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24th December 2016

Cowichan Valley posted Dec 21, 2016 at 8:00 AM
Itís kind of like telling people theyíre going to have to pay again for the truck they bought 15 years ago.

Not only that, but now thereís going to be an ongoing charge every year in perpetuity.

We fully understand farmer Leo Kasbergenís ire at being told heís going to get dinged financially, under new rules being brought in by the provincial government, for the groundwater well he dug years ago on his property.

He paid $15,000 for it at the time. Isnít that enough?

Why should he suddenly have to start paying the government for using it?

On the face of it, it seems pretty absurd, like something that would exist in a novel about a dystopian future rather than our B.C. reality.

There are some good intentions behind the new rules.

Requiring everyone to register their groundwater wells, for example, is something we think is an excellent idea.

Water is one of the most precious resources we have, and around the world it is becoming more scarce.

This summer in the Cowichan Valley we suffered a drought that threatened to disrupt everything from industry to fisheries and First Nations culture.

For the first time ever Catalyst, the company that owns the Crofton mill and operates the weir at Lake Cowichan, installed pumps to pump water over that weir to feed the Cowichan River, so alarming was the drop in water levels. The pumps did not need to be used, but it is only a matter of time before such measures do become necessary.

This is far from the first drought weíve experienced here in recent years.

We are told that we can expect this to be the new normal.

So knowing whoís drawing water from where and how much makes perfect sense. In fact, itís surprising that we donít already have some way to collect this information.

We fully support the province in its efforts to create a map of this data.

Itís vital to everything from responsible community planning to water conservation efforts.

However, it seems unfair to suddenly bill users like Kasbergen who thought they had paid their dues.

Kasbergen brings up a further excellent point when he questions the government sending him a bill when corporations such as Nestle are drawing millions upon millions of litres of our precious resource for mere pennies.

At the least, further explanation is required.