The B.C. government is starting its review, but is holding firm on its previously announced plan to charge large-scale industrial water users and bottling companies $2.25 per million litres.
A July petition collecting more than 200,000 signatures called on B.C. to “stop allowing corporate freeloaders from extracting our water for next to nothing.”
Premier Christy Clark said the province would go back and look at, but on Monday, Environment Minister Mary Polak says any potential changes won’t take effect until next year.
“That review is ongoing and we expect that we probably would be finished and ready to deal with new pricing in and around mid-2016.”
NDP critic Spencer Chandra Herbert accuses the government of being slow to act.
“The government said in July they’d look to change the price. That’s plenty of time. Half a year and the government can’t act? Well, you can bet that they’d jack taxes up in a minute, yet here they are letting major funders of the government get away with paying next to nothing for our water.”
Liz McDowell, who was behind the petition with SumOfUs.org, is surprised.
“It’s much lower than other jurisdictions across Canada. I would be pretty surprised if that amount was enough to fully cover the costs of the program.”
A Uvic-led study suggests only 6 per cent of groundwater is renewable within a human lifetime, suggesting it is a finite resource.
Premier Christy Clark was also asked about the water rate at a media event on Monday, and she says the review process is beginning now.
“We want to understand how all the users are using it, how much they are using it, and then the changes that we bring in, if we do, will be sensitive to that.”