B.C. Government introduces water legislation to stop companies from getting it for free

Companies like Nestlé will have to start paying for groundwater in B.C. under legislation introduced today.

The Water Sustainability Act, which was introduced in the legislature today, will replace the existing Water Act, which was first passed by the Legislature in 1909. According to the government the new regulations, reached after four years of discussions with First Nations and stakeholder groups, will protect stream health, protect groundwater, and provide for a greater range of governance approaches.

“Given our growing population, changing climate and expanding development, we must
take concrete steps to ensure our supply of clean fresh water is sustainable,” said Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

B.C. came under fire in the summer when it was revealed that Nestlé Waters Canada uses 230 million litres of fresh water every year from an aquifer in the Fraser Valley for free. The lack of regulations around groundwater allowed them and others to use and resell millions of litres of water without paying a cent to the province.

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However, the new Act will charge companies the same rate for accessing groundwater as they do for surface water. Those rates currently range from $0.01 to $1.10 per thousand cubic meter.

The government has released a pamphlet outlining some of the changes for the public.

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