Nestlé's water taking could have 'financial impacts' on Guelph, says city report

A Guelph city staff report prepared ahead of a special council meeting Nov. 7 to discuss water taking permits says there is the potential water taking by Nestlé could affect Guelph financially in the future.

Staff report prepared ahead of special council meeting Nov. 7 on topic

Protesters gathered in Guelph, Ont., before a city council meeting on Sept. 26 to rally against Nestlé. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Nestlé Waters Canada's water bottling plant in Aberfoyle has the "potential" to affect Guelph financially in the future, a Guelph city staff report says.

The report was prepared ahead of a special city council meeting on November 7 on the topic of provincial permits to take water.

Staff wrote that a new water supply well is proposed for the southeast corner of the city to help meet future water demands.

"In the future, there is the potential for the Nestlé taking to constrain municipal water taking in the south end of Guelph, which may result [in] financial impacts as Guelph looks for other, potentially more remote and expensive water supply options," the staff report says.

"There are limits to the available groundwater to satisfy Guelph's future water supply needs," the report said. "As such, future renewals of industrial water takings in the area should be weighted against the broader needs of the community, the potential risk that available supply may not meet future demand and that the continued water takings may not be sustainable without proper management of the resource."

Currently, staff said Nestlé's operations do not negatively affect Guelph. But the report also says there is "a need to develop comprehensive water resource management plans to sustain and protect the city's water supply sources."

Long list of people to speak at Nov. 7 meeting

An agenda for the meeting is already on the city's website.

There are two staff presentations planned for the Nov. 7 meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., and a representative from the Grand River Conservation Authority is set to speak.

'There are limits to the available groundwater to satisfy Guelph's future water supply needs."- City of Guelph staff report on water taking permits

Nestlé will have two representatives speaking at the meeting: natural resource manager Andreanne Simard and Catherine O'Brien, the senior vice president of corporate affairs.

There will also be delegations from the advocacy group Wellington Water Watchers, the Canadian Beverage Association and the Canadian Bottled Water Association, along with 12 other individuals.

Six people have also sent in correspondence on the topic.

Water crisis coming

The topic came before council in September when Coun. James Gordon put forward a motion to have the city ask the province to stop Nestlé from operating in Aberfoyle.

There was a rally outside city hall on Sept. 26 supporting Gordon's motion where people held signs calling for a boycott of the company.

The issue is important to many members of Guelph, which is located 95 kilometres west of Toronto, but interest in protecting groundwater resources from bottled water companies is growing across the country, Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, told CBC News in September.

"Canada has a coming water crisis. People don't understand this, but they will in time. And we mustn't be letting our water be used this way," she said.

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