Nestle Outbid a District of Ontario For its Water Supply

A worker inspects bottles of water at the Nestlé Waters Canada plant near Guelph, Ont., on Jan. 16, 2015. (Kevin Van Paassen/Bloomberg)
A worker inspects bottles of water at the Nestlé Waters Canada plant near Guelph, Ont., on Jan. 16, 2015.
(Kevin Van Paassen/Bloomberg)

A small but growing district in Ontario, Canada wanted to secure a water supply for its community. Unfortunately, however, Nestlé outbid it because it wanted a backup plan for its other water well in the area.

As the world’s largest producer of bottled water, Nestlé is known for its long history of abusing water sources. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman of the company is known for even going as far and saying that water isn’t a human right and that all water sources everywhere around the world should be privatized; preferably by then. When he declared this, the world community went into an uproar and all other still silent supporters of this idea, backed off.

“There are two different opinions on the matter [or water]. The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution.”

Nestlé already takes out some 3.6 million litres of water per day from the nearby water supply in  Aberfoyle, Ontario, and last month it bought another one from Middlebrook Water Company. Their reasoning behind the purchase was as a “supplemental well for future business growth”, and backup for the Aberfoyle well. The Township of Centre Wellington in Ontario was also interested in securing the water supply for its future development. However, Nestlé had a better offer and won the bid.

Before the township decided to take the water supply, Nestlé had lots of conditions and wanted to do several tests before acquiring the water supply. But since there was a competitor now, the company dropped all other procedures and acquired the well.

While there isn’t any abuse or illegality made here, there is a big underlying problem with it. Local communities shouldn’t be competing for vital resources in the first place, because in this way, there wouldn’t be the possibility for any future development for any community, anywhere. The Council of Canadians, a non-profit social action organisation, said that the well and bottling plant are located in a fragile ecosystem around Lake Eire and that allowing the company to extract even more water would add extra pressure on the environment.

“The Nestlé well near Elora sits on the traditional territory of the Six Nations of the Grand River, 11,000 of whom do not have access to clean running water,” said council chair Maude Barlow.

Premier Kathleen Wynne has received heavy criticism for accepting Nestlé’s application. She did say that the rules for granting water-extracting permits are outdated and should be revised but failed to provide any concrete plans or measures.