Sunday, July 12, 2015

Re: Nestle and water

An interesting development - Judi Tyabji is explaining on Facebook that we should NOT be urging the BC government to sell our water, that it is in fact against our interests - because a push in this direction turns water into a saleable commodity, not a public resource, and opens the taps forevermore. We probably don't want our water stolen, either, mind you, so the issue is somewhat tricky, but we also probably don't want to be signing petitions about selling off one of our most valuable resources... post and comments here.

Tyabji writes: 
I have to make a statement about the growing hysteria around BC's laws on water, which terrifies me because the campaign is wrong. Do NOT demand that the province charge Nestle money, unless you want to open the door to massive water sales in BC. Please read my full statement very carefully because water is more important than politics. Context: I have been campaigning against bulk water exports since the late 1980s, arguing against the Free Trade Agreement, and later NAFTA, which defined water as a commodity eligible for export, and contained clauses locking us into sustained export levels regardless of our domestic need. Recent news stories alleging that the BC government is 'giving away' our water to Nestle and stating that the government should be 'charging a fair price' for it are dangerous. Currently, Nestle pays the same fees that everyone else pays for access to water. Nestle is on the record saying they will pay a fair price and in fact want the province to do an inventory of its fresh water. Understand this as you sign the petition DEMANDING that the province charge Nestle for water: you are lobbying our government to turn our water into a commodity for sale. That's what you are doing when you post articles and petitions. You will make Nestle VERY happy if you succeed, because then we can NEVER turn off the taps due to the international trade deals in place.

Do NOT sign the petition do NOT ask that our water become a commodity. When Environment Minister Mary Polak says “We don’t sell water. We charge administration fees for the management of that resource" she is trying to tell us this - we are NOT selling it. And that is the ONLY way we can protect it. By NOT selling it. Honestly, this campaign terrifies me. Every headline I have read is misleading and intended to make you angry and lobby for something very bad. Please share.

https://www.facebook.com/judi.tyabji/posts/10153042171231964?fref=nf

1 comment:

Ian Stephen said...

Unfortunately on this issue Tyabji has launched a tirade with the words “growing hysteria” and calling a strongly supported public campaign “wrong” without getting her facts straight.

The petition in question asks the government to review an existing rate. It is not about “selling” water. It is an administrative fee that existed under the old Water Act for surface water and is now being extended to groundwater under the new Water Sustainability Act.

Tyabji writes “Currently, Nestle pays the same fees that everyone else pays for access to water.” In fact currently Nestle does not pay anything for access to water because they use groundwater and BC has never regulated groundwater before. When the Water Sustainability Act comes into effect in 2016, Nestle, like every other non-domestic groundwater user, will have to get a licence (free, the licence fees are being waived) and pay a “rental rate” for access to water just as surface water users always have.

This does not open the door to NAFTA, it does not change water to a commodity. It provides revenue on a cost recovery basis for the government’s regulation of water in the province.

The point of the petition is that the rates the government has set, a maximum of $2.25 per million litres, will not provide sufficient cost recovery to do the work that needs to be done to properly regulate water use in the province. The WaterWealth Project and SumOfUs are asking the government to review an existing rate structure. Nothing new. Just review the rates and show British Columbians how the rates they set will fund the full implementation of the Water Sustainability Act.

The Environment Minister and more recently MLA Laurie Throness have doggedly dodged the real issue straw man arguments of commodification of water, or of businesses being harmed by loss of access to water. We can only wonder whether their reluctance to even review the rates comes from the fact that LNG fracking, an industry favoured by government and which Tyabji’s husband was reported to be receiving $12,500 a month to advocate for, uses immense amounts of water.