Bottled water

No loopholes on community consent

Mark Calzavara
4 weeks ago

Nestlé is still pumping out Ontario groundwater while it looks for a new buyer for its bottled water business in Canada. The multinational corporation takes what should be a shared public resource, puts it in hundreds of millions of single use plastic bottles, and then sells it for obscene profits.

In Ontario, Council of Canadians supporters like you have fought hard to stop Nestlé’s water profiteering. Tens of thousands of people joined a boycott on Nestlé’s products, demanded better regulations, and engaged in conversations about water commodification and why we must keep water public and protected.

And your efforts have made a difference. Thank you!

Ontario recently announced it would extend a four-year-old moratorium for the third time against issuing new bottled water-taking permits – this time, until April 2021, despite our continuing demands to make that moratorium permanent.

In a surprise announcement this month, the Ford government proposed additional regulations that will require bottled water corporations seeking new permits to get approval from the local municipality first, giving communities the right to simply refuse.

Sounds like an improvement, right? It could be, except for two giant loopholes in the proposed regulations.

The first is that companies will only have to seek municipal consent to extract quantities greater than 379,000 litres of groundwater per day. This is an arbitrary number that does not take into account any community plans for future water takings or population growth. Companies like Nestlé will be able to take up to 138 million litres of groundwater per year without community approval unless this loophole is closed.

The second loophole is that any municipal approval would be irrevocable for five years. This disenfranchises the community since voting out a council that gave an approval will not stop the permit application from moving forward. It also encourages deep pocketed corporations to make backroom deals with local politicians, potentially avoiding public scrutiny until it is too late.

It’s clear these loopholes need to close if we are truly going to protect water. Send a letter to Premier Doug Ford today and tell him there should be no loopholes in community consent.

In the face of the climate crisis, communities should be able to safeguard local water sources.

Whether we’re standing up to Nestlé or any other threat to water, the most powerful force against the commodification of this natural resource is an informed and organized network of people who are committed to safeguarding water. 

Thank you for taking action.