Jan 312019
 

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(“BACKGROUND” revised Feb 6/19)

RESOLUTION TITLE:   “LICENSING OF GROUNDWATER EXTRACTION FOR COMMERCIAL BOTTLING/BULK WATER EXPORT SALES”

Authored by:  Strathcona Director, Brenda Leigh

Passed:  unanimously, by Strathcona Regional District, January 24, 2019.

Scroll down to time-line for NEXT VOTES

Would apply to:   all B.C., if it is supported through the next higher levels of government.

Scroll down to clarifications and local news reports (very bottom).

As submitted to AVICC, Feb. 6, 2019:

SRD SPONSORED RESOLUTION

 

GROUNDWATER EXTRACTION

WHEREAS water is an essential resource upon which all life, including all ecosystems and all local communities depend,

AND WHEREAS water is a public heritage and a public trust for present and future generations and access to water must not be compromised by commercial operations relating to commercial water bottling or commercial bulk water exports,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Premier of British Columbia and the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development be requested to immediately cease the licencing and extraction of groundwater for commercial water bottling and/or bulk water exports from aquifers.

 

BACKGROUND

This issue was brought to light by residents of the Sackville Road area of Merville, BC where a proposed commercial groundwater application was given a “conditional” licence by the BC Government, subject to the applicant obtaining zoning approval for a bottling plant on his property in Merville.  As water in this rural community is supplied through groundwater wells, the local community felt great unease about the potential impact of this commercial operation upon their wells.  Following the public hearing for rezoning for the water bottling plant, the Comox Valley Regional District soundly defeated the proposal.  The proponent then asked the BC Government for an amendment to the issued conditional licence to allow commercial groundwater extraction in Sackville Road to proceed if the applicant was permitted to set up the water bottling plant in the adjacent Strathcona Regional District.

The science of hydrogeology is not definitive.  Aquifers, by their very nature, are hidden resources subject to interpretation of subjective indicators.  The best the experts can do is estimate the volume of the aquifer and the recharge rate. The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNROD) has maintained a groundwater monitoring well #351 in Aquifer 408.  Groundwater levels in this well have shown a stable or slightly increasing trend I the 14-year monitoring period.  This would indicate that current extraction does not exceed recharge.  Is one monitoring well sufficient to determine recharge rates for this aquifer?  Given the reality of climate change and projected hotter, drier summers for Vancouver Island, will this trend continue or will increased extraction through additional licences exceed the recharge rate; putting the existing community which relies on their domestic groundwater wells in jeopardy and, perhaps, also jeopardizing the future of the aquifer?

Clearly, the Provincial Government needs to review the Water Sustainability Act and regulations to cease the issuance of groundwater extraction licences for commercial water bottling and bulk water exports until a careful and comprehensive study of the capacity of aquifer(s) are fully explored to ascertain whether the proposed commercial extraction is sustainable for the future of aquifer(s) and the communities which rely upon them.  It is totally inappropriate to issue these commercial licences in light of ever-increasing Level 4 Drought and unprecedented forest fire risks throughout the Province.  This is not the time to be issuing “First in Time, First in Rights” groundwater extraction licences which treat our water as a commercial commodity and thereby threatens the water security of entire communities and ecosystems that depend upon them.

Local communities, through their local governments need to be referred on commercial groundwater licence applications BEFORE the licence is issued and each application must be subject to a full, public consultation process in the affected area BEFORE a licence is issued.  Water is vital to all of us and is a public resource which should not be allowed to be privatized and sold off the commercial water bottling or bulk water exports.  The health and security of our communities are at stake.

FURTHER BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Strathcona Regional District received strong public support for the Resolution above and a Delegation from Bruce Gibbons, supported by a large public gallery appealed to our Board urging us to bring this issue to the AVICC and UBCM.  Also, excerpts from a letter the SRD received from Gillian Anderson of Merville, BC are provided below and provided the impetus to bring this matter forward for the attention of AVICC, UBCM and the Provincial Government:

Ms. Anderson wrote:  “There are deficiencies in the licence approval process and a lack of sufficient knowledge of surface water management and the health of BC aquifers and their streams and rivers, which must require a suspension to any future bottling approvals, including the proposed amendment to allow this withdrawal and transport….In the face of inadequate information about how climate change and development are affecting how aquifers are recharged, and faced with the modern reality of chronic water shortages and public sentiment for water conservation, the permitted use of commercial water bottling must be removed from the Water Sustainability Act.”

“According to the Canadian Fresh Water Alliance, “More than 60% of the Province’s water basins were in drought conditions in the fall of 2017.  Water policy experts rank drought and flood resilience as the number one challenge that will define British Columbia…One-fifth of Provincial observation wells show moderate to large rates of decline…Climate change, overuse and poor planning are ushering the Province into an era of tough water decisions.  The tools and policies we have to defend water simply aren’t built to withstand a multi-year drought in BC.  The critical drought conditions we are seeing more frequently across the Province could be mitigated by stronger legislation of BC’s freshwater resources…We lack a full understanding of how much is down there or how withdrawals affect the health of our rivers, lakes and streams…”

“BC water policies are inadequate for the task of managing our water responsibly and need to be updated to reflect modern realities.”

 

CLARIFICATIONS FROM BRENDA LEIGH:

They tried to portray that my Resolution was all about a particular Zoning application in Merville when, if fact, I was alerted to the BC Water Sustainability Act’s “First in Time, First in Rights” policy through my learning about the Merville problem.  

My resolution is about not allowing ANY commercial water bottling and/or bulk water sales to tap into our groundwater.  It was not about any specific application and, in fact, I wrote to the reporter and told him that we at Strathcona do not have any water bottling applications received to date and that this Resolution is about the bigger issue of protection of Canadian water sources.   (emphasis added)- – – –

– – – – – – – – – – –

Local Haulers” deliver bulk water to local people.   The water is from a tap, the municipal water supply.  The Resolution does not apply to local haulers.

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On Nov 21, 2018, Tom Yates <TYates  { @ }srd.ca> wrote:

. . .     For your reference here is the resolution on this topic from OCTOBER that was forwarded to the Premier:

THAT the Premier and the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and Rural Development of BC be advised that the SRD does not support approvals of licenses for the extraction of groundwater anywhere from aquafers on Vancouver Island to be sold for commercial purposes, such as water bottling, bulk water export or private sales.

 

SUPPORT FOR THE RESOLUTION, from OUTSIDE Strathcona Regional District   (tabulation incomplete.)

NEXT VOTES, chronologically:

APRIL

REGIONAL, B.C.   (List of Regional Districts, B.C.)

 Strathcona is a member of a larger regional body:  AVICC, the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (the “coastal communities” are on the Sunshine Coast, across the Salish Sea, on the mainland).

AVIIC AGM, April 12 – 14, in Powell River.

Other REGIONAL votes,  similar Resolutions to Strathcona?    Stay tuned, we’ll try to collect information as it happens.

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MAY – JUNE, 2019   Update Feb 11:  too late.  Deadline for Resolutions missed (Jan. 9)

NATIONAL, FCM  (Federation of Canadian Municipalities)

May 30 to June 2 –   FCM meets this year in Quebec City.

Feb 11, 2019:  Hi Sandra,

The information you are looking for can be found on this page: https://fcm.ca/en/about-fcm/corporate-resources/fcm-resolutions/about-resolutions

Unfortunately, the deadline to submit resolutions for consideration at FCM’s 2019 Annual Conference has passed (it was January 9).  The next deadline is July 10th for consideration at FCM’s September 2019 Board meeting.

For additional information about FCM’s resolutions process, please refer to our Procedures for Resolutions.

Regards,

Resolutions

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SEPTEMBER

PROVINCIAL,     UBCM  (Union of B.C. MUNICIPALITIES)

SEPT 23 to 27 –  Vancouver

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OCTOBER

FEDERAL,  Election, October 21, 2019

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LOCAL NEWSPAPER REPORTS

1.       2018-10-29 Water: pushing to block for-profit water extraction and bottling, right across Vancouver Island

Campbell River area wants Vancouver Island united against commercial water extraction,  By Mike Chouinard

2.        Comox Valley Regional District defeats Merville water bottling operation application(Campbell River Mirror)

Applicant says he will bottle the water in the Strathcona Regional District,   By Jolene Rudisuela,  Aug. 28, 2018

3.         Jim Abram, Director, did an interview. Go to Campbell River Mirror website.  7 Vista Radio.  The interview is printed word-for-word.

 

 

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