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Vancouver Island has become a key battleground in the global fight against water and wastewater privatization. That is the message from water activists at a Victoria public forum, It’s only water… or is it? The forum is being held today (March 22), which the United Nations has designated World Water Day.

Canadian Union of Public Employees B.C. division president Barry O’Neill, who will be speaking at the forum, said that private corporations such as Terasen and Epcor have set their sites on private water contracts on Vancouver Island.

“Epcor is in Sooke, Port Hardy and most recently French Creek in the Regional District of Nanaimo, and Terasen is in Langford and is pursuing the Colwood and Highlands Councils. This kind of privatization is happening globally and it leads to higher costs and less accountability for citizens,” said. O’Neill.

“Our aim is to stop the privateers. We want our water and wastewater to be publicly owned and managed. We need to organise as we’ve never organised before to keep public water in public hands. We want fresh, healthy and affordable water and wastewater for all for generations to come.”

Island Water Watch campaign coordinator Leslie Dickout said that coalitions to support public water have formed across Vancouver Island in the recent months. “Island residents are really concerned about what is happening and they are committed to work tirelessly to stop corporations like Terasen and Epcor,” said Dickout. “The Island Water Watch campaign will be there to help.”

O’Neill noted that CUPE activists have joined the Council of Canadians and other organizations in Mexico City for events around the World Water Forum. “The fight for public water is local and it is global.”

Island Water Watch is an ongoing campaign to keep water and wastewater systems publicly owned, financed and managed. The website is www.keepwaterpublic.ca