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When will Wynne seek public input on Nestle water-takings in Aberfoyle?

The Council of Canadians Kitchener-Waterloo chapter at a farmers market last weekend sharing information that says, “It’s time to stop Nestle profiting from water!”

When will Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne open the public comment period on Nestle’s application for a permit to take 3.6 million litres a day for the next ten years from the Grand River watershed in southern Ontario?

On April 14, CTV reported, “Nestle filed its application to renew its water-taking permit earlier this week.” Nestle’s permit then expired on July 31, but for the past 18 weeks the transnational corporation has been allowed to continue to pump 3.6 million litres a day under the terms and conditions of that expired permit.

There is no indication of when the public comment period will open, though it’s likely delayed because of another consultation process.

On September 23, Wynne’s mandate letter to environment minister Glen Murray stated, “Immediate improvements are needed when it comes to water bottling practices, particularly in the face of climate change, the increasing demands on water resources by a growing population and concerns about water security.” On October 3, Wynne said, “I think we have some immediate issues that we need to deal with because there are some permits that have been extended and there are some issues that we need to come to ground on quickly, but I think there does need to be a public consultation.”

That consultation period closes today.

Thank you to everyone who responded to our call to submit comments to that process through our online action alert and please send a letter by the end of today if you haven’t done so already.

The only other hint we have is a Toronto Star report that says Murray is expected to “report back in the fall on options to reform the regulatory process for water-taking permits for bottled water purposes”, which would technically mean by December 20. Presumably after that date, there may be greater clarity as to when the Aberfoyle permit application will be opened for public comment.

Earlier this fall, Guelph city councillor James Gordon moved a motion that would have had the City of Guelph call on the province to reject Nestle’s permit in Aberfoyle. That motion was eventually withdrawn given the province had not yet opened the public comment period on that permit. Instead, City Council passed a resolution that supports a two-year moratorium on new and expanded water-taking licenses, a provincial water management program that would ensure an evidence (science) and principle-based approach to water-taking, community or public water needs recognized as a priority, and consultation with First Nations impacted by water-takings.

CBC now reports, “The recommendations approved [November 28] will now be forwarded to the province. But Gordon said they will need to go through the process again once the province posts Nestle’s permit to take water at the Aberfoyle plant for comment. And when it does, he has no doubt residents will be there to give their opinion.”

In the 122 days that have elapsed since Nestle’s permit in Aberfoyle expired, the transnational was allowed to extract more than 439 million litres of water.

As that amount of water taken grows each day, more and more people are signing our Boycott Nestle Pledge – which now has the support of 46,790 people.

To read numerous blogs about Nestle water-takings, please click here.