WELLINGTON WATER WATCHERS
Today, on the second anniversary of the expiry of Nestlé’s permit to take water at its Aberfoyle well, residents of Guelph must reduce their outdoor water use to conform to a Level 1 warning. While By-Law enforcement officers may levy a $150 fine on residents who do not follow the by-law it is not mandatory for Nestlé to reduce its water taking during these restrictions.
This is the same situation as two years ago today when southwestern Ontario was in the middle of a drought – and on the day Nestlé’s permit to take water at Aberfoyle expired - Nestlé continued to extract water for bottling. Global warming is increasing average temperatures around the world. July is the hottest month in one of the hottest years in the history of human civilization and Nestlé continues to extract water for bottling in single use plastic bottles.
One can understand why Nestlé does this – they seek ever increasing profits, even as the climate crisis deepens – a classic illustration of what Naomi Klein calls ‘disaster capitalism.' However, it is impossible to understand how the government of Ontario, now led by Premier Doug Ford, can continue to allow Nestlé to extract water from the aquifer from which Guelph and surrounding communities in Wellington County relies for its drinking water.
“Guelph is the largest city in Canada to rely 100% on groundwater for its drinking water,” says Arlene Slocombe, executive director of the Wellington Water Watchers. “The increasing impact of climate change is changing all the rules including on permits to take water. We can no longer afford to allow our community’s drinking water to be extracted by Nestlé and shipped out of our watershed for enormous profits.”
The previous Ontario government put a moratorium on new applications for permits to take water in response to massive public outrage at Nestlé’s water exploitation.“Two thirds of the public support phasing out permits to bottle water in Ontario according to a Mainstreet poll we commissioned on World Water Day in March of this year,” says Rob Case, chairperson of Wellington Water Watchers. “Clearly if Premier Doug Ford’s government is ‘for the people’ then phasing out permits to bottle water represents what the people want. And we want it now!"
The Water for Life, non profit program of the Wellington Water Watchers calls on the Ontario government to phase out permits to bottle water in Ontario.