Water-bottling fees to be re-examined, says B.C. Premier Christy Clark

Drenched in controversy, the provincial government has bowed to public pressure and will ​reconsider how much companies such as Nestlé are charged to bottle B.C. water.

More than 218,000 people have signed a petition saying province should charge a fair price

The province is giving in to public pressure and will ​reconsider how much companies such as Nestlé are charged to access B.C. water. (Associated Press)

Drenched in controversy, the provincial government has bowed to public pressure and will ​reconsider how much companies such as Nestlé are charged to bottle B.C. water.

More than 218,000 people have signed an online petition saying the province should charge a fair price for groundwater. 

Bottlers do not pay anything to access the province's water, but regulations set to start next year would involve a charge of $2.25 per one million litres. 

"It is outrageous that Nestlé can draw limitless amounts of Canada's natural resources to sell for a huge profit while British Columbians are asked to not water our lawns and take shorter showers," says the petition website.

The province says the charge is an access fee and water is not being sold as a resource.

But now Premier Christy Clark is now considering reopening the Water Act and re-examining pricing for the big water bottlers.

"What we have heard is people say they don`t think it is appropriate. They think we should be at the top end charging for some of that water that the big bottlers are extracting," she said. 

Opposition NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert says the current situation is shameful.

"We are not getting the value we need for our water to properly protect it," said Herbert. "You need to properly value water so that we can put those resources back into environmental conservation."

But critics of the petition, such as former MLA Judi Tayabji, are opposed to the move, saying the charges would turn B.C.'s groundwater into an export commodity, making it subject to international trade deals, such as NAFTA and the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement, which B.C. cannot control.

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