The water bottling industry has been taking a lot of heat in Ontario lately. Residents in Guelph have been fighting Nestle’s application to renew it’s permit to draw 3.6 million litres of groundwater a day from Aberfoyle. In September it was reported that Nestle had outbid a small municipality for the rights to another well in the area….combine this with water bottlers only pay $3.71 for a million liters of water and people get outraged.
Premier Kathleen Wynne has recognized there is an issue and has vowed to fix it. If Ontario is serious about fixing the situation with water bottlers here are some things to consider doing.
The province needs to monitor groundwater supplies that the communities rely on. Water is a renewable resource, but only up to a point. In Guelph there is a dispute about groundwater depletion or not. Nestle says their operation ia sustainable and the aquifer is ok. A local environmental group disagrees and says the aquifer has dropped 1.5 meters. We should not be relying on either one of these groups for providing accurate information on the aquifer. The province needs to monitor the situation itself.
The province should establish clear guidelines for water priorization. When demands exceed supply who gets the water? Community needs for water must be protected. Where should agriculture fit in? How about industries that use the water then return it after it is treated? Water bottlers who take the water and ship it out for consumption?
Raise the fees considerably. Water can be sold for over a dollar a liter, but bottlers pay $3.71 per million liters. A 250,000 times mark up.
Lastly, plastic, plastic, plastic. One billion bottles of plastic are not recycled every year. Half of these bottles are water bottles. How about a deposit on the the bottles. Ontario is one of two provinces without a deposit on plastic bottles. It is time for a change.