Updated: Jul 8, 2019
By Mike Balkwill, Wellington Water Watchers
I work as the Campaign Director for the Wellington Water Watchers. Paul Baines, (CSJ Blue Community Coordinator) invited me to write for this blog to update you on our campaign to Say No To Nestlé’.
The Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto recently made generous financial donations to WWW to support this campaign. WWW is launching the next phase of its campaign to Say No To Nestlé. I will write in this blog once a month to keep you up to date on and invite you to join with our campaign.
Say No To Nestlé is an ongoing campaign to stop Nestlé’s water taking in Wellington County. Nestlé currently has permits which allow it to extract up to 4.7 million litres of water per day in Aberfoyle (where it also operates a bottling plant) and in Hillsburgh. Guelph, which is located nearby, is the largest city in Canada that relies 100% on groundwater for its drinking water.
Nestlé is seeking permission for a third well – Middlebrook – in Elora.
View this 8 minute animation on Nestlé’s water taking in Wellington County and our campaign to Say No To Nestlé’.
Wellington Water Watchers is also campaigning for the Ontario government to end the practice of issuing permits to take water for bottling in communities across Ontario. Currently the Ontario government permits the extraction of more than 4.5 billion litres of water each year by commercial bottling by multiple corporations in Ontario.
WWW expects that any day Nestlé will submit an application to renew their permit for water taking in Aberfoyle and Hillsburgh.
In 2016 the Ontario government of Kathleen Wynne imposed a moratorium on permits to take water for bottling – in response to the campaigning of WWW and many others.
Doug Ford’s government lifted the moratorium on existing applications (although it maintained the moratorium on applications for new wells – like the proposed Middlebrook well in Elora).
When Nestlé submits its application there will be a 90-day consultation period – which is conducted completely online – through the Environmental Bill of Rights process. This online consultation excludes concerned people from direct contact with decision-makers. It is designed to separate politicians from people who are concerned about the environmental consequences, commodification of water, plastic waste, and disregard of Six Nations treaty rights of bottling Ontario’s water. In addition, the criteria set by the government for evaluating permits to take water does not assess the cumulative impact of water taking on underground aquifers.
For all of these reasons Wellington Water Watchers opposes Nestlé’s water taking for bottling.
WWW demands that Doug Ford’s government impose a full Environmental Assessment on the policy of issuing permits to take water so that there can be a full public discussion of water bottling by Nestlé and other commercial water bottling operations in Ontario.