TORONTO—The bottled water industry in Ontario is coming under renewed government scrutiny after a small township was outbid by multinational giant Nestle in its attempt to purchase a well to secure water supply for its growing community.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said today her government will look for ways to put community needs ahead of bottled water corporations.
“As we look at the water bottling industry, that has to be a question because we’re talking about what we could argue is our most precious resource,” she noted.
“There is much pressure on our water, so as we have this discussion about our water, the status of and the treatment of water bottling companies, that needs to be taken into consideration.”
Wynne’s comments came one day after The Canadian Press reported about Nestle’s acquisition of the well from a privately-owned company.
Nestle said the new site would supplement “future business growth” and support its main production site in nearby Aberfoyle, where the company has a bottling plant that employs more than 300 people.
The Township of Centre Wellington Mayor Kelly Linton said they wanted to purchase the well to keep its water supply “safe” from commercial water taking long into the future, and to give the fast-growing community “control of our water source.”
In Ontario, municipalities, mining companies, and golf courses—in addition to the water-bottling companies—are allowed to take a total of 1.4 trillion litres out of the surface and ground water supplies every day.
Wynne said it was time to separate bottled water companies from the many other sectors that have water-taking permits, including mining and construction.
“It’s not good enough, from my perspective, to say there’s lots of industries that need water,” she remarked.
“Water bottling is a different kind of industry and we need to treat it differently.”