Environmental groups raise alarm over scheme to bottle water from more than 40 B.C. streams!

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From the Times-Colonist – Feb 7, 2011

by Judith Lavoie

A deluge of connected applications to extract water for bottling —
from more than 40 streams around four remote inlets on the B.C. Central
Coast — has prompted a flurry of requests for a full provincial
environmental assessment.

The applications, now individually under
consideration by the Natural Resource Operations Ministry, envisage
taking about 112,000 litres a day from each of the streams. The water
would then be barged to Vancouver and bottled.

“With 40 or more
streams involved that’s an industrial operation by anyone’s definition,”
said Lannie Keller of the Friends of Bute Inlet.

“But that ministry is looking only at each individual application and not the entire project.”

Although
three numbered companies and two First Nations — the Kwiakah First
Nation of Campbell River and Da’naxda’xw Awaetlala of Alert Bay — are
named on the applications, the common thread is William Chornobay of
Langley, who could not be contacted Monday.

“They are all part of a
single scheme,” said Arthur Caldicott, an energy analyst and writer who
has researched the applications for the publication Watershed Sentinel.

“It’s
a unique phenomenon. We’ve never seen anything like it before, even
during the boom in bottled water in 2007. . . . We have no idea how
these are being assessed by government,” he said.

Between 60 and
70 water-use licences have been issued by the province in the past, but
many have either been abandoned or are not fully used, Caldicott said.

All recent applications are around Jervis, Toba, Bute and Knight inlets.

As the applications are connected, the cumulative environmental effects —
rather than the effects of individual withdrawals — need to be studied,
say the Campbell River Council of Canadians, Friends of Bute Inlet,
Sierra Club Malaspina, Sierra Club Quadra Island and Sunshine Coast
Conservation Association. All have asked Environment Minister Murray
Coell for an environmental assessment.

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About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

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