Citizens rally to stop backroom deal between Nestlé and Township of Centre Wellington (TCW)
For Immediate Release
January 3, 2017
Elora, Township of Centre Wellington ON—SaveOurWater.CA and Wellington Water Watchers (WWW) are organizing an urgent public meeting to expose the scheme Nestlé Waters Canada is proposing to the Township of Centre Wellington (TCW). The meeting will take place Wednesday, January 11th 7pm at the Royal Canadian Legion, 110 Metcalfe Street, Elora (RSVP here). Speakers will update the audience on what they can do to stop Nestlé’s actions to bypass the moratorium and why it is vital to halt their scheme that will jeopardize the local water supply for their own profits.
“A town councillor in Centre Wellington says it is inappropriate for Nestlé Waters Canada to seek one-on-one meetings between the township’s councillors and company officials.” Read more
Over 200 encouraged to keep the pressure on to protect “precious water sources” Read more
Water quantity and quality issues are of growing concern due to increasing population, the effects of climate change, and competing interests in water supplies. The packaged water fad has taken the world by storm. In addition to the environmental impacts of single-use plastic water bottles, contamination and even depletion of groundwater in local communities are possible scenarios from the effects of water bottling and packaging facilities.
Nestlé Waters Canada (Nestlé), is currently evaluating the purchase of the Middlebrook Water Co. spring water source. Located within one of the largest subwatersheds in the Grand River watershed, the Middlebrook well neighbours drinking water supplies for the communities of Fergus and Elora in Centre Wellington. The Middlebrook well is also adjacent to the Elora Gorge Conservation Area where the Grand River flows through the bottom of the gorge, and is home to some of the best brown trout fishing in North America.
The Grand River flow is augmented in by the Shand Dam in Bellwood, just upstream from Elora and Fergus, as water levels become quite low in the very dry summer months. This area often experiences summer drought, placing stress on the local ecosystem.
Permit to Take Water
In Ontario, a permit is required for anyone who wishes to draw 50,000 litres or more of water per day from the environment. This is called a Permit to Take Water (PTTW). Nestlé currently holds a permit in Aberfoyle and Hillsburgh. At the company’s packaging plant in Aberfoyle, they hold a permit for pumping up to 3.7 million litres of water per day. The Hillsburgh location, where they truck water 50km to the Aberfoyle packaging plant, is permitted for up to 1.1 million litres a day.
Nestlé has issued a letter of intent to purchase a third well in Wellington County – the Middlebrook well, for an additional 1.6 million litres per day (300 gallons per minute). If Nestlé’s permit is approved for 1.6 million litres of water per day, the corporation will pay $3.71 per million litres (or $5.93 per day).
100% of the water captured under this permit would be removed at the source and also be trucked 24/7 to Aberfoyle. A 100% consumptive permit is a permit where every drop of water that is pumped, or in this case captured as this is upwelling artesian water, is removed from the local watershed and never returned. The Middlebrook well will be similar to Nestle’s Hillsburgh well, where the water is transported by bulk tanker truck to the Aberfoyle packaging facility.
WWW does not support these type of permits in particular due to the cumulative effects they can have over the medium to long-term especially when considering climate change.
What Happens if the Permit Goes Through
Should the third permit be approved, Nestlé will be able to draw 6.4 million litres of water per day, and subsequently packaged if they choose to. 6.4 million litres could translate into 12.8 million disposable packages if all the water was placed into single serving packages.
Both the Hillsburgh and Elora wells are classified as ‘spring water’ which is preferred by American markets. Nestlé claims that the Elora site will be a ‘back up’ well, however, this brings into question why Hillsburgh is underutilised and not a back-up well itself?
WWW believes that the primary reasons Nestlé is acquiring these permits is for access to more water and securing more permits. It is in our opinion that the Aberfoyle well may be degrading, and that these two remote wells could become the main supply.
The effects of trucking on human health, the environment and road infrastructure is not taken into account with the permitting process. Unlike gravel hauling, which is excessive in Ontario but also necessary for building roads, etc., water trucks are not regulated in their time of operation and can haul 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Hauling water for the purposes of packaging it into one-time use disposable packages is 100% avoidable and is not a value added industry. The tanker trucks used for these permits consume a tremendous amount of energy and create avoidable emissions and noise.
If the permit is approved, all three of Nestlé’s permits combined could potentially draw 6.4 million litres of water per day, resulting in 12.8 million plastic packages if all the water was placed into single serving packages.
What Should We Do?
Wellington Water Watchers (WWW) is currently involved with the application by Nestlé to the Ministry of Environment to perform an aquifer pump test. WWW has many concerns regarding this application and test. We submitted technical comments on the EBR regarding concerns about this application.
There is a groundswell of opposition in the Elora area with over 1,000 people signing a petition in a mere few weeks expressing opposition to this potential new permit application. Save Our Water, the local Elora group, is supported by WWW as we have been through this process many times before and have gained international recognition with our opposition to the Hillsburgh permit. WWW’s experience is exceptional and we are committed to protecting groundwater from exploitation and wholesale removal.
The mood of the nation is changing and the public is becoming more aware of the profiteering and production of solid waste that these permits induce. If all 6.4 million litres of water available per day were placed into single serving one-time use packages, this would translate into 12.8 million containers of plastic added to an already plastic choked world. Plastic patches are now found in the Great Lakes, not just the oceans, as more and more plastic is entering the ecosystem. Packaged water is an unnecessary and avoidable problem.
We propose that legislation is required to mandate the reinstatement of the deposit and return system for all soft drink containers. This system was hastily abandoned without public consultation in the mid 1990s. The Beer Store has been a model for reuse and studied around the world for waste diversion. Soft drinks used to be part of that similar model of reuse and it is time for its reintroduction.