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Map: Victoria Times Colonist
Press Release: February 8, 2011

At least 40 streams in four adjoining B.C. inlets north of Vancouver have been targeted for new water bottling operations, five groups revealed today. The bulk of the dozens of water bottling license applications--in Bute, Knight, Jervis and Toba Inlets--were filed in 2010 and are now in the hands of the new B.C. Ministry of Resource Operations.

Friends of Bute Inlet, Sierra Club Quadra Island, Sierra Club Malaspina , the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association and the Campbell River chapter of the Council of Canadians are all calling on B.C. Environment Minister Murray Coell to authorize a formal environmental assessment covering all the applications.

"Right now, the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations is only examining each project individually, and it does not have a mandate to investigate the overall impact of taking water from at least 40 streams in the same area," said Lannie Keller, spokesperson for Friends of Bute Inlet. "This is an industrial operation by anyone's definition."

The water license applications are to remove up to 112.5 cubic metres (almost 25,000 gallons) of water each day from each stream. Water will be collected from a skiff through a pump or hose and funnel, and the skiff will offload onto a barge and then transport the water by truck to a bottling establishment.

"This is a completely new dimension in water exploitation, unlike anything the public has seen before," says Daniel Bouman of the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association. "The sheer number of applications, the cumulative potential environmental impacts of the scheme, and certainly the growing level of public concern all justify a full environmental assessment."

North Island MLA Claire Trevena has already asked Coell to authorize an environmental assessment of the cumulative impacts of the proposed water operations. Andrew Gage, acting Executive Director of West Coast Environmental Law, has asked Coell to extend the public comment period. In a letter to Coell, Gage said the wrong questions were being asked by the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations and that the proponent should be required to provide detailed information about how the project will operate as a whole.

More information:
Globe and Mail news story
Times Colonist news story