Water Cannot be Owned

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

CUPE BC urges members to have their say on historic Water Sustainability Act

As the BC Government seeks public input into the proposed Water Sustainability Act, CUPE BC is calling for our province’s water to be protected as a public trust for generations to come.

“Water is essential to human life and cannot be owned,” said CUPE BC President Mark Hancock. “CUPE BC’s submission on the new proposed legislation reflects our union’s commitment to the environment and public services, as well as our solidarity with First Nations.”

British Columbians were alerted to the failures of the 1909 Water Act when discovering that bottled water corporation Nestlé was extracting billions of litres of water near Hope for free.

“It is obvious this 100 year old legislation needed to be modernized,” said Hancock. “We cannot miss this opportunity now to make sure the new Water Sustainability Act takes into account many future generations who will also depend on our vital water.”

Until November 15th the BC Government is seeking feedback on the proposed Water Sustainability Act. CUPE BC is working with dozens of environmental non-governmental organizations to provide input into this historic policy. CUPE BC is calling for public policy and regulation that encourages the development of local economies, ensures public control and accountability, protects the environment, and explicitly prohibits the creation or growth of water markets.

“It is not enough to charge private water companies a mere 85 cents for every 1000 cubic meters of ground water,” said Hancock. “We must have legislation that provides full cost recovery reflecting the true value of this precious resource.”

Further, CUPE BC states the new Act must address water use in other sectors, including oil, gas, mining and power production. It must ensure other Acts do not have supremacy over the principle of public trust that must be enshrined in the legislation.

"If BC wants to make history with this new Act then let’s work together to create legislation that will be celebrated by our grandchildren’s grandchildren,” added Hancock. “Let’s recognize water as a human right.”

CUPE BC urges all of its 85,000 members to provide input into the new Water Sustainability Act. Members are encouraged to write their local MLA as well as submit feedback to the BC Ministry of Environment, by visiting http://engage.gov.bc.ca/watersustainabilityact/