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Theres a new drinking water plant up and running in Kamloops, B.C., and its publicly owned and operated thanks to a fight waged by CUPE 900 four years ago.

The push for a new plant began in the late 1990s when provincial health officials ordered the city to upgrade how it treated its drinking water. High levels of sediment in the citys water source had prompted regular orders to boil water, especially during the spring run-off.

When it became clear that city council was considering a P3 for the new plant, CUPE joined forces with the Council of Canadians to organize a powerful community campaign. City council listened, and in 2001 voted unanimously to keep the citys new filtration plant public.

We fought really hard to prove what we and many members of the public already knew, said Mel Hale, CUPE 900 President. CUPE has the expertise, dedication and commitment to deliver clean, affordable and safe drinking water to our community.

CUPE 900 has set an example for all locals fighting privatization, adds CUPE BC president Barry ONeill.

The new state-of-the-art plant will treat up to 160 million litres of drinking water each day and is the largest membrane filtration plant in North America. The high-tech filtration system removes 99 per cent of contaminants from the river water. Federal-provincial infrastructure funds helped pay for the plant, proving that governments have the money to pay for public water plants.