It was a month ago today, that the City of Guelph took the water use level down to Level 2 Red. Indeed emphasis of water use during the Summer of 2016 is "less is more," as an unusually dry winter has lead into an unusually dry spring and summer. Given the preciousness of water, and the unusual scarcity of it this year, would it not be advisable to think about just how we spend those resources?
That's always been the message of Wellington Water Watchers, and in the midst of a long dry summer their issues are coming into even more stark relief. On top of that, local environmentalists are really feeling the pinch because we seem to be surrounded by Nestle planting its flag in various wells around our region, first in Aberfoyle, then in Hillsburgh, and now in Elora and Middlebook. On top of that, the always contentious water-taking contract for Nestle at Aberfoyle expired this past Sunday, but as of today they're still filling those bottles. So what's going on?
Given all that, I reached out to Wellington Water Watchers for some potential explanations. Arlene Slocombe and Robert Case are both members of the Watchers, who, while getting some traction in fighting back against Nestle in Hillsburgh, are still trying to get bottled water-fillers out of Aberfoyle after almost a decade. Founded in 2007, the mission of Wellington Water Watchers is being "committed to the protection of local water and to educating the public about threats to the watershed." If anything, their job has gotten harder in the last nine years, not easier.
So in the midst of a hot, dry summer, and the looming spectre that Nestle may be getting another lucrative 10-year deal to take millions more litres of water from the local aquafer, I got together with the two local water conservation activists to talk about that elixir of life, which is both fragile and plentiful, at least for people in this area, and why it seems like we're taking it all for granted.
So let's head down to the river, or rather at a conveniently situated coffee shop nearby, to talk about Water with the Wellington Watchers.
Addendum: Lindsay Davidson of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change offered me a comment about the status of Nestle's contract, and how they can still be pulling water from the well when their deal has expired:
Nestlé submitted an application to renew its existing permit for the Aberfoyle well. We are currently reviewing the application and supporting documentation.
Under the Ontario Water Resources Act, if an application for renewal of an existing permit is made at least 90 days before its expiry, the permit remains in force until the ministry makes a decision on the permit renewal application.
The ministry evaluates each proposed water permit application to determine if it meets the principles of the Permit to Take Water program including, protecting the natural functions of the ecosystem, preventing unacceptable interference with other water users, and fair sharing and conservation of water.
This application will be posted on the Environmental Registry for public review. All comments received during the comment period will be considered before a decision is made.
To learn more about water issues in Guelph and area, you can go to the website for Wellington Water Watchers, or interact with them through social media on Facebook and Twitter. You can also go to the website, SaveOurWater.ca.
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