Opinion: Water Conservation

Don’t let the rain the past few days fool you, British Columbia is dealing with a drought.

Don’t let the rain the past few days fool you, British Columbia is dealing with a drought. Golden, and the whole Kootenay region really, is fortunate to have strong water supplies.

Less fortunate regions, like the lower mainland, are facing some pretty extreme water conservation measures, and it’s starting to take its toll on neighbourly relationships.

Vancouver has a hotline where residents can call in to report a home that is not following the municipal water regulations. There is no need to catch them in the act. When a lush green yard is sandwiched between two brown dried out  pieces of property, it’s quite obvious that someone is overwatering.

The hotline is receiving hundreds and hundreds of calls a week. Several reports have been made of neighbourly fights breaking out over one “ratting out” the other.

But in times like these, where we’re short on water and hundreds of fires burning in the province are in need of water to contain them, is it really wrong to “rat out” those who are not doing their fair share to conserve water?

I don’t think so, and I am quite inspired to see how many people are trying to make sure that governments and companies are also being responsible.

While many of us are restricting our water consumption, letting our lawns and gardens suffer so there’s enough water through the hot summer season, the provincial government is continuing to allow water companies to bottle B.C. water for just $2.25 per million litres.

Nestle is garnering the most attention for this issue, not only because they bottle 265 million litres of B.C. water annually for a price tag of $596.25, but because the company’s CEO has been vocal about his views on water as a consumer product.

In 2005 Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman of Nestle, was quoted saying that the notion of access to water being a basic human right is “an extreme solution.”

A movement to boycott Nestle, and pressure on the province to change their policy has been exploding online in the last few weeks.

Citizens are demanding they be treated as fairly as corporations are. It costs Nestle $2.25 for a million litres, but the current fine in Vancouver for breaking the water regulations and watering on the wrong day is $250.

We tend to forget in Canada, where we are fortunately blessed with natural resources, that water is becoming more scarce. It has even been referred to as the “oil of the future.”

I think it’s time we were a little more forward thinking, and held multinational corporations up to some stronger standards.