President of Northern Ontario municipalities group agrees with provincial review of water bottling

KAPUSKASING—The President of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) supports the province of Ontario undertaking a review of water bottling.

“This is a prudent move now that current agreements with water bottling companies has now expired; that provincial review should be done,” stated Al Spacek, last week.

“Food and water are going to become even more important commodities in the not too distant future, so this type of action and review is welcome,” said Mr. Spacek.

The province is home to much of the Great Lakes which hold 20 percent of the world’s fresh water, as well as many other lakes and waterways. However, as was noted in an article in the Toronto Star September 6 edition, only one percent of Great Lakes water is replenished through rain water and snow melt. Our underground wells and aquifers could be drawn down to the last drop unless care is implemented, especially considering the drought-like conditions this summer and the longer-term affects of climate change.

“Still, you wouldn’t know that water was a precious resource from the pittance Ontario charges water bottling companies and other industrial users for it: just $3.71 per million litres. Nor would you know it from the number of permits granted to numerous water bottlers who were allowed to truck 1.7 billion litres out of our watersheds for profit in 2015,” comments the Toronto Star article.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynn has requested a review of permit conditions for water bottlers in the province, which she termed “outdated,” reported the Star. She wants Environment Minister Glen Murray to look at the quantity of water drawn, the cost and when it is taken and she wants to make sure there are ‘triggers’ in place that reflect climate conditions.

Minister Murray was quoted in the Star as saying, “I  think for some folks that are removing it (water) and taking it away, that they got a really sweet deal. Maybe too sweet a deal.”

It was pointed out Nestle alone has permits to draw 20 million litres a day from various Ontario sources. Since 2008, it has been taking 3.6 million litres of water a day just from two wells for its bottled water plant in Aberfoyle, just south of Guelph, making a profit at that location of $42 million a year, according to the Council of Canadians.

It was reported that 10 years ago that four companies, Nestle, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Danone, were estimated to have turned bottled water into a $50 billion a year industry.