With the Stave Lake water project referendum just a week away, the City of Abbotsford has released a letter from the provincial government regarding the sale of water to the U.S.
The letter confirms the city’s stance that water cannot be exported out of the country.
Dated Nov. 3, 2011, the letter is addressed to Tracy Kyle, the city’s director of water and solid waste.
It reads: “The Water Protection Act (WPA) prohibits the removal of water in bulk from British Columbia. Under the provisions of the WPA, water may not cross the BC border in containers larger than 20 litres. Certain operations that were in place prior to enactment of the law were registered under the WPA and are allowed to continue. These are the only six active WPA registrations remaining. The window for obtaining a WPA registration closed on September 1, 1996.
In response to the inquiries you have received, the City of Abbotsford is not permitted to remove bulk water from BC as it would be a violation of the Water Protection Act.”
It’s signed by Pieter Bekker, deputy comptroller of water rights, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
“That’s what we’ve been saying all along,” said city manager Frank Pizzuto, noting the city has had many inquiries from residents regarding the possibility of selling excess water to the U.S.
“We felt we should go to the provincial government and be clear. That’s the fact, that water cannot be exported out of Canada, whether it’s treated or untreated.”
Critics of the P3 project have concerns about allowing a for-profit company treat public water, including water quality levels, rising costs, and the commodification of water.
Water Watch Mission-Abbotsford spokesperson Diane Kalen-Sukra said while some people may have been concerned about exporting water, it wasn’t a major issue for her organization.
“Water Watch has never made an issue of bulk water export, because we understand that that is provincially mandated.”
She said the organization is concerned about the privatization of water services.