Alberni watershed in the hands of forest industry

A popular new meme describes water as the new oil of the 21st Century.

While we’re not quite there yet in Canada, our appreciation of this precious resource we may be lagging behind in places like our green Alberni Valley because of our relatively abundant wealth.

Water pours from our skies, fills our lakes and flows clean from our taps.

But billions of people on this planet are keenly aware of the value of water. And its value increases with each passing year as global temperatures rise and deserts spread.

Only about 2.5 per cent of water on earth is fresh. Of that, less than a single per cent is actually drinkable.

This may be one of the rare years in history that we in the Alberni Valley worry about water.

The uncommonly mild winter and low snowpack leaves little runoff to fill our reservoirs, which could lead to shortages and heavier than usual restrictions this summer.

Mayor Mike Ruttan has spoken earnestly about the “basic human right” to fresh water and insisted that Port Alberni must gain total control over the China Creek watershed, to ensure that residents here are guaranteed access to an essential resource.

Island Timberlands currently owns land in the watershed, and logging on McLaughlin Ridge has made city councillors nervous. But the city doesn’t have enough money to purchase the land.

Can we trust forestry companies to safeguard our drinking water? Or should the government assert control? Is government more efficient than private companies at managing our natural resources?

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