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Ontario’s new bottled water rules leave communities high and dry: Council of Canadians

Nestlé Aberfoyle

New bottled water rules released by the Ontario government today do not go far enough to protect drinking water supplies, says the Council of Canadians.

“Vulnerable groundwater supplies can still be extracted and shipped thousands of kilometres away in single-use plastic bottles,” says Emma Lui, water campaigner for the Council of Canadians. “Ontarians don’t want water wasted – they want it protected for their communities.”

While the new regulations will require more information and consultation by Nestlé and other bottled water companies before permits are renewed, they still allow current operations to continue during severe droughts with only modest reductions in water takings.

“A five-year permit to bottle and transport water out of a watershed is an eternity for a drought-ridden community,” says Lui. “What Ontario really needs is a full phase-out of all bottled water permits.”

Local chapters of the Council of Canadians found Nestlé bottled water from its Aberfoyle plant in stores thousands of kilometres away, including in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

A December poll commissioned by the Council of Canadians found that 93 per cent of Ontarians support prioritizing the drinking water needs of local communities over commercial bottling companies. Sixty-five per cent support a permanent phase-out of all permits for bottled water takings.