Friday, May 21, 2010

Water export legislation exempts bottled water

The federal government recently surprised skeptics like me with legislation to restrict bulk water exports. However, there's a problem here:

A federal government plan to strengthen a ban on bulk water exports is undermined by a loophole allowing significant water removal for exports of bottled water, critics said yesterday.

Ottawa MP Paul Dewar, the New Democratic Party's environment critic, signalled amendments will be sought to a proposed bill to strengthen the existing ban against bulk water exports by extending it to more than 80 rivers and streams that cross the U.S.-Canada border. "Canada will continue to export water in bulk, just in small individual containers instead of giant containers," said Joe Cressy of the Polaris Institute, a research and advocacy organization that is campaigning against bottled water. "The bill is a first step but it doesn't go far enough."

The new legislation is intended to thwart the diversion of river water south to the U.S. through such means as dams, aqueducts, canals and pipelines.

From the Montreal Gazette (h/t pogge). There may be other issues too -- the Council of Canadians is concerned about what else might not be covered:
Council of Canadians national water campaigner Meera Karunananthan says, “We don’t see Bill C-26 as a ban on bulk water exports. It does not appear to cover waters that are not boundary or transboundary waters.”
In other words, if someone were to draw water from the Churchill River and haul it away in supertankers, that would be just dandy under this legislation. Is this likely? Hard to say. The CoC's Maude Barlow notes here that the right wing think tanks have had their eyes on Arctic water for some time, though.

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