It almost slipped by them, but the Wellington Water Watchers have mobilized quickly in response to Nestle's application the Ministry of the Environment for a 10-year extension on their permit to take water from the Grand River watershed in Aberfoyle. The new contract, if approved, would allow Nestle to continue to take 3.6 million litres per day for the next decade.
“This is far too long and way too much,” states Mike Nagy, former Green Party candidate and board member for WWW in a press release. “In fact, there are many aspects of this proposed Nestlé-Ministry of Environment agreement that should raise red flags for all Guelph-area citizens who care about water issues.”
And care they do. As soon as WWW changed the name of their Facebook group to “Oppose Nestle Waters Canada's ‘Permit to take Water’ Renewal Bid!” a tidal of wave of member reaction was posted to the site. The WWW will be holding a Community Information Session this Friday at ebar at 7 pm. Then, on Saturday, there will be a Community March to demonstrate against Nestle beginning in St. George's Square at noon and ending at around 3 pm outside the Nestle plant in Aberfoyle.
Emotions concerning Guelph’s water and the private corporations that want access to it have always been high. In 2007, Wellington Water Watchers was formed to combat Nestle’s previous contract renewal for five years at 3.6 million litres per day. After nearly a year of back and forth, the Ministry of the Environment followed direction from Guelph City Council and renewed the contract for only two years, but the litre per diem mark remained at 3.6 million.
“At the very most, the maximum volume of water allowed in any new Nestlé agreement should be no more than the maximum taken in 2010, which was 1.6 million litres per day,” Nagy says. “And then it should be reduced by at least 1.56 percent per year after that, consistent with Ontario’s initiatives on sustainable water use.”
The period for public comment about the renewal closes tomorrow, and a decision could be made about the renewal as early as March 5th. To learn more about WWW’s objections to the permit and find out how you can help their cause, go to http://www.wellingtonwaterwatchers.ca/