Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday August 25, 2016
New permit for Nestle water-taking at low rate ‘inappropriate’: Wynne
Bottled water companies in Ontario may soon have to pay more and take less water as public outcry over revelations that the province charges them just $3.71 for every million litres triggered a government review.
There is a difference between taking water for agricultural or industrial use and taking it to sell bottled water, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Wednesday. Some of the conditions of the permits for bottled water use are outdated, she said.
“There’s the issue of the quantity of water that’s taken, there’s the issue of the cost of that water,” Wynne said.
“Also, there’s an issue around the timing. As we all know, it’s been a dry summer and so I think we need to look at what are the right triggers in place in terms of quantities that are allowable given the conditions.”
Wynne has asked Environment Minister Glen Murray to review permit conditions for bottled water companies. It will look at whether there is a sufficient price on removing water, he said.
“I think for some of the folks that are removing it and taking it away, that they got a really sweet deal,” he said. “Maybe too sweet a deal.”
Environmental group Wellington Water Watchers is urging Ontario not to renew a permit for Nestle Waters in Aberfoyle, Ont., that expired on July 31. It’s upset that the company has been allowed to keep extracting water from a local well in the midst of a severe drought in the province.
A water-taking permit remains in force if a renewal application is made at least 90 days before it expires.
“Quite frankly, that window gives us an opportunity to look at what should change, rather than issuing a new permit under the same parameters as the former permit, which I think would not be appropriate,” Wynne said.
Times have changed, she said.
“Thirty years ago, we wouldn’t have envisioned an industry that took water and put it in plastic bottles so that people could carry it around,” Wynne said.
“I mean, we didn’t drink water from plastic bottles 30 years ago. We turned on the tap and the fact is our tap water in Ontario is among the best in the world.”
Nestle Canada has two permits to take up to 4.7 million litres of water every day for bottling. Other bottled water companies with large water-taking permits in Ontario include Gold Mountain Springs, Gott Enterprises and St. Joseph Natural Spring Water. (Source: CTV News)