Healing Gaia

Ontarians Want to Protect Fresh Water

Mark World Water Day by taking steps to protect Canada's fresh water from corporate bottled-water exploitation.

By Doreen Nicoll
Published March 22, 2017

For most Canadians, getting fresh, clean water means turning on one of many taps inside our homes. Yet some Canadians mistakenly believe water will continue to be available in virtually unlimited amounts whenever they need or want it. The truth is that access to water is a fragile arrangement that far too many Canadians take for granted.

Canada may be home to seven percent of the world's fresh water, but we have few laws in place to protect this valuable resource for current and future Canadians.

March 22 is World Water Day. A day to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

The Wellington Water Watchers (WWW), a non-profit organization primarily run by volunteer citizens from Guelph-Wellington, are committed to protecting local water and educating the public about threats to watersheds throughout Ontario.

A 2017 Mainstreet poll commissioned by WWW sampled over 4,000 Ontarians and found two-thirds of decided respondents support phasing out bottled water in Ontario over the next decade.

63 percent of decided respondents also agreed permits for all companies currently bottling water in Ontario should not be renewed.

Respondents were asked to identify the most important reason for the cessation of extraction permits:

The Ontario Government is currently conducting a review of the bottled water industry. But the Water for Life, Not Profit program believes the best way to protect our water is by saying NO to Nestlé's plans to increase water extraction.

"Although the results of the review are eagerly awaited, improved regulations alone cannot protect Ontario's water. Premier Wynne herself has expressed serious doubts about bottled water - now is the time for leadership. It is clear a decisive majority of the public agree it is time to phase out the bottled water industry in Ontario and ensure public ownership and control of municipal water," says Mike Nagy of WWW.

The Water for Life, Not Profit Program also calls on the Ontario government to:

According to Rob Case, WWW Board Member, "In the extreme drought we experienced here last summer Nestlé was granted an indefinite extension to their permit for water bottling in Aberfoyle. That extension is still in place. Nestlé's Hillsburgh permit expires this coming summer, and Nestlé is vying for a third well here in Wellington County near Elora. The Premier must never allow a permit to be issued in Elora. Premier Wynne must also deny a renewal bid for Hillsburgh and take decisive action to phase out the permit in Aberfoyle."

Water is a human right. It should never be commodified. It must be held in trust for the public good. Based on the precautionary principle it seems Premier Wynne has little choice but to err on the side of caution and end water bottling in Ontario.

WWW are asking all Ontarians to urge Premier Kathleen Wynne to protect our water by saying NO to Nestlé's plans to increase water extraction and to commit to phasing out water bottling in Ontario within ten years.

To that end, I'll be sending emails to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Environment Minister Glenn Murray telling them to place a moratorium on permits and the entire water bottling industry in Ontario.

To mark World Water Day, please endorse the Water for Life, Not Profit Program and SAY NO TO NESTLE.

Doreen Nicoll is a feminist and a member of several community organizations working diligently to end poverty, hunger and gendered violence.


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