Water Exports: The New "Gold Rush?"
The American lust for B.C.’s water has dramatically increased as California especially experiences severe drought. Senator Frank Moss the leading U.S. proponent of using Canadian water talks of the questionable right of one section of a continent to waste water to allow vast quantities of it to run into the sea unused while other sections do not have enough to meet the requirements of their growing populations.” Opponents of water exports, however, argue that the effect of removing vast quantities of water from marine ecosystems is totally unknown: also of concern is the fact that, once begun, it might not be possible to stop water exports in the future, because of the free trade deal with the U.S.
The B.C. cabinet approved a fee schedule for bulk exports of fresh water by tankers in 1985. Since then, seven licences have been issued and 20 more are pending. The province would charge $3,500 for enough water to fill a supertanker. Snowcap Waters a Vancouver Island company in partnership with a California company is already exporting bottled water, but has also applied to have its licence increased to enable export of the equivalent of seventy 260,000-tonne tankers of water from Toba Inlet near Desolation Sound. Another application would involve the export of almost as much water as is consumed by the city of Vancouver in a year.
Opposition to the exports is widespread on environmental grounds. If water were exported between June-September, for example, the situation for spawning salmon could go from critical to disastrous, according to Arnie Tomlinson of the Fishermen and Allied Workers Union. A token moratorium on further licences until June 30 was announced by the B.C. government in late March.
From The New Catalyst, Spring/1991, No. 20.
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