News and media
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Board Chair, Wellington Water Watchers
|Dr. Robert Case
Board Member, Wellington Water Watchers
Recent Press Releases
|7 DECEMBER, 2017|
|10 OCTOBER, 2017|
|5 JUNE, 2017|
|11 APRIL, 2017|
|16 MARCH, 2017|
Recent Media Coverage
Festival of African culture attracts hundreds to city hall: African community and environmental activists forming alliances
TERRY PENDER | WATERLOO REGION RECORD | 19 FEBRUARY 2018
The eighth annual Bring on the Sunshine Family Day Festival, a celebration of African culture, attracted hundreds of people to the Rotunda inside Kitchener City Hall Monday, much to the delight of Allen Magama., one of the organizers. "We want to bridge the gap that exists sometimes between understanding what African people are like, and how we have assimilated here," said Magama. [...] Arlene Slocombe was at the festival. She is the executive director of Wellington Water Watchers, and readily acknowledges the green movement was maybe too white. Drinking water protection affects everyone, and building links among different communities can only strengthen environmental organizations, she said. See full article
Draining us dry: scarcity discourses in contention over bottled water extraction
DANIEL JAFFEE & ROBERT A. CASE | INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF JUSTICE AND SUSTAINABILITY | 2 FEBRUARY 2018
This article examines conflict over commercial water extraction in a Northern setting where access to potable tap water is nearly universal, yet local water supplies are increasingly constrained. It addresses three main questions: (1) How are narratives or discourses of water scarcity mobilised by a range of actors in local conflicts over groundwater extraction for water bottling?; (2) To what extent do these discourses invoke biophysical versus socially produced scarcity, current versus future scarcity, and local versus regional or global scales of scarcity?; and (3) What are the implications of the findings for efforts by environmental advocates and communities to protect local water supplies? We explore these questions by analysing a local case study of conflict over groundwater extraction by the leading bottled water firm, Nestlé Waters, in southwestern Ontario, Canada. See full article
Marketing may explain popularity of bottled water: UW study
RYAN FLANAGAN | CTV NEWS KITCHENER | 1 FEBRUARY 2018
Bottled water is more expensive than water that comes out of the tap, and about as healthy – so why do people keep buying it? The answer, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo, likely has a lot to do with how it’s marketed. The study found that bottled water companies target their advertising to send messages that suggest their product is somehow affiliated with liveliness and vibrancy. See full article
Local group wants the province to expand greenbelt coverage
KHALIL HASSANALI | 570 NEWS | 1 FEBRUARY 2018
The Government of Ontario is looking to expand the footprint of greenbelt conservation areas both in the Region of Waterloo as well as provincially. That’s a good thing according to Arlene Slocombe, executive director of Wellington Water Watchers, but she wants the coverage to have an even larger impact to protect the local land near waterways and wetlands against future growth. See full article
Nestle Canada seeks Six Nations support to take ground water
CHRIS PIMENTEL & LYNDA POWLESS | TURTLE ISLAND NEWS | 24 JANUARY 2018
Nestle Canada needs Six Nations. The multi-national company that can draw up to 4.7 million litres of water from Ontario aquifers is hoping to convince Ontario to re-approve a 10 year renewal of their water taking permit. But new regulations require that they consult with Six Nations if they want to continue to draw water from Six Nations traditional territory. See full article
Why You Should Probably Never Drink Bottled Water Again And 10 facts about the bottled water industry
KRISTA WATSON | GLOBAL CITIZEN | 10 JANUARY 2018
Bombshell report accuses Nestlé of violating water permit, pumping extra 54 million gallons per year
JEN HAYDEN | DAILY KOS | 28 DECEMBER, 2017
AFRICA - As California was in the middle of a serious drought in 2015, the Desert Sun newspaper dropped a bombshell report claiming Nestlé Waters North America had basically been draining California’s water supply in the San Bernardino Forest with little or no regulation. That investigative article prompted the California Water Board to begin to seriously investigate how much water Nestlé North America was actually pumping and the results are in—Nestlé was pumping an estimated 54 million gallons more than their permit allowed. See full article
Cape Town’s “Day Zero” Approaches
KAYLA RITTER | CIRCLE OF BLUE | 27 DECEMBER, 2017
AFRICA - Local authorities estimate that taps will be turned off by April 29, 2018. Cape Town, a city of 4 million, continues to grapple with severe water scarcity following three consecutive years of below average rainfall. The city’s six major reservoirs are expected, by late April, to run dry on “Day Zero.” For months, local authorities encouraged residents to cut water consumption. The city’s goal is to lower daily water use to 500 million liters, which allocates a mere 87 liters (23 gallons) of water per person per day. A typical desert Southwest resident in the United States consumes five times that much water in a day. See full article
Your recycling could become trash: The 'golden age' of recycling is coming to an end
MARY-CATHERINE MCINTOSH | CBC RADIO | 26 DECEMBER, 2017
As of January 1, 2018, China will no longer import much of the plastic and paper we have been shipping there for decades. China is the world's biggest importer of recycled materials, unloading the burden from countries like Canada and the U.S. See full article
$180bn investment in plastic factories feeds global packaging binge
MATTHEW TAYLOR | THE GUARDIAN | 26 DECEMBER, 2017
Colossal funding in manufacturing plants by fossil fuel companies will increase plastic production by 40%, risking permanent pollution of the earth. The global plastic binge which is already causing widespread damage to oceans, habitats and food chains, is set to increase dramatically over the next 10 years after multibillion dollar investments in a new generation of plastics plants in the US. [...] The new facilities – being built by corporations like Exxon Mobile Chemical and Shell Chemical – will help fuel a 40% rise in plastic production in the next decade, according to experts, exacerbating the plastic pollution crisis that scientist warn already risks “near permanent pollution of the earth.” See full article
London Mayor Seeks Revival of Public Drinking Fountains
ALAN COWELL | THE NEW YORK TIMES | 4 DECEMBER, 2017
LONDON — It is a worldwide emblem of urban life, as ubiquitous as the clutched paper cup of latte or the sight of a pedestrian in rapt communication with the screen of a smartphone. It is the plastic bottle of water, poking from a backpack or grasped in a gloved hand, stacked on the refrigerated shelves of supermarkets, or discarded in the gutter. [...] But as concerns mount over the detritus of plastics that elude recycling, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, let it be known on Monday that he wished to redress the balance by providing more drinking fountains and bottle-filling stations while reducing the prevalence of single-use packaging. See full article
Protesters rally against Nestlé Waters' plans for Elora well
TONY SAXON | GUELPH TODAY | 27 NOVEMER, 2017
ELORA – Those opposed to Nestlé Waters' plans to increase its water taking from a well just outside of Elora aren’t going to let the issue fade. Roughly 100 people showed up Sunday afternoon, gathering at a farm on Middlebrook Road for a rally then marching to the Middlebrook Well where Nestlé hopes to eventually start pumping bottled water. [...] Local Save Our Water member Amy Corner said that with Centre Wellington slated to double its population in the next 25 years, meaning the township must protect its water resources for its future residents. “If Nestlé get the chance to pump water… they will pump the equivalent of the amount of water that three wells supply us daily. That’s the reality, that’s a lot of water,” Corner said. See full article
Protests continue over Nestle pumping and sale of ground water
MARC MONTGOMERY | RADIO CANADA INTERNATIONAL | 27 NOVEMER, 2017
Permit expired, but pumping continues People in and around the west-central Wellington County in Ontario held a protest this weekend at the controversial Nestle wellsite of the Middlebrook Rd. property in Central Wellington, near Guelph. The site had been sought by the county for its own needs but was outbid by Nestle which operates other sites in the region. The group of citizens, environmentalists, farmers and others has long been concerned about commercial extraction of vast quantities of acquifer water by commercial operations in the province.. The vast amount of water is extracted for pittance amounts of permit fees, and then bottled and sold in plastic containers that usually end up as waste littering the landscape, lakes, and oceans. See full article
Residents call on Premier to say No to Nestlé
CTV NEWS KITCHENER | 27 NOVEMER, 2017
Nestlé bid to pump 2.1M litres of Michigan groundwater a day blocked by municipality
ALEXANDER MAVEAL | GLOBAL NEWS | 20 NOVEMER, 2017
A Michigan township has temporarily blocked Nestlé’s attempt to pump millions of litres of groundwater for bottled water — the latest in a trend of municipalities engaged in legal battles with the world’s largest food and beverage company. See full article
Water warriors: A small community's struggle to keep water public
DIANE BALLANTYNE | EDUCATION FORUM | 17 NOVEMBER, 2017
About two years ago, Nestlé came knocking on the door of an unused property in Centre Wellington, Ontario (better known as Fergus and Elora, pre-amalgamation). The owners of the Middlebrook Road property had a modest water-taking permit and had floundered with a “make your own” beer and wine operation. They also provided modest quantities of water for keeping construction site dust down and filling swimming pools, etc. The operation did not include any bottling of the water. Unbeknownst to the community, however, the owners had renamed the operation as a “numbered company” and applied not just for a renewal of their permit, but for an increase that would allow the extraction of 1.6 million litres of water per day. See full article
Assertive action needed to protect water
MIKE NAGY | WATERLOO REGION RECORD | 21 OCTOBER, 2017
The past year and a half has seen more progress by the Government of Ontario on water policy than over the previous nine years of Wellington Water Watchers' existence. Because of new provincial guidelines for bottling permits, etc., one might think that our water is protected. However, on Monday—the first anniversary of a government announcement that it planned a two-year moratorium on new and expanded water bottling permits—it is still business as usual: the abuse of our aquifers continues, and Ontario's water is not yet protected long term. The government must end the consumptive, wasteful extraction of Ontario's groundwater for bottling. See full article
Water Blessing: Reconnecting with History and Responsibility
DOREEN NICOLL | RAISE THE HAMMER | 10 OCTOBER, 2017
An hour-long celebration organized by Wellington Water Watchers and the Unitarian Congregation of Guelph had me seeing water in an entirely new light. See full article
My life as a water way, in four parts
DEIRDRE PIKE | HAMILTON SPECTATOR | 7 JUNE, 2017
Waterstock was a fantastic event using local food and music to draw attention to the need for Premier Kathleen Wynne to stop allowing permits to bottle water. We can no longer take the risk of depleting ground water when climate change makes everything more unpredictable and the associated plastic pollution is creating a global crisis. See full article
Waterstock's success came at the perfect time, says Wellington Water Watchers chair
JORDAN SNOBELEN | GUELPH MERCURY TRIBUNE | 15 JUNE, 2017
Mike Nagy, the chair of Wellington Water Watchers, is exhausted after the Waterstock festival went off without a hitch this past Sunday in Erin, Ont., drawing upwards of 3,000 people under a hard sun to eat, hear live music and sample local brews. Waterstock was the culmination of more than 10 years of work and advocacy, aimed at showing Premier Kathleen Wynne that people care about their water supply, said Nagy. Reinforcing the Watcher’s Water for Life not-for-profit campaign, Nagy believes the festival came together at the perfect time when permits to take water are up for review, and Nestlé is after a pumping permit at a recently purchased well in Erin. “This is a really important period because every day there’s more acquisition of water by central corporations, and it’s a trend that has to stop because we’re going to lose access to our water,” Nagy said. See full article
Waterstock: The message, the music, the great time. Thousands turn out to event at Erin Fairgrounds to support the message that water is for life, not profit
TONY SAXON | GUELPH TODAY | 12 JUNE, 2017
The first-ever Waterstock was a big, sunny success this past Sunday at the Erin Fairgrounds. Water is for life, not profit, was the dominant message behind the music and up front from the many guest speakers who spoke between sets. “Waterstock is the culmination and the rallying point for everyone in Ontario, not just those that are here,” said Mike Nagy, chairman of Wellington Water Watchers, who put the event on with Riverfest Elora. “For ten years we’ve been fighting these permits of Nestlé and others. It’s a madness that has to stop." See full article and 22 photos.
Water bottle battle in Erin
CTV NEWS KITCHENER | 11 JUNE, 2017
CTV News coverage from Waterstock. See video.
Ontario increases water-taking permit price for bottled water companies
JESSICA CHIN | HUFFPOST CANADA | 9 JUNE, 2017
The Ontario government is clamping down on the bottled-water system by increasing the price charged to companies, but critics say the move doesn't go far enough. Starting Aug. 1, water bottlers will pay $503.71 for every million litres of groundwater taken, compared to the previous fee of $3.71. The Canadian Bottled Water Association "flatly rejects" the new fee. Council of Canadians regional organizer Mark Calzavara said Ontarians "overwhelmingly want to see bottled water phased out." "Charging roughly one penny per case of bottled water will do nothing to protect vulnerable groundwater," Calzavara told CBC News. See full article.
Ontario increasing groundwater withdrawal fee for water bottlers
WATER CANADA | 8 JUNE, 2017
The Province of Ontario has announced it will be charging water bottling companies an additional $500 for groundwater withdrawals. Beginning Aug. 1, 2017, water bottlers will pay $503.71 for every million litres of groundwater taken. The government has instituted the new fee in order to help recover costs associated with managing groundwater taken by water bottlers, including supporting scientific research on the environmental impacts as well as enhanced data analysis on groundwater taken for water bottling. “The fee of $503.71 is neither good or bad as we believe that these permits need to be phased out within 10 years,” said Mike Nagy of Wellington Water Watchers. See full article.
Time for Ontario to protect its water supplies
OP-ED | MIKE NAGY AND MAUDE BARLOW | WATERLOO REGION RECORD | 11 MAY, 2017
New Ontario guidelines regarding commercial water-bottling permits do not address the problems of protecting Ontario's groundwater, reducing plastic waste and pollution and ensuring water is for life, not profit. The revised guidelines make companies like Nestlé Waters Canada jump over more hurdles to renew their permits to take water. On their own, however, the guidelines will not significantly reduce or stop the bottling of Ontario's precious water by multinational corporations such as Nestlé. See full article.
Ontario's Waterstock reveals 2017 lineup with Bry Webb, Reuben and the Dark, Band of People
SARAH MURPHY | EXCLAIM! | 27 APRIL, 2017
Waterstock will be dousing Erin, ON, with some sweet tunes this summer in support of the "Water for Life Not Profit" movement, and organizers have just unveiled the first round of performers for the event. Bry Webb of Constantines, Reuben Bullock of Reuben and the Dark, and Band of People are slated to headline the one-day festival, which takes place from 12-5 p.m. on June 11 at the Erin Fairgrounds. See full article.
Nestlé discusses Middlebrook well purchase
OLIVIA RUTT | THE WELLINGTON ADVERTISER | 28 APRIL, 2017
ERIN - Nestlé Waters Canada officials opened up about the purchase of the Middlebrook Well outside of Elora during an Erin council meeting on April 18. Andreanne Simard and Jennifer Kerr of Nestlé Waters Canada presented an annual report as part of a discussion about an annual contribution from Nestlé to Erin, which received strong opposition from many at the meeting. Council voted 4-1 in favour of the annual voluntary levy of $0.50 per 1,000 litres, with a minimum payment of $25,000 per year. Nestlé’s purchase of the Middlebrook well near Elora was broached by councillor Matt Sammut, who said he was skeptical about Nestlé’s bid against Centre Wellington, which he said “gives an appearance that the community is not as important as a well for your profit.” See full article.
Time to phase out bottled water
READERS' LETTERS | TORONTO STAR | 13 APRIL, 2017
Elizabeth Griswold’s critique of the Toronto Star’s editorial regarding bottled water displays a surprising poverty of the imagination. Today, we need everyone — government, citizens, businesses — to put their heads together to resolve what is rapidly becoming an intractable ecological crisis: the massive taking of groundwater that is packaged in plastic bottles and sold. Griswold’s article trots out many tired clichés, such as “anti-water-bottle arguments are based on emotion, not fact” See full article.
Nestlé bottled water travels up to 3,100 Km. Your tap is metres away
EMMA PALING | HUFFINGTON POST CANADA | 13 APRIL, 2017
Bottled water — and its sourcing and plastic packaging — has become a controversial product. Now, there's another reason you might want to avoid it. Nestlé, which is a major bottler of water in Canada, sources water from plants in Hope, B.C. and Aberfoyle, Ont. The plastic bottles then travel hundreds — sometimes thousands — of kilometres to be sold across the country, activists from the Council of Canadians have discovered. See full article.
Nestlé Waters offers Town of Erin money for community benefit fund
KATE BUECKERT | CBC NEWS | 12 APRIL, 2017
An offer by Nestlé Waters Canada to develop a community benefit fund for the Town of Erin is cause for concern, water advocates say. The fund would give the town 50 cents for every 1,000 litres of water Nestlé takes from the well they own in town. Nestlé has said the town would get at least $25,000 annually. But Mike Nagy of the Wellington Water Watchers said the fund is a "quasi-profit situation" and no municipality should profit from the sale of water. See full article.
Town urged to reject voluntary water payments from Nestlé
KELCEY WRIGHT-JOHNSON | ERIN ADVOCATE | 11 APRIL, 2017
Over a dozen Erin residents gathered at Town Hall to support Linda Rosier as she urged Council to decline a proposal by Nestlé Waters Canada to pay a voluntary levy to the Town for water pumped from its Hillsburgh well. They have offered $0.50 per 1,000 litres annually, with a minimum payment of $25,000, and no financial cap. Rosier says that Erin citizens can raise the money themselves. “This is our moment to shine; to come forward, to address those environmental issues that bottled water causes,” said Rosier at the April 4 meeting. “This is a decision that is really going to change the face of this town forever; it’s a legacy decision and it’s being carefully watched. We have a chance to stand up and be counted as caretakers of our precious resource.” See full article.
Water Watchers meeting to oppose Nestlé levy proposal in Erin
CHRIS HALLIDAY | GUELPH MERCURY TRIBUNE | 11 APRIL, 2017
Wellington Water Watchers is holding what it is calling an “urgent public meeting” on Wednesday evening in Erin to urge town council to reject a proposed voluntary levy from water bottler Nestle. “No one, including any municipality, should be profiting from the extraction of water,” Water Watchers chairperson Mike Nagy said in a news release. “If accepted, Nestle’s proposal could set a dangerous precedent and will impact communities across the country, while leaving behind a hot potato for future councils to deal with. See full article.
Chefs, musicians, activists set to launch Say No to Nestlé campaign, prepare for Waterstock
CHRIS HALLIDAY | ORANGEVILLE.COM | 4 APRIL, 2017
More than half a decade removed from Foodstock, celebrity chefs, musicians, artists and activists are reuniting to launch Waterstock as part of a local advocacy group’s Say No to Nestlé campaign. Waterstock, which will be held at the Bela Farm overlooking Nestlé Waters Canada well in Hillsburgh on June 11, follows in the tradition of Foodstock and Soupstock events, which mobilized public opposition and ultimately stopped The Highland Companies’ mega-quarry plan in Melancthon. Through Waterstock and its Say No to Nestlé campaign, the Wellington Water Watchers and Riverfest Elora aim to convince the provincial government to deny any renewals of Nestlé’s water-taking permits in Hillsburgh and Aberfoyle, as well as phase out permits for all water-bottling in Ontario. See full article.
It’s time we weaned ourselves off bottled water
OP-ED | EDITORIAL BOARD | TORONTO STAR | 26 MARCH, 2017
We Canadians love our water, or so we say. In national polls we’ve declared it our most valuable natural resource. We just wrapped up Canada Water Week. And Toronto will host a festival of documentaries about water starting this Wednesday. We’re perfectly happy to celebrate the abundance of fresh, drinkable water in lakes and rivers across the country. Yet somehow, when we’re looking to quench our thirst, an awful lot of us reflexively reach for bottled water, not that same fresh, drinkable water available at a tiny fraction of the price simply by turning on the tap. Our overreliance on bottled water is a waste of money and a detriment to the environment. It’s time we resolved to end it. See full article.
Wellington Water Watchers celebrate 10 year anniversary
MATTEO CIMELLARO | THE ONTARIAN | 22 MARCH, 2017
Local politicians joined members past and present to celebrate 10 years of the Wellington Water Watchers at the Wooly on March 18. According to the Wellington Water Watchers’ website, it is an “organization of citizens dedicated to the protection, restoration and conservation of drinking water of Guelph and Wellington County.” The non-profit, volunteer-operated organization has continually made efforts to protect the area’s natural resources, most recently in opposing Nestlé’s procurement of nearby wells. To mark a decade of community involvement and to raise awareness about their ongoing campaign against Nestlé, Wellington Water Watchers announced the inception of Waterstock, a new initiative blending music, art, and activism. See full article.
Stuck on the bottle
COREY MINTZ | THE GLOBE AND MAIL | 21 MARCH, 2017
You know you’re a 1990s kid if you remember bottled water. Back in the crazy days between the fall of the Berlin Wall and 9/11, fictional teens went to Degrassi High, America dropped bombs on Iraq and people actually paid for water taken from public sources and put into disposable bottles. Wait, all of those things are still happening? That’s nuts. Most Canadians have perfectly good water pouring out of our taps, and drinking it doesn’t require the wasteful practice of shipping plastic bottles around the country or world. And yet, the Canadian bottled-water industry – lead by Nestlé ... – generates $2.5-billion in annual sales. See full article.
Canadians value, worry about country’s supply of fresh water: poll
SHAWN MCCARTHY | THE GLOBE AND MAIL | 20 MARCH, 2017
Canadians see fresh water as the country’s most important resource, but worry the country faces a growing risk to the quality and adequate supply of clean water, a new poll from the Royal Bank of Canada says. The release of the survey Monday comes after President Donald Trump released a proposed budget that week that would eliminate programs and regulations that protect the Great Lakes and other binational waterways. Mr. Trump’s proposed cutbacks are sparking new fears about the future quality of shared Canadian-U.S. water resources. See full article.
Water is a sacred gift
BISHOP MICHAEL BIRD | OP-ED | WATERLOO REGION RECORD | 16 MARCH, 2017
March 16 is Bottled Water Free Day, a day for us to think critically about the very concept of bottling this sacred gift. Our faith communities have long sought, as a best practice, not to use bottled water; some have even banned its use outright. Every bottle of water purchased sends a message that it is OK for multinational corporations to commodify local water sources for material gain. Worse still, every plastic bottle continues to inflict unnecessary wounds upon the Earth long after it has been discarded. See full article.
Over 150 articles, interviews and television news reports since May 2016. Below is a small sampling. To see the full list, click here
|THE MEDIUM | MARCH 13, 2017|
|570 NEWS | FEBRUARY 12, 2017|
|NOW TORONTO | FEBRUARY 6, 2017|
|ORANGEVILLE BANNER | JANUARY 20, 2017|
|GUELPH MERCURY TRIBUNE | JANUARY 18, 2017|
|THE GLOBE AND MAIL | JANUARY 18, 2017|
|TORONTO STAR | JANUARY 18, 2017|
|CBC NEWS | JANUARY 18, 2017|
|GUELPH TODAY | JANUARY 18, 2017|
|GUELPH TODAY | JANUARY 12, 2017|
|CBC NEWS | JANUARY 6, 2017|
|GUELPH MERCURY TRIBUNE | JANUARY 6, 2017|
|CBC NEWS | JANUARY 4, 2017|