So I reached out to staff about a week ago and the following answers may bring a lot more clarity to this issue. Feel free to share:
1. Why doesn’t the City stop Nestlé from taking and bottling our water for profit?
Nestlé takes its water from its own well located in Aberfoyle outside the City of Guelph. The company’s water-taking activities are regulated by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change through the Province and not by the City of Guelph.
Although Nestlé’s water taking doesn’t impact the City’s municipal groundwater supply directly, the City supports that all local takers of this important resource exercise care and stewardship in their takings.
City staff and residents will have an opportunity to comment on Nestlé’s upcoming application to take water when it is posted on the Ontario Environmental Registry.
Since the Nestle permit is still in effect, Nestle can continue its water taking according to the terms and conditions of its permit. We understand that Nestle has voluntarily reduced its water taking by 20% in response to the GRCA Level 2 drought condition and will continue to operate at this reduced level until the drought condition is lifted.
2. How’s it possible that Nestlé’s water taking activities don’t directly impact Guelph’s water?
Nestlé’s water is taken from the Mill Creek subwatershed, which is “downstream” from the Speed River and Eramosa River subwatersheds—the source of the City’s water. Although these subwatersheds are all located in the Grand River watershed, the environmental effects from water taking activities in the Mill Creek subwatershed don’t extend to the Speed and Eramosa subwatersheds. At present, the Nestle water taking has no effect on the City of Guelph’s current water supply.
3. What are the City’s and the MOECC’s roles in Nestlé’s water taking activities?
The MOECC is responsible for reviewing Nestlé’s applications and issuing or renewing a permit to take water that is sustainable.
The City is a local stakeholder that can provide comment to the MOECC on water taking activities that take place in Puslinch Township.
4. How can water taking activities be sustainable?
Groundwater is a renewal resource. As long as water taking activities remove only a small fraction of the local recharge (i.e. the infiltration of rain and melted snow into the aquifer), the water taking is considered sustainable.
5. Why keep approving new houses and condos if we don’t have enough water?
Guelph is growing, and we expect that to continue. Each year, the City prepares a development priorities plan to manage growth in a balanced and sustainable way, and Guelph’s water supply is a key consideration when the City reviews proposed development applications. New development is only included in the development priorities plan if there is sufficient water supply capacity to support the growth. Policies in Guelph’s Official Plan restrict or prohibit development where municipal services, such as water, cannot meet capacity or are otherwise inadequate to service new development.
Advancements in technology also mean that new developments are built to higher water efficiency standards. Ontario Building Code standards improve as more efficient technologies become proven, and the City offers additional incentives for making new home developments even more water efficient through the Blue Built Home program.
6. What can I do, if I have concerns?
The provincial government provides growth targets for Guelph as part of overall growth planning for Ontario. Until September 30, the Province is accepting comments on the proposed growth plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The minimum gross density target proposed for Guelph is 150 residents and jobs combined per hectare by 2031. Search “Ontario Places to Grow” to learn more and to provide your comments.
7. How does conservation help sustain growth?
While population growth does increase overall water demands, conservation efforts and advancements in technology over the last decade have actually led to a decrease in water use per person. In fact, since 2006, Guelph’s population has increased by 12 per cent while average daily water use has gone down by 12 per cent!
8. Is the City going to do anything about businesses watering their lawns?
Yes. Our bylaw team is out enforcing Level 2 Red water restrictions. No lawn watering, no car washing. Watering flowers is allowed every other day 7-9 am/pm. Watering trees and food gardens is allowed anytime.
· Use the map app to report a violation
· Report a violation online
· Call 519-837-2529
9. Why pay to use a car wash when I use less water in my driveway?
Several studies show that coin and automatic car washes use LESS water than someone in their driveway. Plus, the runoff from your driveway goes straight into the river. Runoff from a car wash gets treated at the wastewater plant. At-home car washing is not permitted under level 2 red restrictions.
10. Why hasn’t the recent rainfall moved us out of Level 2 Red?
Rainfall, local river flows and water demands all influence the watering restriction level. Although the recent rainfall has slightly improved conditions, we need about a month’s worth of rain to get out of Level 2 Red.
The Grand River Conservation Authority and the Low Water Response Team are also asking people in the watershed to reduce water consumption by 10 to 20 per cent because of continued dry conditions in the area.
Our latest conditions report is available on our Outside Water Use webpage available through guelph.ca/water.