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(VANCOUVER) While welcoming the interim report of the provincial governments Drinking Water Review Panel, the leader of BCs largest public sector union warns that the panels recommendations wont be worth the paper they are written on if the Campbell Liberals gut the public service and hand control of water over to the private sector.

CUPE BC President Barry ONeill points out that these recommendations will be useless if the BC government slashes the jobs of the people who protect our water from source to tap.

ONeill is also disappointed that the panel did not address the importance of keeping water in public hands.

Public ownership and management of water is the best way to ensure safe, reliable, and accessible water, he says.

Demand will only increase for water for power, agriculture, business and municipal uses. The tough choices about how to develop our water resources must be made by the public for the public, ONeill says.

British Columbians are not prepared to give private business control of the water-quality monitoring, distribution, or pricing of our water.

ONeill adds that the union does support a number of the panels findings.

We are impressed with the recommendation that a stand-alone Drinking Water Agency be created. This is an initiative that CUPE had strongly urged the panel to consider. A separate agency will be able to protect drinking water from source to tap, and is in the best interests of the health and safety of all British Columbians.

We agree with the panels recommendation that a scientific panel should be appointed to review drinking water standards, and are also pleased with the panels emphasis on protecting water sources, ONeill says. It just makes sense to protect our drinking water in the watersheds or in the ground at the point of origin, rather than trying to rehabilitate it later.


Contact Barry ONeill, CUPE BC President 604-916-8444
Kathy Corrigan, Researcher 604-291-1940