoes, dress for the weather, cancelled in the event of *heavy* rain (call to confirm with Natalie if any doubt, 604-798-8990).


Monday March 17th, 6:30 - 8:30 PM

A Watery Film Night: "Watermark"

Bldg 10 - 7201 Vedder Rd. (Sto:lo Research and Resource Management Center)

Family friendly, light refreshments provided, wheelchair accessible venue, newly released and award winning film from Edward Burtynsky.


Wednesday March 19th, 7-9 PM

Water Champions Cafe

Sardis Secondary School (TBC), 45460 Stevenson Rd.

Childcare available (please confirm your family's need w/ Natalie, 604-798-8990), light refreshments provided, wheelchair accessible venue.


Friday March 21st, 4-9 PM

Wet Your Whistle Happy Hour(s) + Pub Night

Major League Pub, 45768 Gaetz St

Art raffle, info tables w/ many water-focused community organizations, $1 from all drinks sold between 6-9 pm (excluding specials) goes to support WaterWealth.


Saturday 22nd, 1-2:30 PM

World Water Day Community Celebration - THEME: ‘Water & Energy’

Central Community Park, 45951 Victoria Ave

Family friendly, live entertainment, rain or shine, wear blue, bring signs and show your WATER PRIDE!


Complete event listing and details can be found at or on Facebook at


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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:


Natalie Jones: 604-798-8990, [email protected]

Sheila Muxlow: 604-751-0172, [email protected]




MEDIA RELEASE: January 15, 2014


WaterWealth Project Home Waters Campaign takes off with Indiegogo Crowd Sourcing


Chilliwack, BC – Merely 10 months ago the WaterWealth Project opened its doors to embark on a challenge to ensure the home waters of the Fraser Valley gained the protection they deserved through 100% community control over the decisions that impact on the local waterways. The organization has been successful at raising the profile of different water-based issues and supporting community members to engage within the decision-making processes available to them. Now the community based project is seeking funds to support its goals for 2014 through an innovative approach called crowd-sourcing.


Using a popular website called Indiegogo, the WaterWealth Project has launched a short video outlining the value of the Valley's waters and their plan to ensure the residents who call this place home have the right to say 'yes' or 'no' to decisions that impact them. The Indiegogo campaign titled “The Home Waters Campaign: Uniting for Local Control” will run until February 7th, 2014. Interested people can check out the video and make a donation by visiting


WaterWealth has done a fantastic job of raising the profile of water issues in BC.  We have a number of lines out, but one issue we’ve got a hook into that I’m particularly excited about is the new Water Sustainability Act (WSA). We are keen to continue engaging on the WSA through the Review Committee, the Legislature and development of regulations” explains Ian Stephen of the WaterWealth Project. “The new Act opens up great opportunities for better water stewardship and local control.  Through relationships in the community, the political arena, and with top Canadian water policy minds, we are excited for the potential to make BC a leader in caring for our shared water wealth and to set behind us the whack-a-mole approach to dealing reactively to individual threats to water as they pop up.”


Natalie Jones, community organizer with WaterWealth adds, “It has been an incredibly energizing 10 months so far as the community has really rallied around our vision and our practical efforts. Support has grown fast, and the level of passion, skill, and optimism coming from our volunteers is enlivening. It is a real blessing to be part of such an initiative, and every day brings more exciting opportunities to share this project with others who in turn are inspired to learn about it.”


WaterWealth is looking to raise $10,000 dollars through the Indiegogo campaign to support its community engagement efforts. If successful, this will allow WaterWealth to support two dedicated local organizers, Natalie Jones and Ian Stephen, to work with a team of volunteers to meet and talk with local residents throughout the Fraser Valley to hear their concerns and hopes for the water wealth in this region. Every dollar raised will go towards ensuring a community member’s voice is heard and to build more capacityfor those of us who call this place home to have the right to say 'yes' or 'no' to projects that affect us.    


To conclude the crowd-sourced campaign, WaterWealth has teamed up with Major League 2 pub to host a celebration event on Friday, February 7th. Everyone is welcome to attend, however donors through the Indiegogo campaign will receive a complementary drink or dinner ticket.

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For more information or to arrange interviews


Ian Stephen, Community Organizer, 604-791-0226

Natalie Jones, Community Organizer, 604-798-8990




MEDIA COMMENTS: Sheila Muxlow, WaterWealth Campaign Director, and Larry Commodore, WaterWealth Community Advisor had the following comments to offer regarding the Opinion Editorial on BC's Water Sustainability Act put out by Environment Minister Mary Polak on Friday, September 6th, 2013

Comments from Sheila Muxlow below:

“We are encouraged to see that the government is taking its commitment to pass a new Water Act seriously and that regulating groundwater will be a key component of this reform. However, Polak's opinion piece still leaves many unanswered questions around the broader failures of water law in the province.

It is very clear that residents of British Columbia are deeply shocked at the lack of legal protection for our water resources and that they expect strong laws to prevent our aquifers, rivers and lakes being abused. These laws need to include minimum standards for river flows, water protected as a public trust, and Aboriginal rights embedded in policy.

With the rapid development of multinational industrial projects like Nestle’s bottled-water plant, the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipeline proposals, natural gas fracking and private hydro diversions, it is essential that our water laws catch up quickly to prevent further damage to our region’s water wealth. We agree with Minister Polak that government is only part of the solution but it is unfair to challenge the citizens of BC to play their part when we have so little influence over provincial decisions affecting the health of our rivers, lakes and aquifers.  Will the provincial government give our local communities a stronger say in the decisions that are affecting our local home waters?  

Yes, the commitments from Minister Polak are encouraging, but there still is much work to be done.”

Comments from Larry Commodore below: 

“It is good to see the BC Government respond to the clear concerns raised about water law in this province, however it is clear that there is still a gap in their appreciation for the essential role that Aboriginal rights & title have to play.  First Nations are the original title holders to water and thus have legal rights that differ from other stakeholders. I’m not saying it will be an easy process, but we need to move forward and strengthen the relationships between Native and Non-Native people to ensure water is protected for the long term. An essential part of this involves the BC government upholding its responsibility to ensure the recognition and reconciliation of Aboriginal Rights & Title are embedded in the legislation of any water law reform, not just have our 'unique perspectives' tokenized with rhetoric.”

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For more info or interviews:

Sheila Muxlow, Campaign Director, WaterWealth Project, 604-751-0172

Larry Commodore, Community Advisor, WaterWealth Project, 604-703-2984



Lax water laws in BC highlights need for recognition of Aboriginal Rights & Title.

Chilliwack, BC, Sto:lo Territory -- There has been a lot of attention in recent weeks on BC's Water Act as the story broke about Nestle Waters' cost-free extraction of millions of litres of groundwater from the region known as Hope, BC. Not mentioned in the coverage to date is how Nestle operates on the traditional territory of the Chawathil First Nation; without compensation or consultation and without heed to the concerns of the Chawathil people.

"It’s no different than the way business has been done in this province since Europeans first arrived; but its time 'business-as-usual' practices change, because they're not working for our community and its fundamentally unlawful," stated Rhoda Peters, elected Chief of Chawathil First Nation. "We are not anti-business, but we want to see business operate in a way that respects our rights and ensures that our community is benefiting from the use of our lands and waters. Right now there is an opportunity for the provincial government to step up and do the right thing; to change what 'business-as-usual' looks like."

Aboriginal Rights and Title are a core piece of the Canadian constitution, and yet under the BC Water Act First Nations rights are not recognized and their expertise on a local level is often disregarded. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) have been at the forefront in advocating for the due respect and recognition of First Nations Rights and Title in BC.  

“We as Indigenous Peoples have rights and a sacred responsibility to protect water for our people today and for the generations that follow,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “It is completely unacceptable for Nestle to remove water from Sto:lo Territory for free and without any consideration and consultation with the affected First Nations, particularly Chawathil First Nation.  This issue certainly highlights the overarching failures and serious deficiencies of the provincial water management system, in particular the obvious lack of recognition of Chawathil’s constitutionally-protected Title and Rights to their territories and resources.  UBCIC fully supports the Chawathil First Nation and the continued call by First Nations for the Province to step up and meaningfully engage and consult with First Nations on water management issues.”

The WaterWealth Project out of Chilliwack, BC is another organization calling for an overhaul of the BC Water Act.  

"To bring water legislation in BC into the 21st century, recognition and reconciliation of Aboriginal Rights & Title is essential, but it also offers an opportunity for wide-spread benefit to all people who call this region home.” explained Larry Commodore, two-time Chief of the Soowahlie First Nation and Community Advisor to the WaterWealth Project. "First Nations can provide traditional ecological knowledge stemming from the generations of stewardship over our home waters. A step in the right direction for the BC government should be to establish regional watershed authorities, similar to the Cowichan Watershed Board, providing a solution for First Nations and local governments to work together for mutual benefits.”

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For more information or to arrange interviews:

Rhoda Peters, Chief, Chawathil First Nation, 604-869-9994

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, UBCIC,  250-490-5314

Larry Commodore, Community Adviser, WaterWealth Project, 604-703-2984

Additional Information:

UBCIC Submission to BC Water Act Modernization Initiative




Free Groundwater for Nestle raises questions about local community control over water resources.

Chilliwack, BC, August 19, 2013 – For more than 13 years, Nestle - the World's largest food corporation – has been selling off groundwater from the Fraser Valley and not paying a cent for it.   Nestle draws more than 260 million litres annually from the City of Hope's drinking source, marketing it for approximately $1.19 per litre. While Nestle is making untold millions by selling a raw resource – precious fresh water - back to us and to markets south of the border, they do not pay the province, municipalities, nor First Nations a cent in royalties.

"The question is, where are our elected leaders in all this?" asks Sheila Muxlow, Campaign Director of the WaterWealth Project.  “Many residents in BC are surprised to learn that a billion dollar multinational like Nestle is permitted to enrich itself from this most precious natural resource without paying a cent.  BC is evidently open for business; but when it comes to water, there is no one minding the store.”

"However, Nestle's water grab in Hope, BC is one of the many free water give-aways," notes Muxlow. "Whether groundwater is being bottled by water companies like Whistler Water in Pemberton, or contaminated by mining operations like Talisman natural gas fracking in the Peace River region, big business is able to line their pockets by diminishing community water resources.”

A major problem lies with the 104 year old piece of legislation that governs BC’s water resources. In addition to a complete absence of ground water regulation, the BC Water Act fails to ensure adequate science and local expertise to guarantee decisions about water are made responsibly. Another major problem is the lack of recognition and reconciliation of Aboriginal Rights & Title.

There are many issues of water management that need to be addressed, not the least of which is how the provincial government has felt entitled to give away access to our water in the first place,” comments Larry Commodore, two-time Chief of the Soowahlie First Nation and Community Adviser to the WaterWealth Project. “We are not the only region with this type of water exploitation, but with the attention on Nestle and bottled water, people from all over the country will be watching the Fraser Valley to see our response.  The people who live here and call this place home, have an opportunity to lead the way in calling for local control over water and to ensure proper management of our shared water wealth now and for future generations to come.”

The WaterWealth Project has been organizing out of Chilliwack, BC and calling for an overhaul of the BC Water Act to bring it into the 21st century. They advocate for reform to water law that respects Aboriginal Rights & Title, supports 100% community control over decisions that impact on regional waters, and demands strong safeguards for water from contamination, pollution and diversions.

Fresh water is our most precious natural asset, flowing through all living things and essential to our survival.  As long as we can care for our shared water wealth, together we will always prosper and our children will always have a home to return to,” urges Muxlow. “We, the people who live here, currently have little say in the decisions that affect the wealth of pure and flowing waters. At the WaterWealth Project we are working to change this, and we are asking our community to work with us to achieve this change.”

The WaterWealth Project urges people to visit their website at and consider volunteering and donating to the initiative.

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For more information or to arrange interviews:


Sheila Muxlow, Campaign Director, 604-751-0172

Larry Commodore, Community Adviser, 604-703-2984 | |


The WaterWealth Project issues candidate Report Card on Home Waters 

BC election hopefuls rated on commitment to protection of lakes, rivers streams and groundwater in Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Hope ridings 

Chilliwack, BC, May 8, 2013 – Voters in the Fraser Valley will be able to cast their votes for the candidates who pledge to do the most to protect our home waters using a new report card developed by the WaterWealth Project.

“The good news is that most of the candidates identified water as a priority in their ridings”, said WaterWealth Project Campaign Director Sheila Muxlow. “We were also encouraged that every candidate supported a new Water Act. However, their other responses are very different in terms of commitments and actions. The report card shows voters where each candidate stands on the protection of the lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater we all enjoy and depend on.” 

The WaterWealth Project sent all nine candidates in both ridings a questionnaire.  Those that replied were evaluated based on their responses, transcripts from the WaterWealth All Candidates’ Conversation, and the candidates’ party platforms.

Candidates were evaluated on four categories: Commitment to Protecting our Water, Accountability to our Communities, Positions on Various Threats to our Home Waters, and Proposed Solutions.  Key topics included legislation to protect drinking water, the recognition of Aboriginal Rights & Title, and governance models that ensure community consent in development decisions impacting home waters. 

“After a careful evaluation of candidate positions and party platforms by our advisory committee, the NDP and Green Party came out on top,” said Muxlow. “Chilliwack Conservative candidate Chad Eros also shows promise, and took the time to research and promote successful watershed governance models from other regions.  Water, however, is notably absent from the BC Conservative platform. Chilliwack Excalibur candidate Michael Halliday is also very clear about his commitment to the values of freshwater protection, but lacks concrete and actionable steps forward."

“Unfortunately, the Liberal Candidates did not score as highly as we hoped”, continued Muxlow. “The fact that Throness was not able to commit to water as a priority, and the overall failure by both Liberal candidates to recognize the deficiencies in the BC Treaty Process and our environmental assessment regime left them with the lowest grade.  Other concerns relate to the Liberals promotion of natural gas fracking as a source of future green jobs and their willingness to keep decision making authority on pipelines vested in Ottawa.”

The WaterWealth Project has been garnering support for their declaration calling for better fresh water protection and will be sending the report card out to their supporters. The WaterWealth Candidate Report Card is also available to the public online at

WaterWealth is hosting a ‘Fraser Valley Votes –Instant Rally for Democracy’ at 4 pm on May 11th at the Chilliwack Law Courts inviting all community members to join in a fun and artsy event encouraging people to Get Out and Vote on May 14th.





For more information:


Sheila Muxlow, Campaign Director, 604-751-0172, [email protected]


Tamara Herman, Communications, 604-880-7860, [email protected] | |




Media Advisory

- For Immediate Release -


WaterWealth connects with other community groups to inspire Fraser Valley to vote in May 14th election

May 6, 2013, 2013, Chilliwack, BC – The WaterWealth Project is inviting community members, businesses and associations to bring art, costumes and signs that show what issues are inspiring them to vote in the upcoming election to a public “Flash Mob” rally on Saturday.

WaterWealth’s contribution to the activity will be the ‘Uberdrop.’ Community members are invited to walk with umbrella-sized cardboard water drops – provided by WaterWealth – in the shape of a giant raindrop. Aerial photographs will be taken. Other organizations have been invited to bring creative representations of their election issues to the event.

“The WaterWealth Project has been working hard to make water visible this election season’”, said WaterWealth Project Community Organizer Natalie Jones. “The Uberdrop is a fun way of inspiring voters to support candidates who are committed to protecting our home waters. But we also recognize that there are many other issues that inspire people to get engaged come election season. That’s why we’re inviting groups and individuals to bring their own art, costumes and visuals on Saturday.”

Later this week, the WaterWealth Project will issue a candidates’ report card that evaluates the fresh water protection policies and positions of election hopefuls in the Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Hope ridings. The WaterWealth Declaration, launched as the writ was dropped, has garnered almost 1500 signatures so far. It is available online at


DATE: Saturday, May 11th, 2013

TIME: 4 pm

STARTING POINT: Near “5 corners” in downtown Chilliwack, at the Chilliwack Law Courts

VISUALS: Uberdrop, costumes, signs, art

To see the Uberdrop in action:



For more information and interviews:

Sheila Muxlow, Campaign Director, 604-751-0172, [email protected]

Tamara Herman, Communications, 604-880-7860, [email protected]



Press Release - For Immediate Release

WaterWealth puts Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Hope candidates in the “hot-water” seat

Question of community control flows through debate on gravel mining, Kinder Morgan Pipeline and Private Power Projects

Chilliwack, BC, May 1, 2013 – Over 120 people attended an informative and lively All-Candidates Conversation on water issues at the Sto:lo Resource Centre on Tuesday night, with many more watching the event on live-stream. John Martin, Liberal candidate for Chilliwack, was the only one of nine political hopefuls who failed to show.

The event was opened with a question from Sto:lo leader Kat Pennier. Over the course of the evening, both local voters and event moderators, pollster Angus McAllister and journalist Kai Negata, put the eight candidates in attendance to the test. Candidates faced off with dozens of questions on Aboriginal rights and title, green jobs, water legislation, fish farms, gravel mining, the Kinder Morgan Pipeline, and private power projects.

The conversation touched on problems with how decisions about industrial developments that impact our home waters are made, along with whether and/or how the province would support alternatives.

“The issue is not allowing corporate greed to call the shots on the environment”, stated BC Conservative Candidate Michael Henshall. “I’m prepared to fight to see the resources retained for the benefit of the people of this province.”

“We’re going to utilize the carbon tax as it’s supposed to be utilized, for transport and green energy,” said Gwen O’Mahony, incumbent NDP Candidate for Chilliwack-Hope. “Not as a corporate subsidy for oil and gas.”

“Some interests are put before others right now”, stated Patti Macahonic. “Our environmental assessment framework has been gutted. I’ve seen things being done that are not in our interest, and will never be in our interest.  They’re being done in vested, corporate interests.”

The conversation became heated when the audience asked candidates to explain how they would create green jobs locally.

“I can point out an industry that exists right now, and it’s the natural gas industry”, said Liberal Candidate Laurie Throness.  “For instance, IMW in Chilliwack produces natural gas compressor machines for service stations in China that replace dirtier fuels. Natural gas is a far greener alternative than the oil industry”.

Kim Reimer questioned Throness’ take on natural gas as a green job, moving the debate to Kinder Morgan.

“I think that diluted bitumen is something we need to address. It’s an environmental issue, an accident waiting to happen”, said BC Conservative candidate Michael Henshall.  “So in regard to diluted bitumen going through any existing pipelines or future pipelines, I think that that needs to be refined. Refined in BC.”

Other areas of difference included the role of the province in enforcing baseline water protection standards that all local communities would be required to meet, as well as its role in supporting local water authorities with resources and information. Candidates debated different models of community-guided decision-making that could work in the Fraser Valley.

“In all questions, an important discussion emerged around water governance, and the meaning of community control over decisions affecting our home waters”, said Campaign Director Sheila Muxlow. “Candidates differed vastly in their understanding of how local control might work”. 

"The problem with water is that it tends to flow”, said Laurie Throness, Liberal Candidate for Chilliwack-Hope. “A decision made in one community could negatively impact another. The delegation of authority to a board is necessary.”

“I think the question comes to consultation”, said Patti Macahonic, NDP Candidate for Chilliwack. “What Laurie said about putting groups together is important.  The Liberals have failed miserably to bring everyone to the table.”

“A local water authority is necessary, but its role would need to be hashed out and we’d have to hold the provincial government accountable while making sure the community is consulted”, replied Chilliwack Green Party candidate Kim Reimer. “It would have to include First Nations, scientists and average, everyday people. Because it affects us all.”

Chilliwack BC Conservative Candidate Chad Eros weighed in on the discussion, stating: “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Watershed authorities already exist around world. Good ones do involve the community and bring stakeholders together to raise issues and consult with them.”

After reviewing the deficiencies in the current 100 year-old Water Act, the moderators questioned the candidates on their proposals for strengthening water protection legislation.

“With this Act, water is doled out on a first come first served basis”, said Reimer. “We have a Nestle water bottling plant in Hope. Right now, the water bottling plant would have more rights to water than any new residences. They’d be able to sell water while we have nothing left. This is a big thing that needs to change.”

“To redo any Act, we’d have to see where we’re failing, and then envision a new one. That can only be done if we include all community members, including settlers and indigenous peoples”, said Michael Halliday, leader of the BC Excalibur Party and candidate for Chilliwack. “Water is a precious commodity."

“We’ve got to watch the environment, because when it’s gone, it’s gone”, said Independent Candidate for Chilliwack-Hope, Ryan MacKinnon.

The WaterWealth Project generated a crowd-sourced word cloud of the debate’s themes, which is attached. The livestream will be available on the WaterWealth Project website this week.



For more information, more content and citations, and interviews:

Sheila Muxlow, Campaign Director, 604-751-0172, [email protected]

Tamara Herman, Communications, 604-880-7860, [email protected]


Media Advisory

- For Immediate Release -


Candidates’ positions on fresh water protection to be put to the test at WaterWealth Project event

April 23, 2013, Chilliwack, BC – The WaterWealth Project is hosting a public conversation with all B.C. election candidates for the Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Hope ridings on critical water protection issues. Candidates will be asked where they stand on issues that impact our water wealth and how they plan to safeguard our home waters.

The WaterWealth campaign has been gaining momentum as its Declaration, which advocates for more community control over decisions that impact our home waters and stronger water protection legislation, approaches 1,000 signatures.

“In just one week, almost 1,000 people have pledged to vote to protect their home waters”, said WaterWealth Campaign Director Sheila Muxlow. “Water is making a splash during this election because so much is at stake in the next four years. The representatives that will head to Victoria will be involved in major decisions that impact our home waters, and we want them going into office knowing how important water is to their constituents.”

The WaterWealth Project is also asking election hopefuls to sign the Declaration following the all-candidates’ conversation. The Declaration is available to sign online at The election is May 14th, 2013.

All the candidates for Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Hope have been invited. All have confirmed expect Chilliwack Liberal candidate John Martin.



Date: Tuesday, April 30

Time: 6 pm

Location: Building 10, Stó:lō Nation Resource Centre, Stó:lō Nation, 7201 Vedder Road, Chilliwack, V2R 4G5

Event livestream:


For more information and interviews:

Sheila Muxlow, Campaign Director, 604-751-0172, [email protected]

Tamara Herman, Communications, 604-880-7860, [email protected]



Media Release

- For Immediate Release -

WaterWealth Declaration puts Election Candidates to the Test

Citizens to vote for candidates that commit to protecting our water

Chilliwack, BC, April 15, 2013 – Today, the WaterWealth Project officially released the WaterWealth Declaration, a citizen pledge that asks the political candidates of the Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Hope ridings to take a strong stance on protecting the waters of the Fraser Valley.

Over the past several weeks, the WaterWealth Project team has spoken with hundreds of local residents throughout this region, listening keenly to what they care about and what concerns them.

“In talking with local residents, we were overwhelmed by the enormous sense of community pride that exists in the living rivers, lakes and streams that flow throughput the Valley,” said Sheila Muxlow, Director of the WaterWealth Project. “We also heard about a lot of real concerns. People feel our water quality is not what it used to be and are fearful of what will happen to our home waters unless more is done to protect them.  These shared values and concerns directly informed the language of the Declaration.”

Citizens who sign the Declaration affirm their support for 100% community control over decisions that impact home waters. They pledge to vote for the candidate who promises to do the most to protect lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater.

“We’re going back to the community and asking for signatures with a passionate team of local volunteers. We’re knocking on neighbourhood doors, setting up information kiosques at popular community hangouts and connecting through Facebook and Twitter”, said the WaterWealth Project’s Laura Cameron. “We’ll also be formally asking all the candidates to sign the Declaration.  On May 15th, we’ll present the winning candidates the signed Declarations to deliver a clear message: People in the Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Hope ridings care about their home waters and will hold elected representatives accountable.”

Community members will also have a chance to hear their candidates’ position on issues that relate to water at an all-candidates’ discussion organized by the WaterWealth Project on April 30th at 6 pm the Stó:lō Nation at 7201 Vedder Road, Chilliwack. In the days after the event, the campaign will issue graded report cards on each candidate’s positions on water.

The WaterWealth project, a non-partisan and non-profit organization, is actively seeking volunteers to join its energetic team in reaching out to as many people as possible in the lead up to the provincial election.

“We have an open invite to anyone who wants to join our efforts. This is a true community-drive initiative and we’re really excited that so many local residents want to be involved,” said Cameron.

Community members are invited to sign the Declaration online at  Information on volunteer opportunities the Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday Volunteer Blitzes and other Declaration-signing events can be found online or by phoning 604-858-8021.


For more information, background report on survey results and interviews:

Sheila Muxlow, Campaign Director, 604-751-0172, [email protected]

Tamara Herman, Communications, 604-880-7860, [email protected]


Media Advisory

- For Immediate Release -

March 18-25: WaterWealth Project brings Canada Water Week to Fraser Valley

New campaign hosts series of events and community mapping sessions for week-long water celebration

 March 13, 2013, Chilliwack, BC – The WaterWealth Project is celebrating Canada Water Week with a series of events and activities throughout the region.  A campaign that aims to protect local rivers, lakes and groundwater, the WaterWealth Project is advocating for community control over home waters.

“The WaterWealth Project is joining with communities across Canada in planning a week-long celebration of water to coincide with World Water Day on March 22nd,” said Campaign Director Sheila Muxlow. “Local residents have been organizing on a daily basis to protect our home waters from threats like gravel mining, fish farms and the transportation of heavy oil. Water week is the opportunity to celebrate these efforts and flex the strength we have as a constituency that cares about fresh water.”

To mark the nation-wide celebration of water, WaterWealth is hosting educational film screenings in Chilliwack and an evening celebration in Hope. The campaign is also rolling out new mobile engagement technologies, such as a community mapping project to better understand what matters to people in the valley, their concerns surrounding fresh water, and their thoughts on what is needed to ensure our home waters are protected. Community members are invited to try out the mobile story capture by visiting the WaterWealth website, and attending the public office hours. Community mapping blitzes will also be held in a number of public places throughout the Fraser Valley over the course of Canada Water Week.



 Monday, March 18, 2013 at 6:30 pm: Screening of “Salmon Confidential” and Community DiscussionThe WaterWealth Project Office, 45668 Storey Avenue, Chilliwack, B.C. Wednesday, March 20 at 6:30 pm: Screening of “Last Call at the Oasis” and Community DiscussionThe WaterWealth Project Office, 45668 Storey Avenue, Chilliwack, B.C. Friday, March 22 at 5:00 pm: "Community Celebration of World Water Day" The Hope Station, Hope, B.C. (Junction of Hwy #1 and Hwy #3). 



Tuesday, March 19, Wednesday, March 20 and Friday, March 22 from 12:00 pm – 6:00 pmDrop-In Community Mapping: Public WelcomeThe WaterWealth Project Office, 45668 Storey Avenue, Chilliwack, B.C. Friday, March 22 from 11:00 pm to 4:00 pm (weather permitting)Chilliwack-Vedder River (Rotary Trail), Chilliwack, B.C. Saturday, March 23 from 10:00 am – 3:00 pmSpring Market, 615 Wellington Ave., Chilliwack, B.C. Saturday, March 23 from 1:00 pm – 2:30 pmStar FM Free Skate, Prospera Center, Chilliwack, B.C. 




For more information and interviews:

Sheila Muxlow, Campaign Director, 604-751-0172, [email protected]

Tamara Herman, Communications, 604-880-7860, [email protected]||


Press Release

For Immediate Release


WaterWealth Project Launches in Chilliwack


New campaign for 100% community control local home waters opens its doors


 Chilliwack, BC, March 2, 2013 – The WaterWealth Project opened its doors in the Fraser Valley this weekend with a campaign launch party. Brought together by a shared drive to protect the wealth in the rivers, lakes and groundwater of the Fraser Valley, the project team and volunteers met with a large group of interested community members.

“Water brings our communities together. There is a growing recognition among citizens of the Fraser Valley that there is an urgent need to protect the wealth within the rivers, lakes and groundwater that make our region so rich and unique” said Campaign Director Sheila Muxlow. “Yet decisions about developments that threaten to contaminate our home waters are being made in Victoria or Ottawa with little or no involvement of affected communities or recognition of the rights of local First Nations. The WaterWealth Project is about protecting our home waters by ensuring that people who are most directly impacted have the right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to proposals that impact them.” 

The launch was held at the initiative’s newly-opened Chilliwack office and began with a welcome from Stó:lō Elder Eddie Gardner. It was supported with donations from Hofstede’s Barn, Greendale Meats, Sardis Bakery, Decades Coffee and Save-On-Foods.  The WaterWealth team briefed a crowd of nearly 100 people on the campaign goals and introduced the cutting-edge technologies and tools that will be rolled out in the coming weeks. Dozens of volunteers signed up for the campaign.

“The water wealth of this region is what sets it apart,” explained Larry Commodore, Community Advisor and member of the Soowahlie Nation. “But we’re facing urgent threats. The Kinder Morgan pipeline, mining gravel straight from the Fraser, urban expansion and intensive industrial agriculture are all jeopardizing our water.  We need to come together, find common solutions and ensure our shared home waters are protected.”

The WaterWealth Project has already hit social media, and will bring some of the most innovative community engagement tools to communities from Yale to Chilliwack. “Through such tools, and community organizing techniques, we hope to amplify the work of existing water stewardship groups and highlight and promote alliance-building between these groups and First Nations,” said Muxlow.  “We all stand to benefit from ensuring that Indigenous rights and sovereignty are upheld and that we protect our shared home waters now and for the generations to come.”



For more information and interviews:

Sheila Muxlow, Campaign Director, 604-751-0172, [email protected]

Tamara Herman, Communications, 604-880-7860, [email protected]

Photos available for media use||





Media Advisory

For Immediate Release

March 2nd: WaterWealth Project Launch Party to be held in Chilliwack

New campaign to protect fresh water in Fraser Valley area gains momentum 

February 27, 2013, Chilliwack, BC - A new citizen-driven campaign to protect the wealth in the rivers, lakes and groundwater of the Fraser Valley against imminent threats will hold an official launch this weekend. The WaterWealth Project will bring new cutting-edge technologies and approaches to mobilize political change over the course of its spring campaign. With a goal of giving local communities the right to say “yes” or “no” to decisions that affect their home waters, support for the WaterWealth Project is already growing across social media networks. The Launch Party will bring community members together to meet the WaterWealth team and get the inside scoop on the campaign’s innovative tools and tactics.


Saturday, March 2nd, 3 pm – 6 pm


The WaterWealth Project Office, 45668 Storey Avenue, Chilliwack, B.C.


2:45 Media interviews

3.00-3.30 Sto:Lo Welcome

3.30-4.00 Special Presentation: Sheila Muxlow, Campaign Director

4.00-5.00 The Inside Scoop on the WaterWealth Mission: Goals, Intel, Tech & Tactics

5.00-6.00 Meet, Greet, Mix & Mingle: A chance to chat & make new friends

Children’s activities will be ongoing throughout the event


For more information and interviews:

Sheila Muxlow, Campaign Director, 604-751-0172, [email protected]

Tamara Herman, Communications, 604-880-7860, [email protected]

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