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Ontario town studies Nestle proposal to pay for water takings

Erin, Ontario

Nestle is proposing to pay the Town of Erin a minimum of $25,000 a year for the water it takes from that community to sell as bottled water.

SouthwesternOntario.ca reports, “Nestlé Waters Canada has offered to pay a voluntary levy of 50 cents to the Town of Erin for every 1,000 litres of water it pumps out of the ground in Hillsburgh. Town Councillors received a presentation on February 1 by Nestlé Natural Resource Manager Andreanne Simard and Director of Corporate Affairs Jennifer Kerr.”

The proposal comes most likely as a result of growing public awareness and opposition to Nestle water takings in Ontario.

Nestle Waters Canada is a subsidiary of Nestle S.A, the Swiss based transnational which had sales of about $116 billion in 2015. According to the news report, the company would have paid $41,135 to the community last year under this scheme.

The article adds, “Council made no decision on the offer, but asked staff to prepare a report on the issue.”

It’s not clear when that report will be completed, but Nestle will be holding an open-house on February 27 from 9 am to 11 am at the Hillsburgh Community Centre.

This is an opportunity for local residents to ask company representatives questions about the ethics of selling water (a United Nations-recognized human right), groundwater as a finite resource impacted by climate change and over-extraction, droughts and water scarcity,  the environmental impacts of plastic bottles and the trucking of water, and the need for free, prior and informed consent of impacted First Nations under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Town of Erin’s website also notes, “Very important issues arise in the Town of Erin from time to time. Public comment is always welcome. If you feel strongly enough about an issue, to write a letter to the Town or call about it, please sign your name to the letter or leave your name and number on telephone messages.”

If you wish to contact the Mayor and town councillors on this issue, their contact information can be found here.

Nestle’s current permit to extract 1.1 million litres of water per day from Hillsburgh expires on August 31, 2017.

The Council of Canadians believes that this permit should not be renewed.

For more on this, please see canadians.org/nestle