Archive for April, 2011

The following was submitted to us in the comments section by Sieglinde Stieda, founder of the Water Watch | Mission-Abbotsford.  As it is very interesting, I have taken the liberty of putting it into a blog post as well

“Don’t Buy the Lie: Myths of Privatization” by Vandana Shiva

“Myth 1: Privatization is necessary because society and governments do not have the capital investment in water schemes.

The Reality: Water corporations do not bring investment. They use World Bank/IMF loans that have water privatization as a condition built into them. The investment is public, the profits are private. The same mechanisms and policies that privatize water also impoverish municipalities, and local governments by reducing tax collections and revenue generation at local and regional level.”
[In Mission/Abbotsford, PPP Canada and Partnerships BC, play the dubious role of creating privatization as a condition of getting government dollars. Murray Dobbin has this to say: “Partnerships BC. It’s the Crown corporation that promotes public-private partnerships, or P3s, and the more one delves into this little-known outfit, the more it feels like Alice in Wonderland. Partnerships BC has turned accountability on its head. It promotes government deals that actually guarantee we pay more and get less. Shortly after prominent B.C. Liberal supporter Larry Blain was appointed CEO of PBC in 2003, he told a Vancouver audience that “Our job is to drag government kicking and screaming into the marketplace—that’s our mandate. Our corporate interests are aligned with the markets.” Blain’s contract shows that he is partly compensated (with bonuses of up to 70 percent of his base pay of $275,000) on the basis of performance—and this performance is defined as moving P3s forward. Public-private partnerships, really just a user-friendly name for privatization, vary from project to project.”

“Myth 2: Water must be priced and made a marketable commodity because water available for free has led to overexploitation. Commodification will lead to conservation.

The Reality: The water crisis results from an erroneous equation of value with monetary price. However, resources can often have very high value while having no price. Sacred sites like forests and rivers are examples of resources that have very high value but no price. Oceans, rivers, and other bodies of water have played important roles as metaphors for our relationship to the planet. Diverse cultures have different value systems through which the ethical, ecological, and economic behavior of society is guided and shaped. Similarly, the idea that life is sacred puts a high value on living systems and prevents their commodification.

Conservation is based on sacred values and ecological values. Sacred waters have no price, they cannot be commodified. Market value destroys spiritual and ecological values.

Markets create incentives for overexploitation, not for conservation or equitable distribution.”

Myth 3: Water privatization is necessary to make water supply more efficient and reliable, and to increase access to clean water.

The Reality: Privatization has reduced water access by increasing water costs. Once the water giants enter the picture, water prices go up. In Sibic Bay, the Philippines, Biwater increased water rates by 400 percent. In France, customer fees increased 150 percent but water quality deteriorated. A French government report revealed that more than 5.2 million people received ‘bacterially unacceptable water.’ In England, water rates increased by 450 percent, company profits soared by 692 percent, and CEO salaries increased by an astonishing 708 percent. Meanwhile, service disconnection increased by 50 percent, dysentery increased six-fold, and the British Medical Association condemned water privatization for its health effects.

In 1998, shortly after Sydney’s water was taken over by Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux, it was contaminated with high levels of giardia and cryptosporidium. After water testing had been privatized by A&L Labs, in Walkerton, Ontario, seven people, including a baby, died as a result of E. coli. The company treated the test results as ‘confidential intellectual property’ and refused to make them public, In Argentina, when a by Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux subsidiary purchased the state-run water company Obras Sanitarias de la Nacion, water rates doubled but water quality deteriorated. The company was forced to leave the country when residents refused to pay their bills.

Myth 4: Water privatization will reduce the power of government and hence increase the role of citizens, thus enhancing democracy.

The Reality: Water privatization is taking place through private-public partnerships between large corrupt corporations and corrupt government officials by circumventing all checks and balances of public participation, public planning, and public transparency. Private-public partnerships assume the only private is corporations and the only public is centralized governments.

Privatization allows centralized governments to usurp the rights of communities and local authorities, lay claim to the water commons and sell them off to private companies which then sell the water back to those to whom it originally belonged. Governments start to operate on the eminent domain principle rather than the public trust doctrine, thus undermining and subverting democracy.”

Myth 5: Privatization establishes property rights to water, which gives water value and helps regulate water use.

The Reality: Water is a commons, not private property. More than any other resource, water needs to remain a common good and requires community management. In fact, in most societies, private ownership of water has been prohibited. Ancient texts such as the Institute of Justinian show that water and other natural sources are public goods. ‘By the law of nature these things are common to mankind – the air, running water, the sea, and consequently, the shore of the seas.’
In countries like India, space, air, water, and energy have traditionally been viewed as being outside the realm of property relations. In Islamic traditions, the Sharia, which originally connoted the ‘path to water’, provides the ultimate basis for the right to water.
Private property creates regulation by the market and creates the cowboy economy of ‘might is right.’ This leads to environmental and social deregulation, encouraging non-sustainable use and unjust distribution.’

[ In the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada, the Stó:lõ people have understood for thousands of years that natural resources are the commons and can’t be private property. Before all meetings concerning the land question in the early twentieth century, the Stó:lõ spoke this statement before all meetings:

“Sʼólh Téméxw te í kwʼélò Xólhmet te mekwʼstám ít Kwelát. ”

“This is our land. We have to look after everything that belongs to us.” ]

“Myth 6: Water is not a human right, it is merely a human need.

The Reality: Water has traditionally been treated as a natural right – a right arising out of nature, historic conditions, basic needs, or notions of justice. Water rights as natural rights do not originate with the state; they evolve out of a given ecological context of human existence.

As natural rights, water rights, are usufructuary rights ; water can be used but not owned. People have a right to life and therefore to the resources that sustain it, including water.

That is why governments and corporations cannot alienate people of their water rights. Water rights come from nature and creation. They flow from the laws of nature, not from the rules of the market.”

Pages 34 to from Troubled water: saints, sinners, truth and lies about the global water crisis. Anita Roddick with Brooke Shelby Biggs. 2004. “Britain’s outspoken environmentalist takes on the global water shortage, exploring the problems and solutions, and providing resources for ordinary readers to get involved. Contains 14 essays with useful facts and figures about water and everyday life. Full colour.” Isbn 0-954-3959 3x Email: staff@anitaroddick.com

compiled by Sieglinde Stieda, founder of the Water Watch | Mission-Abbotsford facebook page: http://facebook.com/WaterWatchMissionAbbotsford

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Powell River Water Watch Coalition is very pleased to welcome our newest member: the Georgia Strait Alliance.  The Georgia Strait Alliance’s mission is to protect and restore the marine environment and promote the sustainability of Georgia Strait, its adjoining waters and communities.

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Press Release from the City of Powell River

The City of Powell River issued a press release today regarding a new round of public consultations pertaining to the Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP) process.  This is an agenda item for this Thursday’s Townsite Ratepayers Association meeting (7:00pm @ St. David & St. Paul Anglican Church on Sycamore Street).


  • OPEN HOUSE – MAY 10, time & location TBA
  • DISCUSSION SESSION – MAY 17, time & location TBA
  • TOWN HALL MEETING – date, time location TBA

11 April 2011

New round of public consultations on the Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP) process The City of Powell River is launching a new round of public consultations on the Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP) process in order to clarify the facts and gather community input. “I’m really looking forward to hearing from the community so that we can move forward in resolving our sewage treatment issues,” says Councillor Jim Palm, Joint Local/Technical Advisory Committee (JAC) Chair. The new LWMP consultation plan was unanimously approved by the JAC on 28 March 2011.

Consultations will be comprised of three phases and corresponding public events:

  • Information phase. An open house on May 10 will provide detailed information on the LWMP and the options under consideration. Citizens will have the opportunity to speak directly to those who are most knowledgeable about the process—LWMP committee members and City staff.
  • Dialogue phase. A discussion session guided by a neutral facilitator is scheduled for 17 May 2011. This session will be based on the World Café conversation model, creating a relaxed, nonconfrontational experience that allows participants to share ideas, comments, and concerns. The facilitator will prepare a report from the recorded feedback and submit it to the LWMP committees, which will make recommendations to Council in June.
  • Accountability phase. A Town Hall meeting (date TBA) where Council will report back on how community input assisted in making the final decision on a treatment option.

The consultations will build on the work done to date by the two committees which were formed in accordance with Ministry of Environment requirements. The first committee is the JAC made up of a wide range of individuals and community representatives, plus technical experts who identify and evaluate treatment options and the Ministry of Environment Environmental Protection Officer. The JAC is not a decision making body, their mandate is to provide public review and identify key issues and ideas for consideration by the City. The second is the Steering Committee, comprised of members of Council and representatives from the Powell River Regional District and the Sliammon First Nation, who guide the JAC, receive information and make recommendations to Council.

Back in 2000, the original plan was to create a stand-alone consolidated treatment plant, replacing the facilities in Westview, Wildwood and Townsite. A chart of factors was developed—a matrix—to help in the decision as to where to site a consolidated plant. Once the JAC had identified a number of options, the results were presented to the public at the first LWMP Open House in June 2004. Feedback was incorporated into a report in 2005, and this plan was approved by the Province in January 2006.

Between 2005 and 2010, the LWMP project was affected by changes in council and events such as the reduction in major industry taxation income. During this time, three of the four potential site options were withdrawn by the property owners.

By 2007, the Steering Committee began an investigation into new sites for a consolidated sewage treatment facility. That same year, the co-treatment option evolved out of ongoing discussions between the City and Catalyst. It became a viable option because it met technical criteria as determined by consulting engineers.

Powell River is now in the third and final stage of the Ministry of Environment’s LWMP process. As part of this process, the upcoming public consultations will examine two wastewater treatment options: (a) a consolidated plant located at the old clarifier site in the Townsite, the former waste transfer site, or the existing Townsite facility, or (b) co-treatment at Catalyst’s existing site. The matrix of site factors will be used if option (a) is chosen, as it will assist in determining the best location for a consolidated facility. The co-treatment option would not require use of the matrix because minimal new construction would occur at a site which is already treating wastewater.

Readers may get involved in the LWMP process by attending JAC meetings (check dates online), viewing reports and documents available online at http://powellriver.ca, emailing questions to info@cdpr.bc.ca and attending the consultation events 10 and 17 May, 2011.

For further information:
Marie Claxton
City Clerk


The development of a Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP) is subject to provincial guidelines laid out by the Ministry of Environment and as such is separated into three stages of development and approval:

Stage 1:

  • Develop concepts of waste management options
  • Culminates with a report on a set of realistic options
  • Results in a detailed list of waste management options
  • Identifies types of facilities requiring operational certificates

Stage 2:

  • Examine options and associated costs in detail
  • Results in a draft waste management plan
  • Identifies requirements to be included in operational certificates for specific facilities

Stage 3:

  • Select a final option, complete with discharge standards, implementation schedule, cost estimates and proposed financing
  • Results in a final waste management plan
  • Preparation of draft Operational Certificates

Public consultation:

At every stage, municipalities are required to include provision for public input. Municipalities have the freedom to tailor the process to their situation as the public participation process chosen “will depend on the unique blend of population characteristics and information channels in the municipality.” The Ministry of Environment defines a meaningful public participation process as meeting the following criteria:

  • Involvement by the general public in the planning process begins as early as possible and continues through to the plan’s adoption and beyond implementation and monitoring stages;
  • Encouragement of the involvement of a wide range of community interests and stakeholders, both in terms of general review at various stages and the advisory committee structure;
  • Allows for the open exchange of information between all parties, including advisory committees;
  • Provides the public with opportunities for direct consultation with appropriate officials, including representatives of the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Environment Canada, local medical health officers, etc.;
  • Encourages public support and commitment to the public involvement program by allowing public participation in the design of the program;
  • Ensures public concerns are integrated into the planning process and are given consideration in combination with technical advice.

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Water Watcher and Tyee Journalist Murray Dobbin was interviewed on 95.7 Sun FM today about Powell River’s plans for liquid waste management:

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