Nestlé’s 10-year water renewal bid for Aberfoyle
must be stopped – Wellington Water Watchers
Despite no data on how drought or climate change will affect Guelph’s water supply in years to come, Nestlé Waters of Aberfoyle has filed for an unprecedented 10-year provincial permit to take up to 3.6 million litres of water per day from the Grand River watershed.
“This is far too long and way too much,” states Mike Nagy, board member for Wellington Water Watchers (WWW), the Guelph-based advocacy group that is fighting the renewal, which could be approved by the province as soon as March 5. “In fact, there are many aspects of this proposed Nestlé-Ministry of Environment agreement that should raise red flags for all Guelph-area citizens who care about water issues.
“Not only is the price of water-taking set by the Ministry astonishingly low – a minuscule $3.71 for each million litres – but taxpayers must pay the price of dealing with a huge recycling and waste issue for the tens of millions of plastic bottles used annually by Nestlé to sell water,” Nagy adds.
Further, Nestlé needs to be clear about where its PureLife bottled product is being sold, and pledge to keep it local. “If they are going to be allowed to bottle our groundwater, then it should be put in deposit-bearing glass bottles – like beer – and not permitted to be sold outside the Grand River watershed,” Nagy says.
The issue of keeping water in the watershed is based on Justice Dennis O’Connor’s advice to the Ontario government following the Walkerton tragedy in 2000. O’Connor stressed that water should be managed on a watershed basis. WWW board member Andre Hueniken explains: “After Justice O’Connor’s report was published, 27 Source Protection Committees were set up across the province, and it’s clear that each source protection region has unique issues.
“In our Grand River watershed, we are much more dependent on groundwater for our source of drinking water than most other places in Ontario, maybe most other places in Canada, with the exception of Prince Edward Island,” Hueniken points out.“
Guelph is 85 to 90 per cent dependent on groundwater as the source of drinking water, Hueniken says, making this a local issue that is unique in Canada. “We could build a pipeline to the Great Lakes, but the quality of the water from a deep aquifer like ours, the Amabel, is so much better than surface water from the Great Lakes, that it just seems a shame to let Nestlé take this pure natural resource, bottle it and ship it outside of the watershed day after day.”
WWW also points out that while Nestle has complied with the MOE’s water conservation plan in its application, it has just ticked off the appropriate boxes on the renewal application ‘check list’ but gives no details and offers no targets – and is attempting to lock in the permit just before new and stricter regulations are expected to be introduced by the province.
“At the very most, the maximum volume of water allowed in any new Nestlé agreement should be no more than the maximum taken in 2010, which was 1.6 million litres per day,” Mike Nagy says. “And then it should be reduced by at least 1.56 percent per year after that, consistent with Ontario’s initiatives on sustainable water use.”
WWW has asked the Ministry of Environment to extend the comment period for Nestlé permit beyond March 3, in order to give individual citizens and groups adequate time to make their concerns and objections known.
For the full version of WWW’s comments on the Nestlé application to the MOE, go to: http://www.wellingtonwaterwatchers.ca
For more information:
Mike Nagy, WWW Board Member
Andre Hueniken, WWW Board Member