Sharing water is neighbourly

As winter melts away all at once, leaving the city slushy and puddly, it’s hard to imagine ever running out of water.

Nanaimo decided this week to share its water with Lantzville, as city council voted Monday to sign a long-term agreement to allow the smaller municipality to tap into the pipes.

The District of Lantzville has been asking Nanaimo for a sip of water for seven years, concerned about the well-being of its wells. At last, the neighbouring municipalities might be able to work out a deal that’s acceptable to both sides. Lantzville would pay Nanaimo by the litre, build its own network of pipes and boost its contribution to arts and culture and economic development in the region.

City council wasn’t unanimous in approving the agreement, but the terms sound water-tight for Nanaimo. Lantzville has to pay to access the water, pay to use it, and pay a little more for good measure.

Those opposed to the plan imagine Nanaimo’s reservoirs running dry, but that’s mostly guesswork. The city is investing a lot of money, right now, to ensure quantities of clean, clear drinking water for the foreseeable future. Population growth could stress our supply, but it’s hard to predict. Global warming could leave us high and dry, but long-term weather forecasts are an inexact science.

If the reservoirs do run out of water, there’s a clause in the water deal that allows Nanaimo to turn off Lantzville’s taps. It would be unconscionable to refuse the neighbours a drink of water when they’re thirsty, though, so we trust it would never come to that.

Today, our socks are soaked and the cuffs of our trousers are soggy and we’ve got a lot more water than we need, or want. It’s the right thing to do to share this natural resource we were gifted, one that continues to fall from the sky, for free, day after day.

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