Toronto’s NOW Magazine reports, “Deep beneath the country roads in Wellington County, where Toronto’s yawning sprawl reverts to rolling farmland, sits a hell of a lot of water. All that H2O is a major cash resource for the country’s biggest bottler, multinational food giant Nestlé. Since the late 80s, the company has pumped up and shipped out billions of litres from the Hillsburgh aquifer, with what amounts to a free pass from provincial regulators – until last year.”
“That’s when the Ministry of the Environment bowed to community pressure and tacked a new restriction onto the firm’s permit. Before okaying the taking of over 1 million litres of water a day (at only $3.71 a day) plus permit costs, it demanded that Nestlé ease off water use by 10 to 20 per cent during times of official drought. But Nestlé appealed, and the MOE quietly proposed a settlement with the water giant on the side, effectively removing mandatory drought restriction conditions from the permit. An environmental review tribunal is set to announce any day now whether it agrees with the MOE’s climb-down.”
Wellington Water Watchers and the Council of Canadians, with legal representation by Ecojustice, have challenged this before Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal.
Voluntary vs. mandatory
“Nestlé Waters Canada says it has always complied with requests to voluntarily reduce water usage during drought and that ‘no other municipal or commercial water users in the watershed would be required to comply in the event of drought except Nestlé Waters, even though many of them draw considerably more water.’ …Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui says Nestlé’s use of water is entirely ‘consumptive’, meaning it does not get returned to the watershed but is transported out of the region. And if Nestlé is voluntarily reducing its water usage during droughts, then it should have no problem adhering to mandatory restrictions.’”
Restrictions vs. pump test
“Nestlé hopes the MOE will replace automatic drought restrictions with a seven-day pump test to see how droughts affect Nestlé source water, which the company maintains has no impact on the community’s groundwater levels. However, the Council says the test is way too narrow and fails to assess the aquifer as well as streams, wetlands and waterways outside of Nestlé’s monitoring range. Says Lui: ‘Restricting the amount of water Nestlé can pump during droughts would show the government respects its role as a trustee of our common water resources.’”
The Environmental Review Tribunal is expected to render a decision within weeks.
For more, please read:
Why is Nestle Refusing controls on pumping out h20 during droughts?
VIDEO: CBC-TV National report on our challenge against Nestle
NEWS: Groups challenge Nestle water takings during drought
UPDATE: Council and allies challenge Nestle water takings in Ontario