I read recently that in British Columbia, the province where I live, that the Swiss multinational corporation Nestle takes over 250 million of our water a year and pays virtually nothing. It is our provincial government which makes those kind of decisions (who can take water from our collective groundwater sources) and charges only $2.25 per million litres. So Nestle, bottling 265 million litres of B.C water a year, would pay just $596.25.
The price is one thing, but even allowing a corporation access to our collective and sacred resource, a basic necessity to life, to sell water for a profit, makes no sense to me. This quote, from the CEO of Nestle in 2005, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, shows the key divide:
“Water is of course the most important raw material we have today in the world. It’s a question of whether we should privatize the normal water supply for the population. And there are two different opinions on the matter. The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right…That means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution. The other view … says that water is a foodstuff like any other, and like any other foodstuff it should have a market value.”
In case you think Brabeck-Letmathe might be long retired, he was CEO from 1997 to 2008, then Chairman of the Board until this year. Even still, as of April, 2017, Brabeck-Letmathe is Chairman Emeritus.
There is a “Water Sustainability Act” in BC and even some small amendments to address “unintended consequences” this fall. However, with a new NDP government, is it time to call for a review of the commercial use of our groundwater in BC? What do you think?