On Friday November 15, Karen Hunter and the Water Guardians of Golden presented Doug Clovechok, Golden’s MLA, with a petition with an ask for the province to stop issuing licenses for bottling water for bulk export. The petition had over 900 signatures at the time of its presentation.
The petition comes as a result of GoldenKey Investments Group purchase of a 20-acre parcel of land on Fisher Road, and their plans to build a water bottling plant to ship Golden’s water across the world.
“I never really thought about water before this, you kind of just turn the tap on and there it is, and it’s good,” said Hunter. “But when I heard that a company wanted to bottle it I just thought ‘oh no’ and it kind of woke me up.”
The Water Guardians of Golden was started when Hunter first heard that GoldenKey was attempting to get a license to bottle water out of the same aquifer that the Town of Golden draws its water from.
This all started when Hunter, concerned with the garbage and waste this would create with the use of disposable plastic bottles, not to mention the carbon footprint of having it shipped and trucked across the world, started a Facebook group so that people could discuss their opinions with what GoldenKey was doing.
In the Facebook group, Hunter quickly realized that if they wanted to affect change, the way to do it was to lobby with the provincial government with a hard-copy petition.
“Currently with the Water Sustainability Act, the provincial government can just give a licence, and they don’t even have to consult with or even inform the municipality that uses that water source,” said Hunter. “That wasn’t good enough for us. We’re working to change the legislation to make it protect water better.”
Hunter has been working with other groups across the province who have created similar petitions to the provincial government with success.
In fact, the wording of the petition for the Water Guardians of Golden came from a petition in Merville, which was successful in shutting down a private companies license to bottle water. The town of Merville has even taken it a step further, and have adopted a bylaw in the last few weeks to prevent water bottling in the future.
“I would eventually love to see that here,” said Hunter. “Our council has indicated that they’re open to it.”
What concerns Hunter most now, is the impact that allowing GoldenKey to bottle water will have on the future of Golden and the generations to come.
When licenses are granted, they don’t consider the watershed as a whole and the impact it could have on the future, according to Hunter. One of her main concerns right now is that the pumping tests conducted by GoldenKey to test the recharge rate of the aquifer was done in a very wet year, and could have produced misleading results.
“I don’t feel that there is enough protection for the future generations and I’m worried it’ll impact Golden’s ability to grow,” said Hunter. “We’ve always had water, but that may not always be the case. We don’t know all that much about our aquifer.”
Hunter is hopeful that the Water Guardians of Golden will be able to enact permanent changes. From her conversations with Clovechok, she’s hopeful that some key changes will be made to the Water Sustainability Act and that they will be well received by communities who are impacted by this.
Moving forward, Hunter hopes that the support from the community can continue, while the Guardians continue to work hard for Golden. She’s hoping that next she can see Golden become a Blue Community under the Council of Canadians to recognize and protect water as a human right.