Centre Wellington made international news in the fall of 2016.
The multinational water bottler Nestlé Waters purchased the Middlebrook well for its water bottling operation when Centre Wellington, the local municipality, attempted to buy it for its drinking water needs. The purchase affords Nestlé the opportunity to apply for a permit to extract 1.6 million litres a day or over half a billion litres a year from the same aquifer the township relies on for its own water use.
Within months of Nestlé’s cementing its ownership of the Middlebrook well however, the province imposed a two-year moratorium on new or expanded water permits for bottling companies that use groundwater.
This moratorium will end on January 1, 2019 giving the local advocacy group Save Our Water precious and limited time to convince politicians and Ontario’s premier to Say No to Nestlé.
Save Our Water is a group of Centre Wellington residents who are determined that Nestlé will never be permitted to take water from the Middlebrook well and that groundwater will be held as a public trust, now and for future generations. Save Our Water believes that Nestlé’s challenge to Centre Wellington is a challenge to each one of us, as large-scale commercial water bottling threatens each person’s basic right to local drinking water.
Over the last 2 years the Save Our Water group has expanded its membership to include people from all parts of the province and beyond. People opposed to commercial water bottling for moral, ethical and economic reasons – farmers concerned about water for crops, business owners relying on water for production, students, young families, seniors, faith groups, special interest groups – are appalled by the idea of monetizing our precious resource. Working with water allies such as the Wellington Water Watchers, and creating awareness for the campaign through extensive research, protest marches, fundraising events, blue ribbon and lawn sign initiatives, community information talks as well as meetings with public officials, Save Our Water has persisted with its fight and in doing so has encouraged local politicians in the right way forward.
Clearly, leadership must come from the grassroots. With less than one year left in the moratorium, Save Our Water is committed to defending water. With your help we will shift the boundaries of the possible.
Save Our Water Speaks up for the Fish!
We urge the province to redefine water use in terms of how much water must remain in the ground in order to sustain every creek, river, stream, wetland and aquifer and the complex and intricate ecosystems our watersheds support.
The current studies on Centre Wellington’s water aren’t going to address the cumulative impacts on these ecosystems. The ecological trade-offs of any permitted extraction that allows an industry to remove an excessive amount of water from the watershed represents an existential threat to all life forms dependent on that water.
It’s time to think about groundwater and all freshwater as systems that have critical ecological value, not just for you and me, but also for fins, feathers, furs, fields and forests. Forever.
Save Our Water and Wellington Water Watchers
SOW is working closely with Wellington Water Watchers (WWW) to learn from their vast experience with this type of permits to take water. WWW has been at the forefront for over 10 years on Nestlé permit renewals in both Aberfoyle and Hillsburgh. WWW has been successful in getting additional monitoring in place and stood up to Nestlé when they appealed mandatory drought restrictions. Wellington Water Watchers is a respected voice on water protection and exploitation.