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NEWS: Groups challenge Nestle water takings during drought

CBC reports, “Two non-governmental organizations (the Council of Canadians and Wellington Water Watchers) are challenging the Ontario Ministry of the Environment’s decision to change a permit issued to Nestle Waters Canada by removing conditions that would make it mandatory for the company to reduce its water intake during droughts. The permit in question, called a ‘permit to take water’, is for the well Nestle owns in Hillsburgh, Ont., a farm town in Wellington County in the hills north of the Niagara Escarpment. …(The groups) argue the government has a duty to protect resources, like water, that are shared in common.”

The article reports, “The saga of Nestle’s permit to take water began last year when the Swiss food giant went to renew its licence for the Hillsburgh well. The ministry gave it a new five-year term, but added two conditions that weren’t in its earlier permits that meant the company would have to reduce its take of water during droughts. That made Nestle the only permit holder in the watershed that would have mandatory reductions. The company appealed the permit to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal. …Before the tribunal could rule, Nestle and the ministry reached an agreement and the two conditions were removed from the company’s permit. …The GRCA (Grand River Conservation Authority) is responsible for determining whether or not there is a drought in the watershed. When they declare one, depending on the severity, they ask water drawers to reduce their take by 10 to 20 per cent. …(Nestle’s director of corporate affairs John) Challinor said the GRCA drought declarations were never meant to result in mandatory reductions. A letter from GRCA to the Environment minister clarified the conservation authority’s position and is what precipitated the change in Nestle’s permit.”

“The Water Watchers and the Council of Canadians think the Ontario government is failing in its duty to protect the public trust. They want to set a legal precedent on this matter and are willing to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.”

“The tribunal is expected to render a decision sometime in the next couple of weeks.”

For more, please read:
Groups want cap on Nestle’s water permit during droughts
UPDATE: Council and allies challenge Nestle water takings in Ontario
Council of Canadians raises climate change and drought concerns in Nestlé case
Nestlé Waters Canada fights drought limits (interview with Emma Lui)