Several Quebec mayors are vowing to fight a new law that they say would take away their power to protect their communities’ drinking water.

Bill 106 is meant to provide a framework for energy exploration in the province but the mayors said it gives too much power to oil companies to push ahead even in regions that oppose them.

“Right now, we have oil companies that have claims on territory,” said Anticosti Mayor John Pineault. “Those claims are going to change categories. They’re going to become a property if they wish.”

Pineault said that means land could be expropriated against owners’ wishes and overrule municipal regulations protecting drinking water.

“We have very little fresh water on the island and when… it takes 16 to 20 million litres to frack one well, it doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

Ristigouche Mayor Francois Boulay said his small town’s attempt to fight oil exploration ended with them being sued for $1.5 million.

“If it’s adopted, it basically strips us of any say in the matter and gives a white card to companies… to come in to use water, our drinking water, that’s used in the process of fracking,” he said of Bill 106.

The group of mayors said they are determined to remain in solidarity with each other. Austin Mayor Lisette Maille said even though her own town isn’t threatened, she will stand with those who are.

“Even though we don’t have the threat in our municipality, if it’s not this time, it could be something else next time,” she said. “So, we have to be strong and firm against the government and say you have to work with the citizens.”

Hearings on Bill 106 ended last week and a vote is expected to take place in the fall.