Nestle, mayor disagree on 10-year term

Officials  with Nestle Waters Canada say the permit they are seeking is the industry norm, but Puslinch Mayor Dennis Lever says a 10-year term is excessive.

“Everybody’s concerned about the term … it’s too long,” Lever said at the Nestle Waters open house on March 17, which was attended by about 60 people.

Lever acknowledged Nestle Waters has done significant monitoring and additional work requested by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) and also that aggregate producers often receive 10-year water taking permits.

But in order to properly address the issues of Puslinch residents, who are concerned about a possible impact on their own wells from large water users in the area, Lever said the MOE needs to look at the cumulative impact of all water takers.

“We’re all concerned – it’s our water,” he said. “We really need to get a grasp on the whole picture.”

Nestle Waters officials said they did not receive questions at the meeting about the 10-year term for its permit renewal application. They noted the company is not seeking an increase to past permits, which allowed the company to extract up to 3.6 million litres per day from its well.

“We’re asking for exactly what we’ve had for the last 10 years,” Nestle Waters president  John Zupo said at the open house.

Questions from residents at the meeting covered “a little bit of everything,” added corporate affairs director John Challinor.

Some were specifically concerned about water quality – both their own and that in Nestle’s products – while others wondered about production levels at the Aberfoyle plant, Challinor noted.

He explained water taking fluctuates throughout the year and overall the company regularly extracts about 60% of the total permit amount.

Some have suggested the company re-apply for that  reduced amount only, but Challinor said the permit is actually based on 2,500 litres per minute and the company does sometimes produce at that level.

“If we reduce that amount, then we wouldn’t be able to support our business,” he said.

He noted Nestle is not the largest water user in the sub-watershed and stressed no resident or business within the zone of influence of the company’s well has ever been impacted by its water taking operation.

The public commenting period for Nestle’s application ended on March 5. The MOE is expected to make a decision within the next couple months.