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  • Writer's pictureSave Our Water

Writing the Story of Water in Centre Wellington

As of December 8, 2020, with Bill 213, the Province enacted new municipal veto legislation for water bottlers.

The legislation says that NO big water bottler can come to any community in Ontario to take a huge amount of water for bottling, EVER, if the municipality says no.

Our community, with its marches, videos, social media presence, signs, blue ribbons, letters, research and public meetings positioned Centre Wellington as the line in the sand against water bottlers.

And our Council took a stand, declaring water a public trust (which means no private water) and passing a resolution that Centre Wellington is “not a willing host community for water taking for commercial water bottling under any circumstances.”

The municipality made its position clear.

The new legislation allowing a municipal veto is transformative, and a profound change for which we can all be proud! What Nestlé wanted was a permit to pump water equal to the amount 3 of our 8 municipal wells use in a day. What Nestlé might be able to get is a permit to pump about 2/3 of what 1 of our 8 wells uses in a day.

This Cause is Not Over.

With the municipal veto there is a threshold. A water bottler could still apply to take a moderate amount of water, without community consent. Up to 379,000 litres per day. We believe any amount of water taken from Centre Wellington to go into plastic bottles is an environmentally destructive practice. And any volume extracted from the west side of Elora, where the Middlebrook well sits, could interfere with developing future municipal wells in Centre Wellington. Nestlé’s proposed plan for Middlebrook thankfully provided the Ministry the momentum it needed to call a halt, impose a moratorium, and review all of their water-taking policies. Centre Wellington has determined it will need at least 4 new wells to provide reliable water for the next 20 years, and that the west side of Elora in the best area for new water sources1. Further, the Ministry’s Tier 3 Water Budget Study assessed that Centre Wellington is ‘at significant risk’ for future water supplies2.

So, What Do We Do Now?

We know Nestle’s planned sale to Ice River Springs fell through, and we know it is now in discussions with a buyout company, One Rock Capital, for its North American bottled water business. So, we stay alert and ready for the next step, which could come suddenly. Such as a Nestlé pump test at Middlebrook that could happen any time after April 1. We continue to put up signs and banners to make sure Centre Wellington remains the poster community for this issue. We keep up the noise. This fight has turned out to be epic. We appreciate each one of you for finding your place in this big story so far and in the story we have yet to write.

Footnotes: 1 - Draft Water Supply Master Plan - PDF 2 - Centre Wellington Tier 3 Water Budget Study Reports - Link

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