So many people in this province are fed up with seeing their watersheds and freshwater sources getting trashed. Whether it’s giant ponds of radioactive fracking waste; toxic mine waste draining into salmon rivers, landslides and floods getting worse from clearcut logging and climate change, or over-extraction of water, there is a better path forward than the one we’re on.
That’s why we launched CodeBlue BC just over a year ago, in collaboration with some amazing champions for clean water. CodeBlue is not your average environmental campaign. It is a plan to secure and sustain the health of B.C.’s watersheds for the long term, with a growing movement of people supporting it. Thousands of British Columbians have made calls and sent emails asking elected officials to better protect and invest in B.C.’s freshwater sources, and give First Nations and other local people more of a say in what happens in their home watersheds.
We are also helping to lead the efforts of the new BC Watershed Security Coalition, formed in spring 2020 to ensure the government’s economic recovery measures were creating watershed-friendly jobs in B.C. communities. These efforts are paying off with several positive advancements for watershed security.
In 2020, the provincial government committed $27 million to watershed restoration projects through the Healthy Watersheds Initiative. And thanks in large part to calls and emails by CodeBlue BC supporters, the provincial government has committed to creating a watershed security strategy and fund to better protect our freshwater. They have also promised to make the owners of large industrial projects get bonded moving forward so that they—and not B.C. taxpayers—pay the full costs of cleaning up any mess they leave behind.
But these are just promises, and after 100 days in office for Premier Horgan’s new government, it’s time for action. Our friends at the POLIS Project—an ecological think tank—have laid out a brilliant roadmap for what that should look like. The list is long, but the top priorities are implementation of the Water Sustainability Act, protecting water flows for fish, protecting our drinking water sources from pollution and over-extraction, restoring and protecting habitat, and putting in the dollars necessary to make these things happen through the promised watershed security fund. We are also on guard to make sure the government’s promised watershed security strategy actually leads to stronger protections and better management of our watersheds. We don’t need another government process trap that wastes everyone’s time in endless meetings while our lands and waters continue to be plundered and degraded.
Here at Watershed Watch we will be working closely with our allies to push the government hard on these things, working directly with government to guide their work, and mobilizing the CodeBlue BC community to kick up a fuss until the work gets done.