Clean water should be a fundamental human right but for many in the District of Sooke, water remains an issue. (Black Press Media)

EDITORIAL: Sooke Region’s water supply a growing challenge

Clean water should be a basic right

By one estimate, more than a billion people on our planet lack access to clean water.

But it’s a problem most often associated with the third world and we’ve become accustomed to seeing televised appeals for donations to help provide clean, safe water to people in those parts of the world.

We cluck our tongues and many of us send our donations to help alleviate the problem.

Water, after all, is an essential part of the world we want to live in; a fundamental human need and, some may argue, right.

Yet last week saw another boil water advisory for the 71 residents of the Wilderness Mountain Water System, located near the top of Mount Matheson.

It’s the second such advisory in just seven months.

And the folks on Mount Matheson aren’t alone.

There are currently 39 such advisories in place in B.C., and one of those, the Misty Ridge Community Water Co., also located by Mount Matheson, has had that advisory in place for almost two years.

Two years.

In truth there are significant parts of the our fast growing community that still struggle to access clean water.

The problem, at least in part, is that as homes were built, there was never a coherent plan for the provision of water in the region.

The resulting hodgepodge of private and public water services has left gaping holes in the overall system.

And government has been slow to act.

Take Shirley, for example, 300 residents depend on Goudie Creek and the surrounding watershed for their water. Yet when Western Forest Products made a move that could endanger the water needed by the community, the response from government officials (excluding Mike Hicks and a few others) was crickets.

In another example, some of the many homes that still rely on wells for their water had the tenuous nature of that supply highlighted when John Horgan came to town to announce the improvements to Highway 14. It seemed that a number of homes were going to lose their wells as the highway was pushed through, but no worries, they were promised that they “would be made whole”.

They didn’t seem convinced.

In the weeks to come, the Sooke News Mirror will examine the question of water in our community.

Our hope is to highlight the problems and, just maybe, spur some action on this fundamental human need.

Stay tuned.

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