Imagine a business where you get your raw material for free, package it and sell it to the people who thought they owned it. Nestlé Waters Canada has just such a business.
The world’s largest bottled-water company is pumping 265 million litres of water a year from a well in the Fraser Valley, putting it in bottles and selling it all over Western Canada. It’s legal because B.C. has no regulations covering groundwater. We are the only province without such regulations.
The provincial government plans to include rules in a new Water Sustainability Act next year. Previous governments have made similar promises, but this time, it’s important to make it happen.
B.C.’s Water Act was created in 1909, and it’s hopelessly out of date. In those days, no one could have imagined running out of water on the Wet Coast of Canada.
Today, we realize that our wonderfully clean drinking water is a resource that is envied by much of the world. It can be polluted and it can be wasted. Visitors from places like California are flabbergasted by our profligacy with water.
To manage it properly, we have to know who is using it and how much is being used. We only know about Nestlé’s use because the company releases the figures from its careful monitoring. Other bottled-water companies refuse to give out their numbers.
The provincial government has to get a grip on this resource, which is likely to become one of the most valuable in the world in coming decades. Nestlé shouldn’t know more about our water than we do.
We have to stop treating the Earth as if it were a magic pitcher, pouring a never-ending supply of water.
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