We cannot afford water privatization




Water problems have begun, increasingly, to show up in our part of the Cariboo. 

The situation at Chimney Lake is serious. 

And closer to the city, the residents of Woodland Drive have been faced with shortages as the water table declines.

If we get our water from a well, a watercourse, a community water system, or from the City of Williams Lake’s aquifer we have reason to be concerned at this time.

The Province of B.C. has a proposed a new Water Sustainability Act as the next phase of Water Act “modernization.” 

We can find information about this proposed act at http//blog.gov.bc.ca/livingwatersmart/. 

Every water user should visit this government site and respond to the proposals. One of these proposals, in section 5, is that “a well-designed market can provide flexibility that allows water to be shifted to other users or uses.” 

This introduces the possibility that it may be the user who is prepared to pay the most. 

The rich will have unlimited water long after it is scarce for the poor.

This same proposal also states that “A water market can also be restricted to a particular sector such as agriculture where water conserved through efficiency gains or crop changes could be traded across the sector.” 

So if a rancher changes from using irrigation water for alfalfa, who could he possibly trade the water to?

Our provincial government seems prepared to abdicate its responsibility to manage this public resource and turn it over to market forces, which means that it will be a matter of who is able to pay for the water when it becomes scarce.

Randy Christensen, writing in Ecojustice, says that “it’s really no surprise that in the end B.C.’s Water Act ‘modernization’ is just another initiative that pays lip service to protecting the environment and the public interest while delivering the goods to the large corporate interests that have long dominated the province.” 

Corporate interests such as those that have seized the right to large volumes of water for run-of-the-river projects.

Every water user should take the time to go to the website, read the proposals carefully and respond to the bureaucrats before the deadline of Feb. 21.  

We cannot afford to rely on the impulses of government or private enterprise in the matter of water.

John Dressler

Williams Lake