World Water Day highlights concerns in B.C., from Shawnigan to Spallumcheen

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waterVICTORIA— New Democrat leader John Horgan and New Democrat environment spokesperson George Heyman released the following statements recognizing World Water Day:

John Horgan:

“Today on World Water Day we celebrate a major victory for Shawnigan Lake residents who have been fighting for years to protect the safety of their water. In 2013, the Christy Clark government granted permission for a company to dump 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil uphill from the community’s water source. On Monday, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that soil dumping is not a permitted use on the property. It’s great news for Shawnigan Lake residents and for all those who have supported them.

“Here in British Columbia, protecting fresh water is a growing concern. Water is life – it is of fundamental importance to ecological health and sustains our communities and economies across the province. On World Water Day, let’s celebrate our wealth of magnificent rivers, lakes, aquifers, and watersheds, and acknowledge that bad decisions can put this life-sustaining resource at risk.

George Heyman:

“Many others in British Columbia are still waiting for the Christy Clark government to step in and protect their right to safe drinking water.

“In Spallumcheen, the Christy Clark government has allowed a local farmer to continue to spray liquid manure on property above the local aquifer, despite knowing that this practice has led to elevated nitrate levels in the drinking water and has caused a water-quality advisory to be issued by Interior Health. Despite the dangers, the Christy Clark government has refused to release important public health information to the residents of the Hullcar Valley, Spallumcheen and the Splatsin First Nation.

“There are also widespread issues of high lead levels in communities across the province. In the North West, Ministry of Health staff flagged possible water contamination in schools four years ago, but it wasn’t until last month that elevated lead levels were discovered in the drinking water of four Prince Rupert schools. In Pemberton, the municipality has issued a warning to residents that their tap water may have high levels of lead.

“Protecting our right to clean water is one of the most critical jobs a government has. This World Water Day, let’s celebrate our province’s wealth of water, and keep fighting for the clean, safe, accessible water that all British Columbians deserve. British Columbians deserve a government that makes protecting fresh water a priority.”