March 22 is World Water Day – and in B.C. the major event has been the introduction of the long-awaited Water Sustainability Act in the B.C. legislature on March 11.
The draft legislation makes improvements, but key priorities for CUPE BC and others are missing, including enshrining a Public Trust Doctrine to ensure the protection of water as a human right for future generations and mechanisms for broader public participation in decisions on our water resources.
Debate on the legislation has yet to begin, but will occur during the spring 2014 session. However the important issue of ensuring major industrial water users pay for the water they use has been put off to another process, and will be dealt with through regulations passed by the Cabinet, and not in the legislature. CUPE BC’s submission on the legislation and links to resources on new water legislation can be found here.
Many events to highlight the importance of public water are taking place at CUPE locals and in communities throughout the province. For more information, check the Council of Canadians event listing.
Later this spring, CUPE locals will join local governments and others to mark Drinking Water Week from May 4 – 10, 2014.
And watch for the first edition of an annual World Water Development Report that will be released as part of the United Nations designated day. The theme of the 2014 report is “Water and Energy”.