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Ontario Government Issues Moratorium to Examine Water Regulations


traffic sign now leaving ontarioJust a few weeks ago we reported on Nestle’s purchase of a well in Ontario: the company outbid the local community in an effort to expand their enterprise in Canada where they currently can pump water from the ground at a rate of $3.71 per million liters of water.

The government of the Township of Central Wellington attempted to place a bid on the well to safeguard the future of its citizens – coming fresh off of an extended drought, residents were worried that pumping the water out of the area for corporate interests could endanger their well-being and leave them depleted of groundwater.

In response to Nestle’s purchase of the well, the government in Ontario has issued a moratorium that, in effect, will not allow new permits for businesses to extract groundwater for the purposes of bottling and selling. So, fresh off the purchase, Nestle must wait until 2019 to even begin testing the water within the well itself, and by that time their permits may be permanently blocked.

Environmental Minister David Gray emphasized that these measures were necessary, especially in light of the significant drought in the surrounding region. “This really deals with the issue of water being withdrawn from aquifers and groundwater that isn’t returned,” he noted, highlighting the lasting effect companies like Nestle have on the communities from which they extract groundwater.

The moratorium also stipulates that permits for pump tests that measure the quality and quantity of water in wells suitable for bottling cannot be issued. With the outcry from local residents reaching national headlines, Ontario plans to completely overhaul and re-examine its prices and regulations regarding the bottled water industry as a whole.

At the moment there is no definitive plan to raise the fee of $3.71 per million liters of water for companies wishing to bottle the water, but with a full review in order it is likely that this point will be hotly contested and debated. With the amount that companies like Nestle charge per bottle of water, this rate will likely increase.

“I expect we’ll hear a lot on pricing, which is a very important concern for us,” Murray commented to The Canadian Press. “We’re also looking at a number of different policy outcomes on how pricing relates to conservation and how pricing and local planning can come together to get better regional water planning.”

The government of Ontario plans to be fully informed when new regulations are drafted and implemented. They intend to commission studies examining the overall ecological impact of regularly pumping water from the area. The ongoing effects of climate change in the region will also be considered.

A moratorium is an important first step, but Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown worried that it may not be enough. Echoing sentiments that the price currently set for companies like Nestle is far too low, he expressed concern that effective change may not occur after media channels have stopped following the story.

This ongoing issue underlines how crucial it is for families all over to stop relying on bottled water. To help protect the planet, simply use an NSF-certified drinking filter or a whole house carbon filter to deliver crisp, fresh water to your home at a fraction of the cost. Nestle isn’t paying over a dollar per bottle – why should you?

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