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.

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