LETTER: Groundwater sales and death by a thousand cuts

You, too, can have your own water bottling company

Dear editor,

I am able to announce that I have joined the queue with an application to be able to bottle and sell groundwater from the Quadra aquifer. Until it was revealed in the last few days that the provincial government granted a provisional license to an individual to extract, bottle and sell groundwater from the Valley, I thought we were all protected by the prohibition of commercial water sales in the Official Community Plan registered by the Comox Valley Regional District. Not so. I believe even the CVRD was shocked to discover they had no jurisdiction. All they can do is grant or reject a business licence for the bottle works according to zoning.

I will not dwell on my disgust.

I initiated inquiries today towards an application of my own. I encourage any persons having wells in the Valley to make similar applications. What a nice cottage industry for us seniors on fixed incomes!

The province has set a very low bar as a precedent to qualify for a licence. Make it a low volume and you do not even have to establish sustainability of supply.

In the Sandwick district, many of us have wells that have provided us with water for many years; even decades. We will soon have an upgrade in water quality and pressure through joining the CVRD, to which I heartily approve. Of course, we each have many thousands of dollars invested in our own well water systems, as well as the not inconsequential and unavoidable bill to join the CVRD. What about our future well water extraction? If the single applicant was granted a water sale permit from a brand new well with no requirement to establish impact on the aquifer, then we who have a long established history that equates to sustainability should have no problem reminding the provincial government that it has set a precedent. We will not require any additional extraction. In fact we only wish for permits to sell a fraction of what we have been using all along. We all enjoy the health benefits of a clean, chlorine free, slightly alkaline (pH8.2) water source, and it has commercial value!

Others should note that any change in zoning (I am not sure yet of water licences) goes along with your property, not with you as an applicant. Having licences in place will add value to your property if you decide to sell, so you do not even have to pursue the business. The permit only stipulates a maximum extraction for sale.

Of course the original intent of the OCD was to ensure sustainability of the Valley’s groundwater supply. Perhaps the provincial government should realign its policy with the OCD before our water suffers the famous ‘death by a thousand cuts.’

David A. Kelly

Courtenay

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