So, About Nestle & #Guelph Water…

I’ve had a lot of questions as of late regarding Nestle and our low levels of water in Guelph currently. The questions have spiked again with the purchase of another well in Elora recently.

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


16 responses to “So, About Nestle & #Guelph Water…”

  1. […] thinks of the situation personally. His mayor’s blog has had two posts on the subject, one that was a FAQ answering common queries about water taking and conservation, and the other […]

  2. Donna McCaw Avatar

    I completely agree. Also Guelph is not upstream from the Middlebrook property that Nestle just purchased. Mayor Guthrie I suggest you do some research to find out about the difference between a watershed and an aquifer. You may want to find the groundwater sources of Guelph’s water…Goat Island or Gasport aquifers? Where do they come from and who else is taking water from them including Nestle!

  3. Amie Presley Avatar
    Amie Presley

    I am disappointment with the cities lackadaisical view towards Nestle. Nestle’s water extraction will impact Guelph at some point – no matter if we draw from ‘upstream’. There is a bigger discussion here. The commodification of water. If individuals are interested, check out the event on September 22:

  4. Barry Avatar

    Cam: That is twice you say email me to those who ask questions and that you’ll have staff investigate. Do you think maybe some citizens want proof such as a study that is posted? I think with how recently some past staff have not given a credible answers to Council in many situations (wet dry fiasco and Michigan contact are perfect examples) that many people are sceptical of just answers to questions without proof to back up those answers.

  5. Mike Foley Avatar
    Mike Foley

    I feel that present growth although determined by the province could be unsustainable in the near future with respect to water availability . I also know that aquifers migrate and that by creating a vacuum effect downstream there is a distinct possibility of drainage . Without a proper amount of recharge our aquifer s will deplete. Mr mayor when did Guelph complete the latest hydrological study and what were the results based on a denser community. I have great great concerns about Nestle draining water during a drought and I feel the city should take a harder line in demanding the province take action that puts the future of Guelph residents and tomorrow s stake holders first

    1. Cam Guthrie Avatar
      Cam Guthrie

      Hi Mike, please email me and I’d be happy to have staff look into your question it’s a valid one!

  6. samtmac Avatar

    I would absolutely love a copy of any study that shows car washes use less water than someone washing their car in their driveway. That is seriously one of the funniest things I have read in a long time. For the very few times I ever wash my car in the driveway I must surely be doing it wrong!

    1. Cam Guthrie Avatar
      Cam Guthrie

      Email me: & I’ll ask staff to respond.

  7. Kevin Lowry Avatar
    Kevin Lowry

    Thanks for the clarification. I feel we need as individuals need to wash our cars less, waster our weeds less, wash our hair and bodies only when needed, when yellow let mellow, and restrain from buying small plastic bottles full if water. Fill your own reusable bottles and rain collectors.
    If we are good stewards of God’s resources, He will continue to provide!

  8. W.Tovell Avatar

    Thanks for clearing this up…I appreciate being able to ask questions and have them answered or at least looked into.I no longer live in the city ,but my mother is still there.

  9. Ian Avatar

    So when Mill Creek runs low from Nestles taking and it needs to reload it doesn’t affect the levels behind but good story

  10. Donna McCaw Avatar
    Donna McCaw

    Water is only partially renewable. Research on aquifers says that they are renewable up to 6 per cent every 50 years. The biggest risks are pollution and over extraction. We all need to conserve and do away with commercial water bottling that removes water from the watershed.

  11. A. Traves Avatar
    A. Traves

    Mike thank you for the info but Cam did not mention the 100 people plus those they hire from our area who pay taxes CPP EI contributions. I think they should pay directly to the community not the government . ( who as we all know use OUR yes OUR monies so indiscriminately)

  12. Barry Smith Avatar
    Barry Smith

    Agree with Mike that at least you finally updated the Guelph residents with some important information. My concerns are still against car washes regardless of were the water goes especially in a Level 2 situation or Code Red in Guelph. I do disagree with staff on groundwater being sustainable as it depends on rain and snow melt and the way winters and summers have been going will it be sustainable with the proposed growth of Guelph. Also take a look at any of the GRCA reservoirs and just think how low the rivers really would be without them. Guelph reservoir and those of the upper Grand and Conestogo are way below average for this time of year in spite of the recent rains which I might add were very sporadic over the watersheds. Water conservation in my mind is just as important as our efforts in recycling.

  13. Elizabeth Martin Avatar
    Elizabeth Martin

    Unfortunately, the watertaking by Nestle does affect the rest of the communities downstream along the Grand River watershed, even with their ” voluntary” reduction in watertaking. But I am guessing that there is little concern for any community ” upstream” as long as their interests are protected.

  14. Mike d Avatar
    Mike d

    Thanks. Good information. Clears up a lot of mis – information.

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