“Battle with Nestle over water affects Pontiac” – Published in The LowDown Online, by William Amos and Carissa Wong November 27, 2013
Everyone needs water. Life exists because of it. In Canada, we expect water to be everywhere, accessible and clean. But the reality is that less than one per cent of the world’s freshwater is readily accessible for direct human use.
We also expect our governments to protect this resource and put a community’s need for drinking water ahead of a corporation’s desire to bottle and sell water for profit. But sometimes, governmental priorities get confused, as they did recently in Ontario.
Every day, Ontario permits Nestle Canada Inc. to take 1.13 million litres of water, which it then bottles and sells, from an aquifer in Wellington County near Guelph. Last year, the Ontario government — through the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) — renewed the permit on the condition that Nestle would take less water from the aquifer during serious droughts. But Nestle appealed these mandatory restrictions to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal, which has jurisdiction to determine disputes over groundwater permits. Then the MOE tried to cut a settlement deal with Nestle.
The deal would have allowed Nestle to avoid the mandatory drought restrictions. But in February, pro bono lawyers at Ecojustice challenged the deal on behalf of Wellington Water Watchers and Council of Canadians.
We filed a legal submission with the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal, arguing that the proposed settlement was bad for the province and deserved closer scrutiny. Last month, the Tribunal agreed with our clients. It concluded that the proposed settlement deal was not in the public interest and was inconsistent with the Ontario Water Resources Act. The Tribunal ordered a full hearing so that the appropriateness of the drought-based restrictions could be thoroughly examined. But recently, as a result of the Tribunal’s decision to order a hearing, Nestle withdrew its appeal of the mandatory drought restrictions. The deal is dead.
So Nestle must comply with the original permit conditions, reducing the amount of groundwater it takes from Wellington County during drought. Because these non-profit community groups took action, Nestle must leave more water for other users (in dry times) and the government must ensure they live up to that promise.
Federal, provincial and municipal governments are each responsible, to the extent of their jurisdictions, for managing groundwater resources. But that’s not always what happens. Sometimes well-organized, dedicated members of the public must use the legal system to hold government accountable.
Our watersheds are vulnerable when governments roll out the red carpet for private companies who bristle at mandatory restrictions on their water takings.
In this case, the MOE had it right in the first place — drought-based restrictions should be applied to all future water takings for bottle water enterprises. All Ontarians, not just those who drink water from a well, need to be protected against those who would cut deals that limit the government’s ability to safeguard our shared water supplies. The same approach should apply in Quebec.
The example from Wellington County resonates throughout Canada. It hits home to those of us living in the Pontiac who depend on well-water for our basic needs. When making decisions about the water that sustains our communities, the government’s job is to put the greater public interest first.
Ed. note: William Amos is a Chelsea resident and is the Director of the Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Ottawa. Carissa Wong is an articling student at Ecojustice.
The following are my thoughts and not part of this article:
I would think that the province of B.C. should be taking a very close look at this outcome for many like Sheila Muxlow, pictured outside Nestle’s bottling plant near Hope, B.C. on Aug. 12, 2013, who have concerns about Nestle withdrawing millions of litres of water without payment. According to the provincial Ministry of Environment, “B.C. is the only jurisdiction in Canada that doesn’t regulate groundwater use.”
Interesting related link ~
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“A WATER SOLUTIONS COUNTRY – Strategic steps for a more competitive water sector in Canada lead the way to global opportunities” – excerpts taken from the May/June issue of Water Canada by David Crane.
The availability and quality of water is the overarching challenge facing the global community in the 21st century. It is also Canada’s opportunity.
A world population that is projected to add 2.5 billion people by 2050, a global economy that is forecast to quadruple in this same period, the prospect of adding one billion people to the global middle class, and a sharp increase in the number of people in big cities will mean a an unprecedented demand for water. As well as more people, which will mean much greater need for clean water and sanitation, a bigger population with rising incomes means a much higher level of consumption of food, energy, natural resources, and industrial products—all of which will also increase the demand for water.
Add the expected impact of climate change on the distribution and availability of water, which could leave large numbers of people facing severe water stress, and the threats of drought and floods to food production, and it’s clear water is the most serious challenge we face. We can substitute batteries for oil in automobiles, but there is no substitute for water. So we face a water-stressed world.
Need, however, equals opportunity. The challenge is for Canada to contribute to water strategies and help the world meet the global water challenge. How do we utilize our strengths—the excellence of our engineering and technical Graduates, our proven academic research capabilities, and our innovative companies that can deliver water goods and services to build up a strong water sector—to generate new jobs and competitive companies while helping to meet the overarching global challenge?
Steps for a world water strategy: First, Canadians need to raise the level of understanding, not only among policymakers but also among the wider public; that there is an enormous challenge facing the world and that there is also a significant opportunity for Canada, by strengthening our research base and the strength of our companies. This is the first great challenge—to identify our water champions who will provide the leadership to make Canada a water-solutions country. These champions must come not only from academia and our clean water companies but also from the user community, our municipalities, and businesses that need a safe and reliable water supply. Water users have a significant stake in a solutions strategy. There is the risk of complacency due to a widespread public assumption that Canada’s abundant water supply means we don’t face water challenges. Yet Canada itself faces challenges—to improve water quality and sanitation performance, meet the threats of droughts and floods in agricultural lands, ensure the efficient and sustainable use of water in energy and mining industries, meet the water needs of First Nations, and improve water efficiency and conservation technologies and practices in the economy and society. Meeting domestic challenges through innovative solutions will strengthen the research base and the capabilities and competitiveness of Canadian water companies. This means efforts to balance federal and provincial budgets must not come at the expense of research or improvements in water infrastructure. Cutting these investments would mean a weaker future Canadian economy. Research and infrastructure spending are investments in a more secure and sustainable future. Another challenge needs to be addressed: How do we grow more small companies into mid-size or large companies? Canada is very successful in starting companies, but many water companies are small and remain small. They face significant challenges in obtaining the capital needed to develop new products or services, pursue new domestic and foreign markets, build the management strengths they need for success, and scale up so that users and systems integrators in Canada and elsewhere are confident in using their products or services. Many promising smaller companies fail to make the transition to significant scale, which means they can become takeover targets by large multinational corporations seeking their proprietary technologies. While federal and provincial programs that support company technology development are important, we also need to find ways to strengthen the equity base of promising Canadian companies. It is equity rather than debt that enables companies to innovate and to pursue new products or markets.
There are many advantages in Canada, including a well-developed research base, a significant number of companies with proprietary technologies and experience in the global marketplace, easy access to the U.S. and Mexican markets (which have huge future water needs), universities and colleges that graduate high-quality engineers and technicians, and some well-targeted government programs to assist small and mid-size companies. Given these strengths, failing to capitalize on them to meet the enormous world need for water solutions would represent a huge lost opportunity for Canada.
David Crane is an award-winning Canadian writer and the author of Canada as the Water Solutions Country: Defining the Opportunities, a discussion paper published by the Blue Economy Initiative.
Posted in Agriculture, Art, Collage, Conservation, Educational, Endangered resources, Environment, Environmental concerns, Geography, Geology, Global awareness, Health Concerns, Municipal water systems, Nature, Non profit organizations, Ocean, Precious Resource, River, Science and Technology, Water Ambassadors Canada, Water conservation
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Beautiful YouTube video, ‘Water in the Anthropocene’, post on geek.com by Russell Holly May. 26, 2013 It’s not easy to visualize the global impact of modern man on our Earth. Fortunately, there’s this great video to fill in whatever gaps you may have. It’s impossible to argue with the fact that modern man has impacted the world, but seeing, explaining, and understanding remains difficult. One way to do so would be to focus on the changes we have made that affect one of our most important natural resources, our water supply
When you think about everything in our world that needs water, and then think about how mankind has affected that resource on a global scale, the chances are high that you lack the whole picture. Fortunately, this short video on how we as humanity has affected water in the world today is here to help paint the global picture.
It is currently being debated whether we are currently living in or on the verge of the next epoch, the Anthropocene. Before now, the Earth was affected by natural forces and organic structures. It still is of course, but in our lifetime we have created structures and organized ourselves as civilizations that are now changing many of those natural forces and organic structures. It’s interesting to be able to see that kind of thing on a global scale, and wonder how the next generation of humanity will interact and change the planet.
The geological epoch we are currently in is formally known as the Holocene. Anthropocene is an informal term coined by Dr. Eugene F. Stoermer, who found Holocene to seem incorrect given the impact of man on the Earth. The Holocene is widely accepted to have started about 12,000 years ago, so it’s quite understandable that the developments humans have made over the past few hundred years alone would be sufficient to be considered the dawn of a new era, even a geological one.
Links related to article:
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How two members dug deep to bring sanitation to developing nations – by Susannah Maxcy of Renaissance Winter 2012 magazine.
On the impact Water Ambassadors has had on volunteers: “We’ve had big, macho Canadian men tear up. When some village person shakes your hand and says, ‘thank you’ for saving the lives of our children, it’s pretty humbling. It becomes a marker in people’s lives and that will change them forever. I think people realize the blessing that Canada has. You will never drink a glass of water out of the tap and think about it the same way again,” Barry expresses.
Access to water and proper sanitation are easy to take for granted when you live in a country with the world’s largest fresh water supply. We will neither know what it is like to walk for kilometres to a well nor will we ever know what it is like not to have access to a clean toilet. Enter Barry Hart, District 18, Haliburton and John P. Smith, District 13, Hamilton-Wentworth, Haldimand whose twists of fate inspired them to change the world one well and one latrine at a time.
… Barry Hart, founder of Water Ambassadors Canada, discusses the pressing need to bring clean water to third world countries … The interview is conducted by Lorna Dueck, host of Listen Up TV, a weekly television program exploring news and current affairs from a Christian worldview ~uploaded to YouTube on Nov 19, 2009
Barry Hart and his wife, Heather Alloway, first heard about the global water crisis 10 years ago at a conference they attended. “It went from our heads to our hearts. Within a year we were in Guatemala building a well in a remote location, a little scary at first, but totally blew us away … we remember sitting in the Houston airport coming home. By memory we were calling people using a phone card back in Canada to try to tell them what we had seen, heard and experienced. It was absolutely life-changing.”
Upon returning home, Barry and Heather formed the Water Ambassadors of Canada, a faith-based non-profit organization dedicated to improving and providing access to clean water to impoverished communities throughout the world. Since its inception, Water Ambassadors has sent approximately 300 Canadians to Central America, the Caribbean and Africa to help build wells, install water filtration systems and teach hygiene. Empowering the communities they help with the tools and knowledge to maintain these systems, Water Ambassadors provides water security in a time of increasing water instability.
… “Access is a big deal, because many of these places, people walk miles to get water from wells. We repaired on well in November that had been broken for 14 years, which forced the people to walk by that well to get to the next town to get their drinking water … when you fix wells you’re giving them access to clean water close by, or in some cases access to water period, rather than drinking out of the local mud hole. People totally appreciate it; they know what’s going on. It’s a matter of their time and their health that you’re giving them … kids can go to school with healthier tummies and a lot of little girls are not spending hours getting water each day,” says Barry.
Get involved. Are you interested in becoming a water ambassador? Water Ambassadors offers travel volunteer opportunities in Central America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. Learn more about Water Ambassadors of Canada at http://www.waterambassadorscanada.org.
Posted in Educational, Endangered resources, Environmental concerns, Health Concerns, Science and Technology, Travel, Travel, Video, Water, Water Ambassadors Canada, Water conservation
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The following article is taken from http://savethewater.org/did-you-know/water-facts/ ~ a virtual encyclopedia of all things water related – a marvelous site to visit!
The mission of Save the Water™ is to conduct water research to identify toxic chemicals harmful to humans, animals, and the environment. Save the Water™ is committed to finding methods to eliminate the toxins and improve the quality of drinking water.
Water Trivia ~ part of Save the Water’s “500 Water Facts” site.
• It takes about 1 gallon of water to process a quarter pound of hamburger.
• It takes 2,072 gallons of water to make four new tires.
• The first United States water plant with filters was built in 1872 in Poughkeepsie, New York.
• In 1908, Jersey City, New Jersey and Chicago, Illinois were the first water supplies to be chlorinated in the United States.
• Water intoxication occurs when water dilutes the sodium level in the bloodstream and causes an imbalance of water in the brain.
• In the 1950’s scientists began to suspect that water might carry diseases. Although earlier treatment of water could make the water safer, it was mainly done to improve the taste, smell or looks of the water. One gallon of water is equal to 3.785 liters of water. The overall amount of water on our planet has remained the same for two billion years.
• The United States consumes water at twice the rate of other industrialized nations.
• One cubic foot of water is equal to 7.48 gallons of water.
• Water boils at 212o Fahrenheit or 100o Celsius.
• Ancient Egyptians treated water by siphoning water out of the top of huge jars after allowing the muddy water from the Nile River to settle
• At any one time, it is estimated that half the world’s hospital beds are occupied with patients suffering from waterborne diseases.
• Average amount of pesticides used, per acre, per year, in agriculture: 2.7 pounds.
• Amount of water used by 60,000 villagers in Thailand, on average, per day: 6,500 cubic meters.
• Amount of water used by one golf course in Thailand, on average, per day: 6,500 cubic meters.
• Most of the earth’s surface water is permanently frozen or salty.
• Approximately 70% of the world’s supply of fresh water is located in Antarctica, locked in 90% of the world’s ice. (Source: Gulf of Maine Research Institute)
• The earth’s total allotment of water has a volume of about 344 million cubic miles. Of this:
• 315 million cubic miles (93%) is sea water!
• 9 million cubic miles (2.5%) is in aquifers deep below the earth’s surface.
• 7 million cubic miles (2%) is frozen in polar ice caps.
• 53,000 cubic miles of water pass through the planet’s lakes and streams.
• 4,000 cubic miles of water is atmospheric moisture.
• 3,400 cubic miles of water are locked within the bodies of living things.
• Water freezes at 32o Fahrenheit or 0o Celsius.
• During the 20th century, water use increased at double the rate of population growth; while the global population tripled, water use per capita increased by six times.
Posted in Educational, Science and Technology, Travel
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This ingenious life saving invention by one of Eole’s scientists is most definitively newsworthy!
Solutions to water scarcity around the world must be a number one priority for countries in such desperate need and for countries who have the capability of assisting financially.
It would seem that finally someone has the solution!!!
Excerpts from Water Online article excluding photos, “Creating Drinking Water From Thin Air”, September 25, 2012, By Kevin Westerling, Editor: “
“…the same concept that produces air conditioner condensate could be a lifesaver to 150 million people without access to drinking water.
The vision comes from French inventor Marc Parent, who created a machine that pulls water from the air and makes it potable, using a windmill as the sole energy source. Parent patented the system and founded Eole Water to manufacture and market it. Now comes the hard part… As innovative and potentially important as the technology is, the cost of water per cubic meter must be competitive. That challenge will play out shortly, as the turbine, called the WMS1000 gets installed in Dubai, India by the end of 2012…
According to Eole Water executive Thibault Janin, interviewed recently by ABC News, the WMS1000 system needs very little maintenance and lasts 20 years. This will be coveted in arid remote regions and requires no water source. Eole Water is testing the invention in France and Abu Dhabi. The invention, if the company can get the economics to work, looks to be a promising solution to the water crisis.”
A prototype in Abu Dhabi already creates 62 litres of water an hour, and Eole hopes to sell turbines generating a thousand litres a day later this year.
Turning air into water, Uploaded by AFP on 6 Aug 2009. Marc Parent is breathing new life into the idea of extracting water from air by using wind energy. High up in the Haute-Provence mountains, he has created windmills which produce clean water gathered from the humidity in the air.
Eole Water has designed a revolutionary wind turbine, the WMS1000 which is able to create drinkable water only by using air. The turbine is fully self-sufficient, featuring the most eco-friendly water production system ever designed. Discover this turbine in operation.
Posted in Educational, Innovative technology, Inventions, Science and Technology, Video
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We highly recommend “WAYS TO SAVE WATER” – an excellent article written by Sarah F. Berkowitz, as posted on Mother Nature Network, March 02, 2011 (link to article at the end of this blog).
You will find interesting comments and Sarah’s list of ten ways to conserve our precious water resources.
According to Sarah, “The easy access and plentiful availability of water in America and other highly developed countries can be blamed for the often wasteful attitude toward water use. For some consumers, it takes a major drought to make them aware of water waste.” and she points out ways that we all can, by utilizing “small steps” daily, make a “big difference”, while at the same time feel good about “preserving our limited water supply.”
Sarah’s article points out ways to save water in your kitchen and laundry room.
In your bathroom she has hints for brushing your teeth and taking showers or baths.
Tips also on Sarah’s list include a composting hint and a method to conserve water in your toilet tank each time you flush.
Sarah has a hint for recycling your fish tank water and also one for lawn mowing.
I whole-heartedly agree with Sarah that these steps will help us “contribute to world-wide water conservation efforts” – and I believe they will save us money as well.
There are two more great hints on Sarah’s list, and now that I have your interest piqued, you’ll have to check out her article on Mother Nature Network.
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