Who Will Pay if The Taps Run Dry?
by OldElPaso_MuchoFunTonight on December 1, 2016 - 10:39pm
This post will provide a brief summary of a news article posted by CBC News, Kitchener-Waterloo, on September 26, 2016. The article, written by Kate Bueckert, is titled “Why Nestlé's Aberfoyle well matters so much to Guelph, Ont., residents”. Following the summary, a brief discussion of thoughts and opinions regarding the article will be provided.
This article is written in anticipation of a city council meeting that occurred on September 26, 2016. Council met discuss a permit to take water issued to Nestlé, a well-known company that sells bottled water. Nestlé currently operates a bottling plant south east of Guelph, Ontario. Their operations have come into the spotlight in the news lately as they try to renew a permit which allows them to withdraw one million litres of water for only $3.71 CAD. The article is written to inform and update any interested parties on how this divisive issue is proceeding. Parties involved in this issue include Nestlé, municipal and provincial government, citizens of Guelph, and environmental organizations. The article explains how Guelph is the largest city in Canada that relies exclusively on groundwater for its water supply. The issue is that Guelph residents are concerned that Nestlé’s water-drawing exceeds reasonable limits. Nestlé draws water from the same aquifer as the city of Guelph. Citizens are concerned about water scarcity in the future as a renewal of this permit would allow Nestlé to keep extracting huge quantities of water at an inconceivably cheap price, especially relative to the City and its constituents. Municipal government understands the issue, but Mayor Cam Guthrie stated that Nestlé’s takings have no effect on Guelph water. Environmental groups are calling for a boycott of Nestlé in response to the situation and the apparent lack of action. The premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynn, has commissioned the Environment Minister to review this permit.
This issue is of critical importance in the discussion of resource management, specifically regarding water. There is a lot of serious conflict surrounding this issue among provincial and municipal governments, and citizens of Guelph. Although many types of conflict are present, the most important in my opinion is interest conflict. This type of conflict arises from disagreement on the distribution of costs and benefits, and who is responsible for paying said costs. The citizens believe that Nestlé is paying next to nothing for a resource that they pay a lot for. This is one cost. Another more frightening cost would be the loss of the water source. Nestlé may suffer economically but they make pick up and go somewhere else, whereas the citizens would not be so fortunate. I believe the permit should be reviewed and an economic analysis performed on redistributing the costs of water extraction. State management of natural resources is an important practise. This water permit is being reviewed on a provincial level and will have a huge impact on the livelihood of people within the community. When done properly, state resource management can produce economic wealth, guide sustainable development, and manage conflict. It would be nice to see the Province of Ontario assert some authority on this issue. Perhaps charging Nestlé more is a very reasonable source of wealth. Cutting back extraction levels would please the citizens in the area, and provincial oversight could provide for sustainable resource extraction. I am very excited to see how this turns out.
Bruce, Mitchell. Resource and Environmental Management in Canada. 5th Edition. Don Mills: Oxford University Press & Sampson Mews, 2015