World’s biggest bottled water producer, Nestle, has been exposed for sourcing water in Canada on expired permits. Environmentalists are outraged that the Canadian government is letting Nestle continue to capitalize on public resources and contribute huge amounts of plastic pollution.
Nestle defends itself by saying the company donates tens of thousands of dollars to towns where they have wells and bottling facilities. Furthermore, they blame the Ontario government for making ‘complicated changes’ to water management rules. The company is currently amending their Permit to Take Water applications to comply with new technical requirements.
Meanwhile, Nestle is pumping an estimated five million liters of groundwater daily from sites including Ontario towns Aberfoyle and Erin, sometimes faster than the aquifers are replenished. Ontario government spokesperson Gary Wheeler told VICE News, “Although Nestlé Aberfoyle and Erin permits have expired, they are deemed to remain in force and operations can continue until the ministry makes a decision on the renewal application.”
Canadians residents are demanding the government impose higher taxes on big companies and make more effort to protect natural resources. They also worry the need for water is growing along with the population, and refer to droughts that recently hit parts of the region. “It’s a classic conflict of the needs of the few outweighing the needs of the many,” said Mike Nagy, business consultant and activist with Wellington Water Watchers.
Although a solution to the current problem could still be years away, the Canadian government has been making moves to hold big companies responsible for the resources they extract. Last year, Ontario greatly increased the cost for corporations to extract groundwater– previously less than $4 per million litres, the charge has now been raised to $503.71. According to Wheeler, “This new fee is expected to recover a significant portion of the province’s costs of managing groundwater taken by water bottlers, including supporting scientific research, policies, outreach and compliance.”
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