Nestlé drops drought restriction appeal
Oct. 8, 2013, Wellington County, ON – Nestlé Waters Canada backs down from a bottled water fight after environmental groups challenged the company on its attempt to have drought restrictions dropped from a permit.
Wellington Water Watchers, Ecojustice and the Council of Canadians achieved their goal after many months of speaking out, and working with lawyers.
On Sept.17, Nestlé announced that it was withdrawing its appeal of
drought restrictions on its water permit in Wellington County. A final
decision by the Environmental Review Tribunal on whether it will approve
Nestlé’s withdrawal and dismiss the proceedings is expected in the
“This case has highlighted the failings of the 'Permit to Take Water'
process in Ontario, particularly during times of drought. Not all
permits are or should be treated equally, and we believe it is the
government’s duty to protect groundwater and to prioritize water taking
in favour of reasonable community use. We hope to see more mandatory
restrictions on the water takings throughout the province where profit
before conservation exists,” said Emma Lui, national water campaigner
for Council of Canadians, in a media statement. “In fact, we hope to see the Ministry step up
and uphold the precautionary principle to protect community water
supplies when deciding whether to renew Nestlé’s permit once it expires
Nestlé is allowed to pump and package 1.13 million litres of
groundwater per day in Hillsburgh in Wellington County but challenged
restrictions placed on its “Permit To Take Water” last year by the
Ministry of the Environment. Last February, Nestlé announced it had
persuaded the ministry to remove the mandatory reductions, but this
agreement was successfully challenged before the Environmental Review
Tribunal of Ontario by the community groups. In August, the tribunal
ruled that the settlement agreement between Nestlé and the ministry was
not in the public interest and that the original appeal should proceed
to a full hearing.
“It was clear to us from the beginning that the lack of hydrological
information would not support Nestlé’s appeal for very long. Sadly, the
Ministry of the Environment failed to protect our communities’ water
sources by negotiating a questionable settlement with Nestlé,” says Mike
Nagy, chair of Wellington Water Watchers, in a press release. “Drought conditions are
occurring more often due to climate change and the ministry is not
taking its responsibility to protect our groundwater seriously.
Community groups shouldn’t have to put time and money into challenging
the ministry to do its job."