Tag Archives: ontario

Ontario Environmental Commissioner Decries Water-Taking “Free For All”

Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner issued a report critical of the province’s lack of control over large scale water extraction. Naturally, Nestle’s name popped up (it always does when large-scale water extraction is on the radar); its operation in Guelph was cited as a prime example of large-scale extraction run amok.

“We have a free-for-all, first-come, first-served basis on our water taking,” Miller told reporters as he released his annual evaluation of the province’s environmental record. “Whoever wants the water, applies for permits and they get it . . . There’s no assessment as to how much water is available and how much water should we reserve for the proper functioning of ecosystems and how much should we reserve for public use.”

In August 2007, the provincial government introduced a regulation requiring “highly consumptive” commercial and industrial water takers – like bottled water, beverage and fertilizer manufacturers – to pay a fee for the water they used. The fee is nominal however, just one cent for every 3,000 litres extracted according to Miller.

“They’re not paying enough,” he said.

Later in the article, Nestle’s water-extraction operation outside Guelph came under fire as a sterling example of exploitation of the province’s water resources – at a time when those resources are suffering from drought and climate change.

Last year, Nestle Waters Canada prompted an unprecedented public outcry
over its application to withdraw 2,500 litres of groundwater every
minute – up to 3.6 million litres per day, 365 days per year – from the
Aberfoyle well outside Guelph.

Provincial authorities ultimately granted the permit, albeit for two years instead of the five requested by Nestle.

And yes, like so many other places which prohibit bulk transfers of water outside a basin, Ontario’s law contains a loophole exempting bottled water from bulk transfer limits.

That same loophole exists in the just-enacted Great Lakes Compact, and yes, it’s written into the law here in Siskiyou County.

The ubiquity of the loophole suggests the extent of Nestle’s legal and political reach; Nestle’s clearly attempting to lock up water supplies now, knowing they won’t become less valuable in the coming decades.

As freshwater supplies continue to tighten – even in locations where water was plentiful – groundwater planning is fast becoming an issue. You can be sure Nestle’s legal operatives will be a part of those discussions.

(via Science Canada)

, , , , ,

Powered by ScribeFire.

London, Ontario Bans Bottled Water Sales on City Property: Movement Set to Grow?

In a move that must have ruined the mornings of bottled water executives all across North America, the city of London, Ontario (Canada) banned bottled water sales on city property.

The critical issue here isn’t the ban; it’s the industry’s response. But more on that in a second. First, the story:

A decision by the largest Canadian city yet to ban bottled water could see a tide of other cities making the same move, says a city councilor leading the push to get rid of bottles here in Vancouver.

Citing environmental concerns and a need to promote city tap water, the city council in London, Ont., voted this week to ban bottled water from its properties.

“I think this is going to continue right across the country,” said Vancouver Coun. Tim Stevenson.

Staff at the City of Vancouver have also been looking at ways of eliminating the sale of bottled water and increasing the number of drinking fountains around the city.

How does Nestle Water of Canada respond? In a statement so ironic it’s gained instant “Hall of Fame” status here at StopNestleWaters.org, their spokesperson called it “greenwashing.”

But one industry rep says a ban in Vancouver would be political “green washing.”

“It’s quite frankly environmental symbolism and it doesn’t result in meaningful progress in terms of the environment or health,” said John Challinor, director of corporate affairs for Nestle Waters Canada, which holds a 35-per-cent share in the Canadian bottled water market.

It’s tempting to write Challinor off as simply a paid corporate flack, but his statement is worth examining.

After all, there are few bigger experts on greenwashing than a Nestle executive, and we tend to agree that London’s ban hasn’t really resulted in the kind of “meaningful progress in terms of the environment or health” we’d like to see.

What would constitute meaningful progress?

How about municipal bans on bottled water purchases across North America?

Now that – my dear readers – is exactly the kind of progress Mr. Challinor was no doubt referring to.

After all, buying bottled water is a wasteful use of taxpayer money, especially when the stuff runs largely for free out of the tap, and taxpayer dollars typically subsidize landfill operations – where anywhere from 75%-85% of Nestle’s plastic bottles end up.

We’d like to thank Mr. Challinor for his unique insight. With any luck, we’ll see more “meaningful progress” soon.

, , , , ,

Powered by ScribeFire.