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LETTER: Drinking water protections do exist

From reader Will Koop

Re: “Preserve first, log second, says West Kootenay rural watershed report,” Nov. 15

Justice Mark McEwen did not have all the facts when he wrote in his 2019 Supreme Court judgement that the Glade community did not have inherent rights to clean water from their Glade Creek water supply.

Though there has never been specific provincial legislative language included, legislation has nevertheless supported rights for clean drinking water for over 100 years.

I have written a book and many reports drawing attention to these facts: www.bctwa.org. I also wrote a final report for the Glade community in 2017 (The Glade Creek Watershed Reserve), explaining that government granted the community such rights and legislation, which government and industry foresters would later ignore.

Legislation under the Land Act was implemented by government to protect drinking watershed sources on public lands from “dispositions,” such as logging and mining. The Health Act prevented public trespass in drinking watersheds. The former Game Act also protected wildlife in community watersheds. Metro Vancouver’s drinking watersheds, which provide drinking water to about half of B.C.’s citizens, were protected by these laws beginning in 1905, seven years before the establishment of the first provincial park.

We have called upon government to convene a public inquiry about its misguided activities to allow logging in formerly protected community watersheds, which we identified as one of B.C.’s top resource scandals.

The latest proposal for Glade Creek, outlined in the April 2022 Preliminary Nature-Directed Stewardship Plans for Glade and Laird Watersheds by eco-foresters, fails to protect the watershed, which the watershed reserve designation did and ought to. Twenty-one years ago we cautioned eco-foresters to keep out of community watersheds and then wrote a newsletter about it. Suspiciously, there was no mention of my 2017 report in the stewardship plan reference section.

Will Koop

B.C. Tap Water Alliance

Vancouver