- Published on Friday, 17 March 2017 05:15
- Written by editor
Together we're holding back Nestlé's water grab in Michigan.
Now it's time to turn our attention to Canada, where the B.C. government is backing away from a promise to review water rates. Tell the B.C. Premier to protect groundwater now!
We have an exciting update to share with you.
Together with more than 375,000 SumOfUs members and our friends at Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, we’re going to hold back Nestlé's plan to suck up millions of gallons of groundwater.
The Michigan water authorities just scheduled a public hearing on Nestlé’s proposal in Osceola county and asked the bottled water giant to submit a rigorous environmental review.
This hard-fought step forward is another reminder that as hard as Nestlé tries to bully local communities, it’s no match for us when we stand together.
Michigan isn't the only place we've held Nestlé back -- together with the tireless work of grassroots groups, we’ve stopped plans to plunder water sources for private profit in Ontario, Canada, Hood River, Oregon and British Columbia, Canada.
Now we need to turn our attention back to British Columbia.
Last year, after 225,000 people spoke out, the B.C. Premier agreed to review water rates for industrial users. Right now, companies like Nestlé pay just $2.25 to take a million litres of groundwater -- and they're allowed to withdraw unlimited amounts of precious water to sell at a huge profit.
A year later and Premier Clark is quietly backing away from her promises.
With less than two months until the next B.C. election, she's already under intense scrutiny -- let's turn up the pressure and force her to keep her word. Can you share this campaign with your friends?
Thanks for standing together to protect precious fresh water,
Angus, Liz and the SumOfUs team
Activists deliver 345,000-signature petition against Nestlé to Capitol, Detroit Metro Times, 28 Feb 2017
B.C. to review rates charged to bottled water companies after Nestlé backlash, Vancouver Sun, 14 July, 2015
Our last BC water campaign update from July 2015:
Great news! After 225,000 of us spoke out against the mismanagement of the precious water we all rely on, BC will revisit water rates for industrial users, including bottling companies like Nestlé! This is a major milestone towards protecting the precious shared water so vital to the ecology, economy and quality of life in BC.
On top of being our biggest Canadian petition ever, this campaign has kick-started a national conversation. From news anchors to social media, it seems like everyone’s been talking about water.
We wanted to take a few minutes here to answer the questions we’ve been hearing most often about this campaign.
Q. Why is this victory important?
This commitment, which we secured together with our allies at WaterWealth and others who have been tirelessly fighting for better water legislation, is one step towards protecting freshwater for the public benefit.
Asking for a review of water rates can seems like a small victory when there’s so much big work to be done -- for instance, we need to stop companies like Nestlé from profiting from our groundwater altogether. But it’s an incredibly crucial step. Right now, there’s a lot we don’t know about water in BC. We need the resources to do that, which is why we’ve been calling for higher water rates.
Only when we know more about our shared water reserves can we stop irresponsible industrial use for private profit.
Q. Will raising the rates risk commodification of water under NAFTA?
In short, no it won’t -- which is good news. Water is not a commodity and should never be for sale.
Right now companies like Nestle get privileged access to this water. Not only can they take unlimited amounts of groundwater for free, the government doesn’t even charge administrative fees that can actually support real stewardship of freshwater resources. Our petition used the word "price" because that's how the BC government talks about water rental rates, and that’s the first piece of the change we are fighting for.
It’s misleading to suggest that raising the water rates in BC would have any impact on how NAFTA is applied. Right now, provinces across Canada charge water rates up to $140 per million litres of water accessed, compared to just $2.25 in BC. BC is the very last province in the country to start regulating groundwater, and we are calling on the BC government to step it up. And we cannot let them off the hook.
"Raising water volume rents under the new legislation is timely, and will not affect the status of groundwater under NAFTA.” - Deborah Curran, University of Victoria Faculty of Law Professor.
Q. What’s next for this campaign?
First and foremost, we need to hold the BC government to its word -- we need to make sure that water rates are reviewed quickly, and that they’re high enough to support really strong water stewardship. On Wednesday, we delivered a 40-lb stack of petition signatures to Minister Polak’s office to reminder her that we won’t be backing off until she follows through on her commitment.
Next, we’ll keep working to make sure precious fresh water reserves are managed responsibly, and not for the benefit of private interests. That’s why we’re fighting to stop Nestlé’s bottled water operations in California and to prevent new bottling operations in Oregon. Here in BC, we’ll keep fighting to limit groundwater licenses altogether for bottling companies like Nestlé and other corporate freeloaders too.
Thank you to all 225,000 of you who joined with us - people power works!
Angus, Liz, Emma and Rosa, your Canadian SumOfUs team
P.S. Have you watched our awesome video yet? Check it out!
SumOfUs is a community of people from around the world committed to curbing the growing power of corporations. We want to buy from, work for and invest in companies that respect the environment, treat their workers well and respect democracy. And we’re not afraid to stand up to them when they don’t.
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