World Water Day sees focus on threatened B.C. lake

Planet Earth

Source: The Vancouver Sun

 By TIFFANY CRAWFORD,

Vancouver Sun

March 22, 2010

Meera Karunananthan, a spokeswoman for the Council of Canadians, standing in front of Fish Lake southwest of Williams Lake. The group is fighting to save the lake from being destroyed by a mining company.
 

Meera Karunananthan, a spokeswoman for the Council of Canadians, standing in front of Fish Lake

southwest of Williams Lake.The group is fighting to save the lake from being destroyed by a mining company.

Photograph by: Brent Patterson, Handout

 

As countries observed World Water Day on Monday, a Canadian group focused on saving a British Columbia fish-bearing lake and nearby creek from destruction.

At a public hearing in Williams Lake, the Ottawa-based Council of Canadians urged a federal review panel to reject a proposed mining project about 200 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake. The hearing was packed by about 300 people.

The proposal is by Vancouver-based Taseko Mines, which says it must destroy a lake and a creek in order to mine a copper-gold deposit.

Taseko says the lake is right beside the deposit and it is not realistic to have the mine and preserve the lake.

Taseko has offered to compensate for the loss of the lake by building an artificial one elsewhere.

But the CAC argues that destroying Fish Lake through the dumping of toxic waste will kill about 85,000 trout, causing a food shortage for first nations.

The group fears the tainted water will also affect salmon because the toxins will contaminate the Taseko River, which connects through a tributary to the Fraser River. ...

 


Meera Karunananthan, a spokeswoman for the CAC, said the Tsilhqot'in people in the area live, on average, on less than $10,000 a year.

"Their well-being is contingent on the ability to fish, pick berries and hunt in the area. The proposed destruction of [Fish Lake] and the surrounding area will drive many in these communities to abject poverty," she said.

She said many environmental groups are concerned about a section of the federal Fisheries Act that allows mining companies to dump their waste into lakes by redefining them as "tailing impoundment areas."

Meanwhile, an environmental group in Newfoundland said it will mount a legal challenge of that section of the Act.

Ken Kavanagh, spokesman for the new Pond Alliance for the Protection of Canadian Waters, said the challenge is aimed at protecting Sandy Pond near Long Harbour, NL, which has already been approved for use as a dump site for the toxic waste of a nickel mining project by Vale Inco, a Toronto-based Brazilian-owned company.

International World Water Day, held annually on March 22, is an initiative that began after a 1992 United Nations conference on environment and development in Rio de Janeiro.

It's aimed at highlighting how worldwide water quality is declining because of human activity. An increased number of people and industries are factors that contribute to the deterioration of water quality.

ticrawford@vancouversun.com

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