EDITORIAL: Safe water should be a basic right

EDITORIAL: Safe water should be a basic right

Not all water users are equal under Capital region policy

The Sooke Lake Reservoir is coming up to it’s 105th anniversary.

It’s the source of Greater Victoria’s regional water supply system – a system that supplies clean and safe drinking water to more than 370,000 people in the capital region.

And for those who are on a water system supplied by the reservoir, water is barely a passing thought.

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You need only turn the tap and what Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks has described as “crazy good” water flows into your home.

That water supply, however, came as a result of a significant investment on the part of the greater population; a cost that was shared among all the ratepayers in the region with substantial support from senior levels of government.

Fast forward to today where those area residents who aren’t on the system, including significant portions of the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area west of Victoria, continues a sort of Third World water subsistence by virtue of the fact that they were never connected to that “crazy good” water supply.

It’s not Hicks’ fault. If anything, he has championed the cause of clean water for his constituents for years.

The fault, if fault is to be found, is based on the philosophy that now exists within the Capital Regional District that any extension of water lines to new areas should be borne exclusively by the ratepayers who will benefit from such extensions.

It seems that residents in Oak Bay, Saanich, or other communities have forgotten the history of how they got clean water in the first place and now have no appetite to pay any portion of supplying the same service to others.

Extending water lines come at a cost of about $1,000 a metre so, in the words of Billie Holiday, “Them that’s got shall get, Them that’s not shall lose. So the Bible says.”

The consequences of that CRD water philosophy include people who have found themselves without potable water for years at a time. Others watch as development endangers the water they have. Still others draw surface water from creeks or haul water in for their basic needs.

And it all comes down to money.

But as our populations grow, the calls for clean water for all will increase and, perhaps, the CRD’s current policy will be re-examined.

We can only hope.

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