CENTRE WELLINGTON – Save Our Water members are heading to Toronto next week to let the Ontario government know they don’t want commercial water bottling companies like Nestlé Waters to take water from areas like Fergus and Elora.
The local water advocacy group has a petition with some 3,500 signatures that will be presented to Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner, who will in turn present it to the Legislature.
The group is inviting all who are interested to join them as they fill the members’ gallery on Feb. 27.
The government set a moratorium on water-taking permits that expires in October of this year.
Nestlé Waters has applied to take water from its Middlebrook well near Elora and that has many local residents concerned about the town’s water supply, both now and in the future.
According to the Places to Grow Act, Centre Wellington is slated to double its population by 2041 and that will only increase demand on the town’s water supply.
“Over the last four years there have been three major scientific studies,” said Jan Beveridge, a member of Save Our Water.
“Now we know the municipality’s water is at significant risk. It’s the ministry’s own study that determined this.”
Nestlé has five wells in Canada: one in Aberfoyle, one near Hillsburgh, the Middlebrook well that is awaiting permits, and two in British Columbia.
“It’s not right that small communities should take the brunt, especially for an industry that’s unnecessary,” Beveridge said. “Nestlé’s water-taking at Middlebrook will directly compete with Centre Wellington’s expansion of its municipal water system.”
Dr. Andreanne Simard, Nestlé Waters’ natural resource manager, stated in an email that the company is cognisant of the community’s concerns.
“We appreciate how serious people take the issue of careful, prudent management of water resources,” she stated.
“We feel the same way. That’s why we have sought the opportunity to meet with Centre Wellington to discuss this issue. Unfortunately, all of our requests for dialogue have been declined.”
Simard added, “To be clear, our proposal is to have a pump test conducted. This would provide information critical to the community in its consideration of local water needs.
“It would also address a shortcoming that was flagged as a critical gap in the work done in support of the municipality’s Water Supply Master Plan.
“In the end, hopefully we can all agree that decisions of this importance must be rooted in verifiable science.”
For more information about the petition, the rally on Feb. 27 and information about local water issues, visit www.saveourwater.ca.