Questions and answers about sharing the City’s groundwater flow model analysis with Nestlé

Why are we providing analysis from our model to Nestlé Waters Canada?

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change updated its water permitting process for water bottlers effective August 1, 2017. Water bottlers are now required to evaluate the cumulative effects that their water takings would or could have on groundwater as part of applications for water takings.

This requirement was added to evaluate the potential for unacceptable impacts that may occur as a result of any proposed water taking, particularly impacts to existing and proposed future municipal groundwater uses.

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change asked that the City share analysis from its science-based model with Nestlé because it is tested and includes the best available information. By sharing analysis from the City’s model and running it with additional data from Nestlé, we can ensure that Nestlé is using the best available science to analyze potential impacts of their current and future water taking as requested in their application. A legal agreement is in place to protect the City’s interests.

This is a positive step toward protecting Guelph’s water resources in the long-term.

Does the City share groundwater data with others?

Yes. The City shares results from its modeling and analysis with other partners including the Grand River Conservation Authority, academic institutions, and neighbouring municipalities and other levels of government. Sharing our knowledge benefits everyone and builds scientific knowledge about groundwater that provides the best possible data for water regulators, managers, users and the communities that take care of this important resource.

Will this increase the likelihood Nestlé Waters Canada’s water taking permit is renewed?

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change will determine the renewal of Nestlé’s permit based in part on results from the model and any impacts to local groundwater resources that the results indicate. Using the City’s tested groundwater flow model will ensure that any potential impacts of Nestlé’s current and future water takings are assessed based on the best available science, giving the MOECC, the City and our community confidence in the results.

Will this change the City’s relationship with Nestlé Waters Canada?

No. Although Nestlé will use results from our model, we do not endorse their water taking application, nor anyone else’s.

We will, however, continue to rely on and defend the results of the model as the best tool to evaluate any water taking activity in the local area.

The City, as a municipal stakeholder, is a commenting agency only since the Nestlé water taking is outside of the City’s jurisdiction. We will continue to provide our own comments on any water-taking permits that Nestlé, or any other agency, submits where there are potential impacts to our groundwater resources.

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, as the regulator, reviews all comments submitted to them for water taking applications and is the sole decision-making authority on these applications.

How will Nestlé Waters Canada use the results?

Nestlé will pay the City’s costs to have the City’s consultant (Matrix Solutions Inc.) perform the work. The consultant will provide Nestlé with the results from the model’s analysis which Nestlé will use for their water taking application.

In turn, raw data provided by Nestlé for the analysis will become part of the City’s model. The City will retain ownership of the model and the Nestlé data incorporated into the model.

Does this change our process on commenting on water taking applications from water bottlers?

No. We will continue to comment on water taking permits that have the potential to impact our water supply whether from water bottlers or others.

Why did the City develop this model? Who owns the model?

The groundwater flow model was developed as part of the Guelph—Guelph/Eramosa Township Tier 3 Water Budget project under the technical requirements of the Clean Water Act. The model looks at how much water enters Guelph’s subwatershed, is stored, and leaves the subwatershed. The model provides a measured assessment of the current and future sustainability of Guelph’s drinking water system in light of expected growth and development, and climate change impacts such as drought. In short, the model helps determine the amount of water available for human uses, while making sure there is still enough left to keep rivers, streams and lakes healthy.

The City of Guelph was the technical lead for the development of the model while Guelph/Eramosa Township provided input to ensure the Township’s drinking water system was taken into account in the model. The Grand River Conservation Authority is the lead authority for the Source Protection Area that Guelph is part of, and provided project management and a peer review role. The development of the model was funded by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. The model is owned by the City.

More information on the Tier 3 Water Budget project.

How much is it costing the City to have this analysis done for Nestlé Waters Canada?

The City’s consultant is doing the analysis. Nestlé is paying the City for this work. The City is managing the contract with the consultant.