A new report from B.C.’s Auditor General confirms what Ecojustice already knows: The province is not doing enough to protect our groundwater.

Both the quantity (from overuse) and quality (from industrial contamination) of B.C.’s groundwater are at risk, which threatens our environment, economy and communities.

A quarter of the province relies on groundwater. Many streams throughout the province depend on groundwater replenishment, particularly during dry periods — like the drought the B.C. Interior experienced last summer.

The potential lack of clean water also poses a major threat to our economy. Not only would it be a severe blow to our hospitality sector, but widespread water shortages or contamination would require development — at the taxpayers’ expense — of new water sources and the relocation of existing facilities.

The Auditor General’s report makes seven recommendations, notably the establishment of a groundwater a management system — a move Ecojustice has long-supported.

B.C.’s Ministry of Environment needs to lead on this initiative.

That however, might be made difficult given recently announced plans to strip the ministry of many of its water governance responsibilities. Those duties will now fall under the purview of the newly-created Ministry of Natural Resource Operations.

Meanwhile, in response to the report, the Ministry of Environment said it already employs groundwater protection measures. The ministry also said it would cost an extra $4.5 million in spending to implement the report’s recommendations.

While $4.5 million is a lot of money, the cost of doing nothing easily eclipses that figure.

We say $4.5 million — $1 for each person in B.C. — isn’t an unreasonable investment if it means proper management of our water stores.