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Nestlé sucking up 265 million litres of BC water each year for free, without oversight

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PostedAugust 14, 2013 by in Western Canada

 Nestlé sucking up 265 million litres of BC water each year for free, without oversight

Read this Aug 14 Province story revealing that multinational food conglomerate Nestlé has been harvesting 265 million litres a year of BC groundwater, without payment, oversight, or mandatory reporting.

The price of a litre of bottled water in B.C. is often higher than a litre of gasoline.

However, the price paid by the world’s largest bottled water company for taking 265 million litres of fresh water every year from a well in the Fraser Valley — not a cent.

Because of B.C.’s lack of groundwater regulation, Nestlé Waters Canada — a division of the multi-billion-dollar Switzerland-based Nestlé Group, the world’s largest food company — is not required to measure, report, or pay a penny for the millions of litres of water it draws from Hope and then sells across Western Canada.

According to the provincial Ministry of Environment, “B.C. is the only jurisdiction in Canada that doesn’t regulate groundwater use.”

B.C. ‘DOES NOT LICENSE … OR CHARGE’

“The province does not license groundwater, charge a rental for groundwater withdrawals or track how much bottled water companies are taking from wells,” said a Ministry of Environment spokesperson in an email to The Province.

This isn’t new. Critics have been calling for change for years now, saying the lack of groundwater regulation is just one outdated example from the century-old Water Act.

The Ministry of Environment has said they plan — in the 2014 legislature sitting — to introduce groundwater regulation with the proposed Water Sustainability Act, which would update and replace the existing Water Act, established in 1909. But experts note that successive governments have been talking about modernizing water for decades, but the issue keeps falling off the agenda.

This time, many hope it will be different.

“It’s really the Wild West out here in terms of groundwater. And it’s been going on for over 20 years, that the Ministry of Environment, the provincial government has been saying that they’re going to make these changes, and it just hasn’t gone through yet,” said Linda Nowlan, conservation director from World Wildlife Fund Canada.

‘THEY TAKE IT AND SELL IT BACK TO US’

In the District of Hope, Nestlé’s well draws from the same aquifer relied upon by about 6,000 nearby residents, and some of them are concerned.

“We have water that’s so clean and so pure, it’s amazing. And then they take it and sell it back to us in plastic bottles,” said Hope resident Sharlene Harrison-Hinds.

Sheila Muxlow lives in nearby Chilliwack, downstream the Fraser River from Hope. As campaign director for the WaterWealth Project, she often hears from Hope residents who worry about the government’s lack of oversight with Nestlé’s operations there.

“It’s unsettling,” Muxlow said. “What’s going to happen in the long term, if Nestlé keeps taking and taking and taking?”

While Nestlé is the largest bottled water seller in B.C., others, including Whistler Water and Mountain Spring Water, also draw groundwater from B.C.

When asked by The Province, those companies declined to release the volume of their withdrawals.

Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/news/Wild+West+groundwater+Billion+dollar+Nestl%C3%A9+extracting+drinking/8785227/story.html


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