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.

         Link to article:



            Bruce, Mitchell. Resource and Environmental Management in Canada. 5th Edition. Don Mills: Oxford University Press & Sampson Mews, 2015



Hello OldElPaso_MuchoFunTonight

First off I would like to applaud you for you alias it is simply amazing.

Now to the subject at hand, I appreciate that you took the time to address an issue that hits close to home. Given that this effect the quality of the water we all consume I think it is very important that we gain an understanding of what is going on around us.That being said I also disagree with all the commotion that is being stirred up in respect to Nestle and their contracts. what people have to take into account is the economic standing having Nestle present has.The packing facility generates lots of jobs and provides a service to the people. Therefore, even though this has negative environmental outcomes it can be argued that the social/economic outcomes are more beneficial.

Hi OldElPaso_MuchoFunTonight

I really enjoyed your post. This is a topic that isn't talked about very much so I liked that you chose to write about it. I think that you really did a good job mentioning the potential consequences of Nestle continuing to draw water from the aquifer. I understand that the Nestle plant employs many people so I don't think that we should try to remove the plant, but I do think that there should be a cap on how much water they can withdraw and there should be an increase in price for what they withdraw because $3.71/ million litres is absolutely ridiculous.

I think you connected this news article assignment well with the course material. Using the four types of conflict to analyze the Nestle water issue was a good way to get a better sense of how each party feels about the current situation.

I just wanted to elaborate further in regards to interest conflict, the focus of your blog assignment.This article really highlights the tension between the community and the Nestle corporation. The community is concerned with the potential water shortages that the corporation poses to the city of Guelph, yet they are also highly dependent on this company for jobs. The corporations seems unbothered by the concerns raised by the community, assuring everyone that their usage has no impact on the communities access to Guelph water. Furthermore, another interest conflict is who is responsible to correct any issues that occur because of the fact. If Nestle were to extract too much of Guelph's water and there did end up being a shortage, who is liable? Who should be responsible for compensating for this loss?

I think your overall blog was good, however there are minor spelling and grammar issues throughout that make it slightly difficult to follow. Overall, good job! I hope that the information I posted allows for deeper thought and consideration.


I have recently become really interested in the issue of corporations extracting fresh water and selling it to consumers. Water should be a public resource, not sold off for private profit. With this being said, the tittle of your blog captured my attention and it also gave myself an interesting question to reflect on. The fact that Nestle wants to renew a permit which allows them to withdrawal one million liters of water for $3.71, is outrageous. What is even more outrageous than Nestles plan to renew a permit is the fact that the company got the permit in the first place, as it obviously is not in the best interest for citizens. I also wanted to mention that you did a great job summarizing the article, which is great so that more people can hopefully get involved in this issue! I also liked the fact that you related the article to the different types of conflict. I agree that this issue is an example of interest conflict, mainly because there is no firm agreement regarding who should pay for the costs over the water scarcity issue. Another type of conflict which can be related to this issue is behavioral conflict, due to the fact that there is a historical relationship of the state not looking out for its people, and putting corporations first.

One question I have for you is: Where do you think this issue falls on the issue awareness cycle?