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POULSEN: Time to sign petition against Nestlé bottled water deal

Image Credit: Chuck Poulsen
July 16, 2015 - 5:26 PM

The Legislature is sitting through the formality of “debating” the Liberals’ multi-billion dollar plans for LNG extraction.

Hope they’ll make a better deal than their current attempt to give away a natural resource.

Conservatives, such as our misnamed B.C. Liberals, like to warn that the NDP couldn’t run a popcorn stand.

The Liberals may know. Premier Christy Clark apparently couldn’t run a bottled water stand.

Nice smile, though.

Even if you’re not usually a petition signer, the Liberals’ agreement with the world’s largest bottled water producer, Nestle, is so cockeyed and unfathomable you might want to go to the following site that says:  “Charge a fair price for Canada's groundwater! Commit now to review the water rates!"

The petition has 220,000 signatures and counting fast as it lights up the social media. It will soon go to B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak for her reading pleasure in the bath.

The water comes from wells near Hope.

The issue was in the news awhile back when it was disclosed that B.C. was giving Nestlé the water for free. Sensing embarrassment, the Liberals renegotiated recently and came up with a new deal: Nestlé would pay the province $2.25 for every million liters extracted from the Hope aquifers. No joke, although it’s a bad one.

The total estimated price of the 265 million litres of water Nestle will reap over a year of is $595.

For that, Nestlé customers will pay up to $2 for a bottle, $3 if they are captives in an airport. In other words, Nestle will get its product from B.C. for $595 and translate it into some $500 million in bottled water.

Put it another way: Nestlé could fill a Martin Mars bomber for a water cost of 6 cents.

Clark said on Monday her government will review the deal. Third time at the drawing board. There could be a hitch with NAFTA re “selling” water, but an administrative fee is allowed, which, technically, is what the current charge is being called.

Given our dry summer and fires, objectors to this deal are framing it as an environmental tragedy.

It’s not really about that at all.

Nestle is not about to “suck B.C. dry” as the petition site says. It’s not about forest fires either, although Big Environment has also worked that into the dialogue.

Nestlé takes less than one per cent of the available groundwater in the Kawkawa Lake sub-watershed near Hope. No big deal.

But the B.C. economy depends on resources. Take those resources out of the mix and, aside from tourism, we don’t have all that much to sell.

I’ve had the same water bottle for two years. I fill it from the tap and keep it in the car for the dog and me. They don’t wear out. Just checked and noticed it was a Nestle bottle so when I signed the petition I could check the box that said I am a “Nestlé customer.”

It’s like a faint hope clause but if the government won’t pay attention, maybe Nestlé will.

* The Martin Mars water bomber achieved a mythical status hereabout during the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire of 2003.
It’s back in action this summer and, as usual, being hailed as the biggest water bomber in the world.
Not true as far as payload goes. Here is short list of the water capacity of some big water bombers:
- Evergreen 747: 78,000 litres. (Company has since gone bankrupt).
- Douglas DC 10: 45,000 litres.
- Russian IIushin: 43,000 liters
- Martin Mars: 27,000 liters.

I’ll be hated for what will be construed as a disparaging comment about the holiness of the Martin Mars so let me add this:

It was built in the same year I was born, 1946.

It’s doing way better than I am.

Chuck Poulsen can be reached at

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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