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Ontario premier Wynne feeling public pressure over Nestle water takings

Premier Kathleen Wynne is feeling the pressure of public outrage over Nestle water-takings in Ontario.

The Canadian Press reports, “The bottled water industry in Ontario is facing renewed government scrutiny after a small township was outbid by multinational giant Nestle in its attempt to purchase a well to secure water supply for its growing community. Premier Kathleen Wynne said Friday her government will look for ways to put community needs ahead of bottled water corporations.”

Back on August 22, Toronto-based Council of Canadians organizer Mark Calzavara wrote in this blog, “Today, we learned that Nestle has bought up another well- near Elora, Ontario- despite the local municipality’s attempt to purchase it to prevent the groundwater from being extracted for bottling.”

Township Mayor Kelly Linton has commented, “When water taking is solely within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the only role we really have as a municipality is to comment to the ministry, and it issues all the permits. So purchasing the well would automatically give us control, and that’s what we were looking for, control of our water source and not just the ability to comment.”

While Wynne’s mandate letter to the provincial environment minister says “immediate improvements” are needed given “increasing demands on water resources by a growing population and concerns about water security”, it falls short of addressing the real issue when Wynne suggests she wants bottled water companies to pay more for the water they take.

The Council of Canadians has taken the position that increasing the meagre price Nestle pays for extracting millions of litres of water is not the answer. We believe that groundwater resources will not be sufficient for our future needs due to drought, climate change and over-extraction. Wasting our limited groundwater on frivolous and consumptive uses such as bottled water is wrong. We must not allow groundwater reserves to be depleted for corporate profit. It is time to stop Nestle and other bottled water companies from profiting from water.

We are challenging Nestle in numerous ways:

  • Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow launched our Boycott Nestle campaign last night at a public forum in Guelph, which is the ground-zero for Nestle water-takings in Canada.

  • We have a new online pledge that asks people to commit not to buy bottled water and not to buy Nestle products.

  • Our Guelph chapter is mobilizing for a City Council meeting on September 26 where council will vote on a resolution to oppose Nestle’s request for a 10-year renewal of its permit to extract 3.6 million litres of water a day from the Grand River watershed. More on that upcoming rally at City Hall here.

  • Our Centre-Wellington chapter is challenging the provincial government to reject a water-testing permit for the well Nestle bought in Elora. Nestle operations there could take 1.6 million litres of water a day from that well. The provincial comment period on this application ended on November 15, 2015 and the government has yet to make a decision. Our submission to the provincial government calling on them to reject the permit can be read here.

  • We have produced “Stop Nestle profiting from water” buttons and stickers for wide distribution. We’re also saying that since Nestle pays $3.71 for a million litres of water, we’ll send you two stickers (one for yourself, one to share) for the same price to help spread the word and stop Nestle. Order your stickers here.

  • Barlow will be speaking in Chilliwack on November 21 to draw attention to Nestle’s bottled water operations in nearby Hope. More on that here.

To read more about our Stop Nestle campaign – where you will also find many campaign blogs like this one – please click here.