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Wellington Water Watchers Calls on More Stringent Laws for Water Taking Permits

Water for Life, Not for Profit

For immediate release

August 29, 2016

Guelph-Wellington – On the heels of unprecedented public and media attention to the ongoing issue of consumptive water taking in Wellington County, the Wellington Water Watchers in partnership with Saveourwater.ca are pleased to announce that we have submitted a detailed proposal for how Ontario’s Permit-To-Take-Water (PTTW) review process could be strengthened.

Known as an “Application for Review (AFR)”, this document, which has been in development for months, focuses on suggestions for new PTTW rules pertaining to consumptive water takings and specifically ones that are for the purposes of water bottling.

As Premier Kathleen Wynne has herself pointed out, the packaging and wholesale removal of water from Ontario’s aquifers was not a reality that was anticipated when the PTTW process was originally developed:

“Thirty years ago, we wouldn’t have envisioned an industry that took water and put it in plastic bottles so that people could carry it around,” Wynne said. “I mean, we didn’t drink water from plastic bottles 30 years ago. We turned on the tap and the fact is our tap water in Ontario is among the best in the world.”

“We agree that awarding any new permits to Nestlé or other similar water extractors under the current permitting rules would be not only inappropriate but also irresponsible,” stated Mike Nagy, Board Chair of Wellington Water Watchers. “We have been calling for changes to close this loophole since 2007.”

The costs of administering PTTW’s has far exceeded the costs recuperated by the levies attached to the permits. Remedying this is one of the concerned citizens’ demands, but there are more substantive changes to the PTTW process being requested in the Wellington Water Watchers/Saveourwater.ca’s AFR. In particular, the groups identify a need for new provisions in law, regulation, and/or policy that enhance Ontario’s water management system in order to improve climate resiliency.

“It is true that, at a provincial level the permitting system does not charge enough to cover the administrative costs of issuing permits – the well publicized $3.71/million litres we have all been hearing so much about lately,” said Dr. Robert Case of the WWW board. “But this debate will NOT be resolved by simply increasing these levies. The conversation goes much deeper, touching the very fundamentals of what sustains life. We cannot simply attach a cost to this. No amount of money will replenish the water that is being extracted for the profits of shareholders of big corporations like Nestlé. No amount of money will keep water in the ground for our future needs, especially in the context of climate change.”

The WWW and Saveourwater.ca are demanding the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change stand up to its own Statement of Environmental Values.

There is a unique opportunity at hand for the MOECC to pause and make thoughtful policy changes that factor in climate change and safeguard our water security into the future. Wellington Water Watchers and Saveourwater.ca have submitted their suggestions and are demanding meaningful consultation in this process. This process, they say, should be public and transparent.

The Wellington Water Watchers/Saveourwater.ca’s recommendations include prioritizing water usage based on the MOECC’s Statement of Environmental Values, which would not allow for 100% consumptive water taking permits or heavily waste-producing activities such as water bottling. The groups’ proposals also call for greater accountability around policy and regulation changes related to water-taking permits. A recent policy change the organizations would like revoked, for example, allows for continued water extraction by companies after their permit has expired, when renewal decisions have been delayed, without any public consultation or any consideration of drought or other environmental changes.

Once the AFR has been officially logged in by The Province, it will be made available to the public. In the meantime both groups say they are available for general discussion regarding their AFR’s intent.

 

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About Wellington Water Watchers Founded in 2007, Wellington Water Watchers (WWW) is a volunteer-run, non-profit organization based in Guelph, Ontario. Committed to the protection of water resources and public education, WWW works to affect local water policy and protect water sources. WWW also sponsors and supports guest speakers, debates, and are active at bottled-water free community events.

 

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Mike Nagy
Board Chair, Wellington Water Watchers
mikenagster@gmail.com
519-829-6249

Dr. Robert Case
Board Member, Wellington Water Watchers
racase@uwaterloo.ca
519-760-2410

4 Comments

  1. In San Bernardino County California, USA, Nestle paid $524 for 30 MILLION GALLONS of water in 2015. They think they should be able to take all they want and that the Federal gov’t can’t stop them. Besides millions of trees dying in the San Bernardino Mountains due to drought, people that live there are having their wells go dry and have no way to get water. They won’t be happy until they take it all.

    Please study the San Bernardino issue to get a better understanding of what this company is really all about. We don’t need to put all of that plastic into the environment either. Captain Moore, Algalita, Pacific Garbage Patch says that in 10 years 1/4 of the oceans weight will be plastic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSpqQ5uced4&t=4s

    My husband was working for Naya Waters, a Canadian company that had the first 100% recycled water bottle in the world and spring water where no pesticides/agriculture allow for 100 miles around the spring. My husband was helping to expand the US market. He was doing the whole country and was making good progress getting Naya in stores despite the competition.

    Meanwhile back in Canada, because Nestle gets water for practically free, they purposely undercut Naya Waters price to customers like largest supermarket chain Loblaws so low they almost put Naya Waters out of business and had to pull out of USA to survive. What about those jobs lost? Should the gov’t with undercutting the value of the water and Nestle be responsible for the loss of those jobs and the big hit to that company? Nestle ruined our lives and my husband’s job. Our life would be much different right now.

    The fact Nestle is using its free water ticket to put other companies out of business should be reason enough to pull their permits. If it was a fair playing field, would say it’s business, but that is not the case.

  2. Would your proposals run afoul of NAFTA in any way? I understand that under certain circumstances water can become a commodity under NAFTA’s terms. Is Ontario considering asking the federal government for coordinated policy in the matter of water use?

  3. I heartily applaud and admire the work of WWW. I am aware of successes the organization has already had in quasi-judicial settings with regard to controlling the exploitation of water resources by companies like Nestle. I admire the attempt to use the Public Trust Doctrine in pursuit of the organization’s goals. That said, it seems to me that the law governing access to water resources (“water rights”) is pretty incoherent and lacking a solid juridical base. I understand that the development of any such jurisprudence normally depends on the occurrence of specific cases that can be pursued in legal settings. However, a case can be made for the theoretical development of such a jurisprudence that could be drawn upon in any specific pleadings.
    This is no small undertaking but perhaps WWW could encourage a university law department to undertake such a challenge through research and educational opportunities such as LLM and SJD theses.

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