Outrage as British Columbia plans to sell groundwater for $2.25 per million litres

An online petition has gained more than 85,000 signatures over newly-unveiled water pricing

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More than 85,000 people have signed an online petition against plans to sell British Columbia's groundwater for $2.25 per million litres.

The petition, on the online campaigning site SumOfUs, claims it is outrageous that companies will able to buy the province’s groundwater for “next to nothing”.

Last month the provincial government in British Columbia unveiled a new pricing structure for companies and residents as part of its Water Sustainability Act (WSA).

The act, which comes into effect next January, replaces the Water Act of 1909 which does not currently charge companies, or individuals, for how much groundwater they use.

This means that companies such as Nestle are able to bottle Canadian water with no costs for its usage.   

While the act will exempt homeowners with individual wells, households supplied by municipal water systems may pay an estimated $1 or $2 more per year, according to government estimates.

“The new water legislation, on the one hand, is fairly appropriate when it comes to individuals’ water use- but corporations, once again, get off with paying virtually nothing,” says the petition, which aims to get 100,000 signatories.

“If a Canadian were to bottle enough groundwater to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, they’d pay $180. Nestle will pay $6.25. That’s bananas.”

When pressed in the provincial legislature last month, Environment Minister Mary Polak replied that the government has “never engaged in the selling of water as a commodity”.

“We don’t sell water. We charge administration fees for the management of that resource,” she added, according to The Province.