BY SHAFAQ PARWEZ
It is hard to believe a piece of paper can spark a water war. Unfortunately, that is the case.
Nestle Waters Canada is fighting to get its water-taking permit renewed in Aberfoyle which is being opposed by residents and environmentalists. The reason? Not only are the residents worried for their future drinking water supply but the available Nestle water is more expensive than the gas you put in your car. The company only pays a measly $3.71 for every million litres it extracts from wells. Yet, the government is allowing this business to not only continue on its own terms, but thrive.
It is for this very reason that environmentalists have come forth to take action. Chanting the slogan “water should be for life, not for profit,” these people have taken it upon themselves to advocate for change.
The major cause for concern is that even though Nestle’s permit expired on July 31, they are still being allowed to extract water. And residents don’t know how long the water will last.
Another disturbing aspect is Nestle continued to extract water from the wells in southern Ontario despite being fully aware that the region was suffering from a severe drought.
Moreover, residents were never consulted when Nestle was given an automatic extension with regards to the permit.
In the midst of all this commotion, the company maintains that it is committed to remaining engaged with the community. But, if that is the case, why didn’t Nestle officials talk to residents about their permit renewal request?
The only beacon of light has been the former environmental commissioner Ellen Schwartzel, who has spoken against the Liberal’s silence. She also pointed out that not even half of the government’s total water-quantity management expenditure is being recovered from the company.
This is not the first time that the government has shown so much leniency. Not a single government has updated the Water Act, which was established in 1909, despite people’s calls for action. Just imagine the amount of groundwater that has been extracted over these years and how much this has affected the water tables. While everybody else remains on the sideline, Nestle keeps rolling in the dough, not bearing in mind the destructive effects of its actions. It is completely preposterous that the company is taking pure and clean water from wells and selling it to the public in plastic bottles for a hefty price.
The views herein represent the position of the newspaper,
not necessarily the author