Corporate water bottling proliferated in North America in the early 2000s, with local and multinational corporations buying properties, acquiring or building bottling plants, and mining groundwater for bottling in communities across Canada and the United States. A leading company in this regard, at least until early 2022, has been Nestlé Waters, and in nearly every community where Nestlé Waters has set up shop and started pumping and bottling water, anger and opposition at the community level has accompanied it

While not always completely successful in opposing water bottling in their communities, the different sites of contestation have made significant gains. In the process, they have tested a variety of approaches to community organization and policy change, and (presumably) have uncovered some consistent themes in the dynamics of activism, water governance, and the exercise of corporate power.

This project, designed and conducted in partnership with the Water Watchers, involves an in-depth look at the dynamics of community organizing and other approaches to opposing corporate water mining for bottling in several communities in the United States. Built around the Water Water’s “All Eyes on Nestlé” network building efforts of 2019 and the Story of Stuff sponsored “Nestlé Troubled Waters” coalition, this project seeks to begin documenting the stories and consolidating the experiences of communities fighting to safeguard local groundwater supplies against the exploitation of Nestle Waters and other corporate water miners.


The aims of the project are

  • To build case studies that document the efforts and experiences of opposing corporate water bottling in each of the study sites, including approaches used, successes and challenges, and the reactions of government and the corporation to the community-based opposition
  • To draw lessons, through comparative analysis of those case studies, that might reinforce those advocacy efforts and inspire other, and which contribute to the academic literature on community organization, environmental advocacy, and the operations of corporate power.



  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC); Insight Development Grant (# 430-2020-00296; June 2020-May 2024)



  • Dani Lindamood, Community Research Coordinator (Water Watchers)
  • Mina Samiee-Zafarghandy, RA Qualitative Analysis (Master of Environmental Studies, University of Waterloo)
  • Shannon Brandreth, (Masters of Public Interest Anthropology, University of Waterloo)


Principle Investigator:        

Dr. Robert A. Case, Associate Professor, Social Development Studies
Renison University College (Affiliated with University of Waterloo), Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
[email protected]; website