Nestlé water-taking permit and Guelph’s water supply

Nestlé has its own well in Aberfoyle, outside the City of Guelph

The company’s water-taking activities are regulated by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Nestlé’s water taking doesn’t impact Guelph’s groundwater supply directly, and we encourage all water users to exercise care and stewardship.

Guelph gets its water from the Speed River and Eramosa River subwatersheds. Further downstream, Nestlé takes water the Mill Creek subwatershed. They’re all located in the Grand River watershed, but the environmental effects taking water from Mill Creek watershed don’t currently extend to the Speed and Eramosa subwatersheds.

The City uses about 45 million litres per day. In 2015, Nestlé used about 2.1 million litres per day and their permit allows them to take up to 3.6 million litres per day.

Municipalities don’t have to pay the province to use water, we do pay an application fee for new permits and for permit renewals.

Community stakeholders, including the City of Guelph, can comment on Nestlé’s application to take water when they are posted on the Ontario Environmental Registry.

In addition to promoting water protection and conservation, Guelph encourages people to use refillable water bottles to reduce the environmental impact of single-use plastic bottles. The Guelph Water Wagon is available for special events; City buildings and parks offer water fountains and refilling stations; some City vending machines offer refillable water bottles for the same price as other beverages, while others offer a selection of several beverages including bottled water.

Guelph responds to provincial water-taking review and Nestlé’s application

City of Guelph preliminary position on Nestlé’s application to renew its permit to take water

We have reviewed existing, public information to inform our preliminary position on Nestlé’s application to renew its permit to take water. Our position is considered preliminary as the application is not yet publicly available.

Here is a summary of Nestlé’s key facts:

  • Water levels in the aquifer, the water source of Nestlé’s Aberfoyle-based well, are stable
  • Nestlé’s water-taking has not caused a decline or drop in water levels year after year
  • There are no negative impacts to the aquifer
  • Water-taking at the current rate is sustainable at this point in time

Overall, we are not opposed to the renewal of the permit for a five-year period, as it does not interfere with our current water takings. However, we are concerned about the availability of water supply in the area to satisfy future community growth. This position is consistent with the City’s previous opinion of Nestlé’s 2007 application, and renewal application in 2011.

We will likely again ask the Ministry not to increase the permit beyond its current approved rate, and consider the water needs of the greater community and the constraints of the natural ecosystem to provide sustainable drinking water supplies.

City of Guelph submissions to the provincial environmental registry

We filed our submission on November 30, 2016 to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks in support of the proposed two-year moratorium on new water-taking permits and renewals for water bottling purposes. Our submission included recommended considerations and changes to Ontario’s water-taking regulations. Read the complete, Council-approved submission to the MOECP’s environmental registry 012-8783 (November 30, 2016).

Since then, we continue to submit comments on each new, related topic posted to the environmental registry:

Interim procedural and technical guidance for bottled water renewals

The Ministry released the Interim Procedural and Technical Guidance Document for Bottled Water Renewals: Permit to Take Water Applications and Hydrogeological Study Requirements on the Ontario Environmental Registry on April 21, 2017.

This provides new procedures and technical requirements for water bottling applicants renewing existing permits to take groundwater. Although the Ministry has not extended opportunities for public comment, the document is consistent with our previous comments on the requirements for water bottling applicants:

  • additional consultation for applicants renewing permits to take water
  • a stronger science-based process to evaluate proposed water taking impacts that include source water protection technical models, which prioritize future municipal growth and the associated water demands
  • more transparent information sharing online, including weekly water monitoring data for public reference
  • reducing the maximum term to five years for a permit-to-take-water
  • higher administration fees to adequately fund the Ministry’s oversight

For more information

Water Services
519-822-1260 extension 5627
[email protected]