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Action alert: Stop Nestle Canada's request for a 10-year water permit in Guelph!

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Nestlé Waters Canada has applied to renew its permit to withdraw water in Aberfoyle, Ontario. It has requested an unprecedented 10-year extension on its current permit of up to 3.6 million litres per day, an equivalent of nearly one and a half Olympic size swimming pools per day and a total of up to 1.314 billion litres per year.

Bottled water has harmful impacts on our environment. With climate change and Canada's dwindling water sources, we need to preserve our water sources for our use and future generations use. Water is a human right, global commons and public trust. Water should not be used for private gain.

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment is providing the public with an opportunity to comment on Nestlé's application. An approval of a 10-year extension by the Ministry of the Environment would be not only shortsighted but also irresponsible given the challenges of climate change and Canada's dwindling water sources. The deadline for public comments is Saturday, March 5th, 2011. We urge you to request a limit on Nestlé's application by submitting your comments here.

In 2008, due to the Wellington Water Watchers and efforts of the Guelph Chapter and other activists, Nestlé's permit was limited from five to two years and Nestlé's was required to conduct extensive monitoring on the impact of their water taking. For more info click here.

Please feel free to use the points below and/or include your own comments. We encourage you to visit the Wellington Water Watchers website for additional points, news and upcoming events.

Key points:

-Bottled water has harmful impacts on our environment. In some communities, up to 80% of single-use plastic bottles end up in landfills. It also takes three times as much water to make the bottle as it does to fill it. It is a myth that bottled water is a healthier option. According to the Polaris Institute, water bottling plants are inspected on average only once every three years compared to some cities that test their water several times a day.

-Canada needs to protect its existing water sources. Although Canada holds nearly 20% of the world's freshwater, only 1% of our water is renewable, or replenished by rain or snowfall every year. A recent Statistics Canada study showed that renewable water in southern Canada has declined 8.5% since 1971 with an annual loss "equivalent to the water contained in 1.4 million Olympic-size swimming pools." It is unclear how climate change and drought will affect Guelph's water supply in the coming years. The Ministry should limit Nestlé's water permit in order to protect current and future generation's water supplies.

-The amount of groundwater in the Grand River watershed is not known. Allowing large-volume water taking is like writing blank cheques on a bank account with an unknown balance.

-There are concerns that water taking is harming Mill Creek. There are no brook trout in the stretch of creek that runs beside the bottling plant, but there are trout in the rest of the creek. Is so much water being taken that it is preventing spring water from upwelling into the stream-bed? Until this is resolved, a precautionary approach should be taken.

-Water is a global commons, public trust and human right. Nestlé should not be permitted to profit from our water commons, something that belongs to us all. Under the Public Trust Doctrine, governments should make decisions that sustain our natural resources for the long-term use and enjoyment of the entire populace, not just the privileged who can buy inequitable access.

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