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article imageEnvironmentalists oppose renewing Nestle Ontario water permit

By Ken Hanly     Aug 22, 2016 in Environment
Toronto - An environmental group argues that the Ontario government should not renew a water-taking permit in the south-western Ontario town of Aberfoyle which ran out on July 31.
Wellington Water Watchers website points out: "Nestlé’s permit to take water in Aberfoyle expired July 31, 2016. No new permit has been granted, yet Nestlé’s water-taking continues, even in the midst of a drought." The group notes that Nestle submitted their application to renew the permit earlier this year. Ordinarily this will be posted on the registry on the Environmental Bill of Rights. After the posting there is a 30 day comment period after which the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) decides whether to renew the permit. This year they claim the notice was not posted and they automatically extended the permit without consultation or any restrictions because of the drought. The group maintains that water should be for life not profit.
Nestle Waters Canada responded to the complaints by saying that it was committed to "a continued engagement with the community" arguing: "The continuation of this permit allows for thorough public consultation on the Ontario Environmental Registry, and provides (the ministry) time to conduct, review and report on the public commentary before a decision on the permit renewal application is made." Another press release reads: “Although our permit expired on July 31, 2016, we have received confirmation from the MOECC that during this application phase, under the Ontario Waters Resources Act, Section 34.1 (6), the existing Permit to Take Water remains intact until the MOECC moves forward on a decision. We will continue to operate as usual.” The MOECC says that a water-taking permit remains in force if it is made at least 90 days before it expires. It said it planned to post Nestle's application for comment once the supporting documents have been reviewed. There is no mention of the Water Watchers' claim that the application was not posted as it should have been earlier. Other companies have large permits as well.
Documents at the MOECC website show that Nestle Canada has 3 permits to take up to 8.3 million liters of water every day for bottling, while a division, Nestle Waters Canada, has about 6 Ontario permits allowing it to take another 12 million liters a day. Ontario charges $3.71 for ever million liters of water but there is a fee for a permit of $750 dollars or $3,000 for those considered high risk.
Ellen Schwartzel a former environmental commissioner, in a report, said the charges for taking the water was a drop in the bucket. The $3.71 per-million-liter fee recovered about 1.2 percent of Ontario water-quantity management costs. On its website the MOECC lists about 6,000 water-taking permits. The permits allow not just bottlers but municipalities, mining companies, and golf courses to take up to 1.4 trillion liters of Ontario surface and ground water every day. The permits can be valid for up to 10 years or even longer. Although farmers are allowed to take water for agricultural purposes their total use comes to just 0.5 percent of water removed. The enclosed video shows that the same issue came up three years ago.
More about Nestle, water in Ontario, water permits
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