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Public water advocates say regional district must act

Advocates for public water are deeply disappointed that the B.C. Comptroller of Water Rights has given privately owned Breakwater Enterprises approval to sell its water rights and assets to EPCOR.

“In addition to concerns about escalating costs and secrecy that come with these private water contracts, we are really concerned about the security of our water supply. It was a key issue for the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN), which opposed the sale, and we are concerned that the Comptroller did not address the issue of a secure source of water,” said Rodger Oakley, President of CUPE 401 and chair of the Island Water Watch campaign.

“The RDN must immediately re-enter negotiations with EPCOR to get full integration of the regional district system and resolve the water supply issue,” said Oakley.

Oakley said that during the lengthy process of review, it became clear that EPCOR does not have a plan for water supply and that the RDN is not prepared to give EPCOR access to water from behind the Arrowsmith dam.

Oakley said that he is also concerned that the Water Comptroller is out of touch with the public on this issue. “Vancouver Island residents are absolutely opposed to privatized water. Ipsos Reid polling in November found that 92 percent of Vancouver Islanders agreed that water is a basic public service and should always remain in public hands.”

Oakley said that water advocates are considering a number of routes to protect public water and may be approaching the RDN board and provincial MLAs to discuss the options.