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June 3, 2010

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Powell River community forms Water Watch Coalition

POWELL RIVER—Several concerned Powell River community groups have come together to form the Powell River Water Watch Coalition. These groups were shocked by the City of Powell River’s surprise announcement in April 2010 that they had reached an Agreement in Principle with Catalyst Paper for, among other things, co-treatment of municipal sewage in the Catalyst Powell River mill. The great speed and total lack of public consultation or input for the agreement was “extremely alarming.”

The Water Watch coalition includes CUPE Local 798 (Powell River municipal, regional and library workers), the local chapter of the Council of Canadians and the three ratepayers associations – Townsite, Wildwood and Cranberry, as well as the local chapter of the Sierra Club. These groups have come together to fight what spokespersons call a “high risk” and “poorly thought out” plan, and to demand that the City keep the sewage system public.

"CUPE's involvement and support for the community's effort is absolutely critical to our success,” says Murray Dobbin, from the Powell River chapter of the Council of Canadians. “Its long experience and knowledge about water issues is a huge help."

All the coalition members believe strongly that ownership, operation and management of water and water-related utilities must remain in the hands of the public. The deal struck between the City of Powell River and Catalyst Paper will put Powell River’s wastewater treatment in the hands of a private corporation whose only duty is to maximize shareholder return, not answer to taxpayers.

The coalition website is: www.prpublicwater.com.

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