One can hardly know about the bottled water issue in Ontario without coming across Wellington Water Watchers.
Mike Nagy, one of the founding members of Wellington Water Watchers, which has been a key leader in Canada’s fight against bottled water—although Mike prefers the term “packaged water” since water now comes in all sorts of containers. The group’s passion comes from a very personal place— the need to protect their community’s source of drinking water.
What makes the Wellington Water Watchers such an effective Freshwater Hero is their strong handle on the technical aspects of the issue—which means everyone—from government to media—often want to talk to them. The group’s creativity, passion, and bravery in the face of opposition, makes them one of Canada’s great water champions, and Freshwater Future is thrilled to recognize them as a Freshwater Hero.
I n Wellington County, where the Wellington Water Watchers work, proposals from Nestlé Waters North America, Inc. (Nestlé Waters) to bottle water raise concerns from their group and others. Most recently, in response to Nestlé Waters recent efforts to out bid the town of Aberfoyle for the rights to the Middlebrook well.
However, Nestlé Waters isn’t the only company taking water from the Great Lakes region and bottling it. In an attempt to address concerns over bottled water in Ontario, the provincial government has taken steps to address all water bottling. In a follow-up to their December announcement of a 2-year ban on new water bottling facilities, the Ontario government recently proposed an increase to the price water-bottling companies pay for the water they take from $3.71 per million liters to $503.71 per million litres. Environmental groups in Ontario are divided in their response—some see it as a step in the right direction towards improving the way we value water; others are calling for an all-out ban on bottling and the selling of water for profit.
In the United States, Nestlé Waters is proposing to more than double the amount of water they are taking at their White Pine Springs Site in Evart, Michigan—an amount that could damage area wetlands and protected plant and animal species.
In 2009, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) ended a ten-year battle with Nestlé Waters that reduced the amount of water being pumped so that nearby wetlands and streams would not be harmed. However, nearby, Nestlé Waters has now revived plans to increase their pumping, which would take up to 400 gallons of water per minute from aquifers that feed local streams and flow into Lake Michigan.
Analysis by the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center suggests that the information Nestlé Waters presented with their permit application is inadequate, and that there could be harmful impacts to area’s wetlands and protected species.
Are there other issues like this happening in the Great Lakes that you think are important? Freshwater Future wants to know what water issues stand out to you. Let us know at bit.ly/FFInterest