Skip to content

Members of Wellington Water Watchers invited to France

Invited to participate in forum regarding concerns over Nestlé Waters water bottling operations in Europe
20181124 water ts 9
Wellington Water Watchers and Six Nations protesters gather at Nestle Waters in Aberfoyle. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday file photo

Jan. 31, 2019 Susan Glasauer and Karen Rathwell, members of the Board of Directors of Wellington Water Watchers are going to Vittel France. They have been invited by Collectif Eau 88 to participate in a community forum on Nestlé water bottling on February 12. Dr. Susan Glasauer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Land Resource Science, University of Guelph. Karen Rathwell is a long-time resident of Guelph and water protection activist.

Collectif Eau 88 has invited Wellington Water Watchers to share the experience of Nestlé water extraction in Ontario in order to illustrate how Nestlé’s behaviour in Vittel France is part of a global pattern of water exploitation and privatization by Nestlé.

Mike Balkwill, Campaign Director with WWW recently spoke with Bernhard Schmitt of Collectif Eau 88 via Skype and learned the following:

  • Nestlé has extracted 800K cubic metres of water/year in Vittel France since 1990.
  • All of the water bottled by Nestlé in Vittel is exported to Germany and other countries
  • Nestlé pays no taxes to the French government because the water is an export product.
  • Nestlé acquires the water for free and sells 1.5 litre bottles in Germany for 1 Euro
  • Local residents pay 3 Euros for each cubic meter of water they use

Nestlé has been extracting water for bottling in Vittel since 1990, reducing the aquifer by 30cm/year. Experts agree that there is a risk of salinization of the groundwater from excessive extraction by the year 2040.

The French government is proposing to address the impending drinking water shortage by building a pipeline from another town for residents of Vittel. The effect of transferring this water by pipeline will be to deplete the surface waters in the area of the neighbouring town. Experts predict that wetlands in neighbouring towns will dry up and water levels in local rivers will drop.

Nestlé will continue to extract and bottle Vittel water for export. Nestlé was granted a thirty-year permit in 1990 which may be up for review in 2020.

The French government has organized a series of public consultations on the pipeline. The public meeting Collectif Eau 88 has organized for Feb. 12 is intended to connect the dots between Nestlé’s water taking in countries around the world.

Susan Glasauer and Karen Rathwell of Wellington Water Watchers will share with the people of Vittel how Nestlé also extracts water in Ontario essentially for free. (The $503.71 per million litres that Nestlé pays the Ontario government is an administrative fee for the permit to take water process. This fee amounts to 1/40th of a cent per 500 ml bottle).

It is also a fact-finding mission for Wellington Water Watchers. A public meeting will be organized in Guelph in March to report back on what Susan and Karen learn by meeting with local people in Vittel.