B.C. water legislation runs shallow: NDP
BC NDP environment critic Spencer Chandra Herbert says new water sustainability act does not protect water reserves. (FILE PHOTO)
British Columbia’s long-awaited water sustainability act does not have the teeth to ease public concerns about companies selling water from the province’s stock, say critics of the legislation.
The bill was tabled Tuesday and updates laws currently a century old in response to public concerns about water resources.
But BC NDP environment critic Spencer Chandra Herbert said the bill is “watered down.”
“To come forward and tell the public, ‘We are now going to charge 85 cents for a million litres of water as opposed to zero cents for a million litres of water,’ is pretty symbolic of the weakness of the act,” Chandra Herbert said. “If that doesn’t say it in terms of high talk and weak follow-through, I don’t know what does.”
He said even bottled water giant Nestle told him they aren’t paying enough for water in B.C., which adds to difficulties raising revenue to enforce the act.
He said another concern is the act doesn’t have enough teeth to protect water reserves, which could hasten the draining of water from streams and lakes, and affect fish habitat.
The act will go into place in 2015 once supporting regulations are finalized.
Nestle’s chariman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe has been embroiled in an ongoing controversy over comments he made in a 2005 interview in which he said he didn’t believe water is a human right.
The comments created a media firestorm, but the company has said they were taken out of context and that Brabeck-Letmathe was supportive of better management of the resource and not advocating for water privatization.
The Ministry of Environment did not respond to a request for a response to Chandra Herbert’s allegations by press time.