Water protection ignored

The District of Peachland recently asked the minister of forests to stop clear cut logging in our watersheds long enough to do a comprehensive study; a full assessment of the health and function-ability of our watersheds.

So, it is not surprising that one month later the same ministry’s toothless watchdog, the Forestry Practices Board, hustled out a report saying only past logging and road building practices are to blame for reductions in the community drinking water quality, quantity and timing of flow. 

ATVs, cattle and mining, too, are at fault but current logging practices are only a minor threat, according to this investigative arm of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development. 

By continuing to do the minimum necessary to protect our water and other watershed values while profiting on timber harvesting, the four current licensees operating within Peachland watershed boundaries are meeting their legal obligations under the Forest and Range Practices Regulations. They are legally squeaking under the bar because according to the FPB it was not possible to differentiate between forestry and non-forestry impacts. 

When in doubt, blame climate change!

This is the problem, the outdated FRPA regulations allow toxins to be spilled into our water supply so long as our municipality can afford to dump chlorine back into it until drinkable for human standards. This is fine, according to provincial regulations. These FRPA guidelines only allow water, wildlife, stream health, fish, recreation and other values to be projected IF it does not cut into timber supply, log hauling, harvesting volume and profits.

The logging industry is king in B.C., your drinking water, a distant second. 

Our council has seen the watershed. First Nation elders have seen the watershed. They were shocked, and both have demanded a pause in aggressive logging activities until an independent review of the watershed integrity is performed.

Communities across B.C. deal with this all the time. For years, we have battled for our water.

An entire collection of resource industries are enabled by toothless watchdogs like FPB, who admit to being neutered by their own narrow scope.

The system is broken – we know it, our council knows it, the licensees know it, and the provincial government knows it. So, now let’s fix it and give municipalities a say in the activities permitted in community watersheds where supplying clean, abundant, consistent drinking water should be the dominant use. Let’s set the bar for water security higher.

Robert Taylor, Peachland

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