Jan 252019

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2019-01-28 Taking of water for export. Director Brenda Leigh re “First in Time, First in Rights” policy

2019-01-25   Strathcona Regional District board passes bottled water resolution for AVICC meeting



  •  the wording of the Resolution, as it was passed – – near the bottom of this posting
  •  trade in water and the first Free Trade Deals with the U.S.  (moved to HISTORY)
  •  1991 re planned bulk tanker export of water from Fanny Bay, B.C. to California
  • almost 30 years later, B.C. Supreme Court Judge finds Vander Zalm Government guilty of misfeasance (corruption) in Export of Water
  • 1999 intended:  bulk export by tanker of the water from Gisborne Lake, Nfld to the U.S. – – shut down through opposition by Canadians.
  • “deserts” created by the taking; or by the degradation of water:  Aral Sea, Salton Sea, delta of the Colorado River, disappeared oases in the Arizona desert (draw down of ground water for various purposes),  and so on, many examples.

– – – – – – – –  – – – – – –

After news of the effort to establish a bottling plant in Merville B.C., people in mid-Island discovered there are long-standing bottled water plants in our area, relatively unknown.  They serve the export market, as well as domestic.

Nestle has a water bottling plant near Hope, B.C..  A 2016 news report:

The company takes about 265 million litres of water a year from this site and has done so for years, although verifying past takings is difficult because, until 2016, there was not only no charge for groundwater takings, there was no reporting requirement.” “Outrage about the Hope site has been growing for years but exploded during the drought and wildfires of summer 2015. . . .”.       See:

2016-09-19 & 2018-04-12 Chilliwack chapter (RE Hope, BC) wants Nestle to “stop profiting from water; & Water campaigners hold action at Nestlé, the Hope Standard.


A very important conversation has been started by the Strathcona Resolution on the taking of groundwater for export, for profit.

The important ideas are about the economic system.  How it works. Not theoretically, but the way it is in back rooms on main street.

In one sentence an old fisherman captured the dilemma with the export of water:

“You cannot give up something that gives you income”.

It comes down to:

We have to stop the export of water before a whole lot MORE people and Governments are dependent on the money from it.

Otherwise it will not be stopped because “Growth” in GDP is paramount.


Most of the water exported from Canada is from B.C.  . . .  or is it Ontario?    . . .  who knows?

Where does the push come from?  More than one place.  One you would not expect:


Go on their website; pages dated 2017 say 75% of the water exported goes to the U.S.;  they are targeting China for market expansion, with financial and other supports for the water exporters.    See:

2018-12-15   Submission, International Trade, re Export of Water.

The Fanny Bay plant supplies Asian markets, as well as domestic.  Less is known about another plant in my area.



Politicians love it; business voters equate it with a well-administered economy.

But GDP measures financial transactions that go through a cash register.  It tells you nothing about the value of the expenditures.  Nor does it tell you whether you’re doing a run on assets,  depleting the bank accounts.

I am moved by reclamation work done by Streamkeepers.   Some people dedicate all their spare time.  In GDP that sweat and success have zero value whereas destruction does count.  The Deepwater Horizon fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico.  Human-made environmental disaster, sick people with big medical bills, those things “grow” the economy, according to our archaic economic indicators.  As long as it goes through the cash register.

The idea that “success is continuous growth” is especially dangerous in the case where water is the product you’re selling.   The Agri-food program will be evaluated.  Did Canada ship “more” water this year than last?  That’s their job.  In 2014 it was almost $170 million dollars worth.  (I don’t have more recent figures.  If you do,  please let me know.  You could use the “Comments” section at the bottom of this posting.)

Do people know when, or how, to stop an “economic” activity that is doing great harm?

The old fisherman answered the question.

 “You cannot give up something that gives you income”.

Note:  in his case, they weren’t exporting water; they were taking water from the inflowing river, to grow crops.  In either case, the water doesn’t reach the delta, estuary, or the sea where the fish are.  There’s no difference, just as there’s no difference between exporting water to another country or domestically.

The old fisherman was speaking of the irrigators.  He understood their plight.  A whole economy had grown up around the water from the river, a now-large irrigation industry – – suppliers, specialists, machinery.  The central Government supported it; various taxes flowed in.

The fisherman did not state his own case:  he had been forced to give up his income; there were no more fish.

The taking of the water was “locked in”; the taking of “more” enabled “more” income, growth, dependency for “more” people.

Can you ever say to the exporters, or to the new cattle plantations coming to our area:  we’ve gone too far?

A lawyer from the U.S. was a guest speaker at a Water Conference I attended.  The organizers thought his experience would illustrate the value of water, as an investment vehicle.  The lawyer said there was litigation over water rights on every single river in the U.S.  There is a national association of lawyers who do nothing but litigation over water rights.  So it must be valuable, right?    But who gets the water in that scenario? . . .  seems obvious to me:  those who can afford a specialized lawyer.

Prairie people were dependent upon buffalo and beaver for keeping themselves warm and healthy.  In the beginning, the First Nations did not understand that the European markets they were supplying could never be satisfied.  They were just too large.

Today, we know how many people live in Asia, and in the U.S.; we know how the economy works.

We need to fight hard to stop expansion of the water-taking business.  Look at fisheries, I lived in Nova Scotia while the cod fishery was going into the coffin.  it might become necessary to downsize;  but it’s unlikely to happen.  Not in time.  Mother Nature might fold.  That’s what brings a halt to the economic activity that is harming and destroying.  We human beings don’t do it.  cannot give up revenue

Economically,  we have to be more creative than putting water in bottles and shipping it out.

Other characteristics of our economic system also warn against exporting water.



Big firms buy up smaller firms.

The “owners” are as likely to be large foreign corporations, as they are to be local companies; Nestle, CocaCola, there are Chinese companies of comparable size and power.  It’s a foreign language.  Just because we can’t spell or say their names does not mean they don’t exist.

. . . June 2016,  the last update on a court case that goes back to 1991.   The lawsuit is over favours exchanged between the Vander Zalm Government, and a company that wanted to be the exporter of water.  The other would-be exporter was frozen out.   The Judge (B.C. Supreme Court) ruled “misfeasance” (corruption).

2016-06-17 Water export, vander Zalm:  B.C. government guilty of misfeasance in long-running water dispute; B.C. businessman waged a two-decade legal battle against his province. A judge finally sided with him; Province appeals damning water export case; Premier Bill vander Zalm and the Water War Crimes

Here’s the headline on the California side, from the Los Angeles Times:

1991-03-22 Raining on Water Importer’s Parade: Drought: The latest series of storms may have doused chances that a Santa Barbara firm will get a large contract to import water from Fanny Bay, Vancouver Island, Canada.

Excerpt:  $100 million on an emergency tankering program (1991 dollars)


In Qualicum Bay and French Creek, there were cases of cholera, and there’s chronic noro-virus in the Salish Sea.  Feedback from natural systems tells us that the systems are failing; and we’d better make “appropriate and timely” corrections.

Is expansion of the export of water from B.C. going to help improve matters?  No.  It will un-do the progress that numerous citizens have worked hard to accomplish.  We’re far better off to move the money from Agri-Food Canada into addressing CAUSES of the decline.  AgriFood Canada gone, we won’t even notice; oysters that make Canadians sick are another matter.  Cholera really grabs your attention.  It’s bad for the tourist industry.

Someone else is not going to look after these waterways for us.   Look at the context:  an economy that concentrates wealth in outside hands that are disconnected from this place.  They don’t know where the profits (their dividends) come from.  Unfortunately, I don’t have time to tell you how the Exemption on Trade in Water was removed from the very first Trade Deals with the U.S., and by whom.  (. . .  see HISTORY)

Canada and the provinces used to have laws that recognized the need for protection of water.  It is sacred in the sense that you die without it.

In closing, from the wrap-up to a successful effort to stop a large dam on the South Saskatchewan River. It was part of the infrastructure for the export of water to the U.S. from Lake Athabasca in northern Saskatchewan, but that was never told to us.  (Did you know about the Agri-Food Canada program?)  From 2006-04-27 Water. Wrap-up statement, Proposed Meridian Dam. Battle won.

Many societies have understood their dependence. The things upon which the society is dependent are sacred. It is not superstition, it is Good Common Sense. You cherish the things upon which your life is dependent. Your grandchildren will be as dependent as you. You protect the gift so they, too, (may live here).    Outsiders do, and will, look at our Society in bewilderment: how is it that these people did not understand their relationship to the River, to Water?  . . .  We display ignorance.

Remember the old fisherman.  He’s from the Aral Sea.  It was the fourth largest inland sea in the world.  How long did it take for policies and support of the central government to empty it?

National Geographic:  https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/10/141001-aral-sea-shrinking-drought-water-environment

BBC:   http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180719-how-kazakhstan-brought-the-aral-sea-back-to-life


I ask you to please support the Resolution.  It is practical, it addresses the way things are on the street.  It is forward-thinking, anticipates problems, stops them before they get out of the gate.  The Resolution is smart and it’s needed.



= = = = = = = = = = = = =

THE RESOLUTION, as amended and passed:

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, Natural Resources and Rural Development be requested to immediately cease the licensing and extraction of groundwater for commercial water bottling and/or bulk water exports from aquifers.”

Agri-food Canada’s program that targets the growth of the water export market needs to be dismantled.   Can we mount a nation-wide effort?

Local firms are taken over by the behemoth transnationals.  We are never going to influence what goes on in Ottawa between Big Government and Big Business.  We have a chance if power is dispersed, with some at the local level.

It’s the Federal Government;  it’s up to “Canadians” to communicate with each other across the country.  In B.C.,  we will otherwise be exhausted, wrestling with a ghost that is operating out-of-sight,  sending more and more water into export markets,  always for profit.  There will be consequences for us.



Corporate entities have motivation and often financial power with which to corrupt political parties and politicians, and the bureaucracy or civil service.  We are not different from other countries in the face of Big Government working with Big Corporations.

So we have an economy that concentrates wealth.  Think of how that works:  the big firms that do the gobbling are “from away”.  Power moves to the centre.  They take power away from the local.  (Agri-Food Canada has decided that we are exporting our water.)

A chasm is created.  On one side sit those who are “Experiencing” the taking of whatever it is.  On the other side sit those who are Deciding and Benefiting.

But this time we have advantages: we know how many people live in China, we know how the economy works.

You cannot give up something that gives you income.”

So?  Stop the export of water, before a whole lot of people and governments are dependent on the money from it.  It’s especially dangerous when the mantra is “growth”.


Citizens have worked hard to re-establish healthy waterways in which salmon can spawn, to ensure salmon survive into the future.  Not only the salmon benefit.  If they are gone, swaths are mowed down with them.  Same as with the herring.  We aren’t known for making smart decisions that serve the long term.  If we were, we would not be in this mess.

The Salish Sea, effectively an inland sea, does not exist in a vacuum.  Water shipped for profit-making is water that would normally flow into the Sea and its estuaries.   Most of us know the experience of the Colorado River; water taken from it led to the near-death of its once-rich delta (which is after the River crosses the border, into Mexico).  Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to try and restore it.

The Aral Sea, an inland sea,  was the fourth largest sea in the world, today is a tenth its size.  $87 million dollars has made a difference in one small part of the sea.  http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180719-how-kazakhstan-brought-the-aral-sea-back-to-life

The Salton Sea in California.  https://www.theverge.com/2018/6/6/17433294/salton-sea-crisis-drying-up-asthma-toxic-dust-pictures

If you think of water supplies to deltas and estuaries, Why is, for example, Royal Dutch Shell a hated name in the Niger delta in Nigeria?  The Niger Delta was also once filled with abundance and supported a healthy population of Ogoni people.  Royal Dutch came in to “develop” the oil and gas on the delta.  The Government is “bought”, a few people become rich, Royal Dutch made huge profits.  The local people today live impoverished and unhealthy lives because the corporation gets away with whatever it can get away with.  They are “outsiders”; they have no allegiance to local well-being.  Corruption of officials is rampant.  Resisters are killed.  The story is repeated and repeated, in many different countries.

The point is:  Agri-food Canada in Ottawa promotes and assists with expansion of water export from B.C..  You don’t know they’re doing that.   The program they have will be evaluated for its success.  We have ONE word by which we measure economic activity:  GROWTH.   Look at impoverishment in the world:  do people know when to stop an “economic” activity?  Royal Dutch Shell?  Texaco/Chevron in the Amazon forests of Ecuador?  They stop when the water is so poisoned it can’t be used; the whole area is a “tailings pond” and the land uninhabitable.  Pollute the water;  take the water.

Someone else is not going to look after these waterways for us.   Look at the context:  an economy that concentrates wealth in outside hands that are disconnected from this place.  They don’t know where the profits (their dividends) come from.  Routine corruption, from the first trade deals with the U.S., and on, through vander Zalm and beyond.  When I hear what Premier Ford has gotten away with, I don’t think the corruption is going to end anytime soon.  Few people stand up to it.

When it comes to water, Canada and the provinces have, or used to have, laws that recognized the need for protection of water.  It is sacred in the sense that you die without it.  It doesn’t matter whether you are “taking” out of the system in large and increasing quantities, or whether you’re polluting it.  You have only to look at the Niger Delta (mentioned), or the Aamjiwnaang First Nation adjacent to the refineries in Sarnia, ON, or to the people at Fort Chipewyan downstream from Fort McMurray, to know where polluted (poisoned) water takes us.

We cannot live in health, in an environment where water is not protected. Nor can wildlife, or fish and other aquatic organisms.  We know from our own Sea, a stone’s throw away, from experience with salmon, oysters, herring, orcas, whales . . .  we have to actively fight to protect Water.  We imperil the life that is here, if we don’t.  There’s ample evidence from the historical record to serve as a red warning light.

I ask you to please support the Resolution.



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