Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Value of Water

Image result for aberfoyle nestle water war

Quinte Conservation has been reminding area residents that despite some significant rainfall on two days last week there is still a Level 3 Low Water Condition notice for the region. Basically, while my lawn may be green again, and our water barrels were replenished, water levels are not sufficient for the demand. While we are on Belleville city water, drawn from the bay rather than wells and rivers, we have been mindful about water use and redeployment. We use a dishpan so that we can water plants with the grey water and our dehumidifier nourishes the plants as well. And we don't flush as often --nuff said!

The last two days I've listened to reports out of Aberfoyle where a Nestle water bottling plant draws 3.6 million litres of water a day from the aquifer despite the drought conditions in the surrounding area. Nestle pays about $3.75 per million litres to extract the water, which amounts to less than $15 a day, by my math. Does anyone else think this is insane?

I do everything I can to avoid bottled water, and when I'm offered a bottle I often comment that it is against my religion. While I say it with a smile, the person offering it often looks puzzled and sometimes offended. Yet I'm telling the truth, to a degree. Water is a precious gift from the Creator and this insanity of bottling a resource readily available to most Canadians from the tap is a sin, from my perspective. Of course many Native communities would disagree but that's a different story.

When I heard a Nestle's rep speaking as though they provide an important community service with what is really a garbage-producing scam I found myself getting angry. This is about making money from what is a non-replenishable resource in many instances. A lot of aquifers are closed systems, or recharge over millennia. When the water is gone, it's gone.

When I began my ministry in Newfoundland the United Church participated in a boycott of Nestle because it promoted the use of their baby formula in developing nations, with reps actually insinuating that their product was superior to mothers' milk. That boycott was somewhat successful, although we discovered that Nestle was still selling under other brand names, which they owned.

The United Church has already chosen not to supply bottled water at its events and encouraged congregations and individuals to do the same. I wonder if we should be more intentional, not targeting one particular company, since their name is legion, but challenging the industry and those who sell bottled water.  We can certainly encourage our membership not to buy bottled water and perhaps we need to be supporting community organizations which are drawing attention to our irresponsible use of water, including essentially giving it away to corporate interests. In the name of Christ, who is Living Water, wouldn't this make sense?



Frank said...

This issue goes to the essence of water itself, regardless of whether it's surface or sub-surface groundwater.
The corporate perspective would have us view water as just another commodity, subject to profitable enterprise. Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians would have us view water as a "human right", essential for life itself. This is the essence of water justice.
We've been blessed with ample supplies in the past. This might not persist. A local level 3 low water advisory brings this home. The Ontario government really needs to give its head a serious shake over its lousy resource management policies.

roger said...

Seeing bottled water almost gives me the same feeling as hearing nails on a chalkboard. Then seeing those same water bottles in a garbage bin as opposed to a blue bin......don't get me started.

The problem is that we are spoiled. Many people just take water for granted, and don't care about being reckless in their use of it. My neighbour is a perfect example - often watering her yard WHILE it's raining. She is also the only one in the neighbourhood whose grass is green in July. She is watering every day without fail!

I love my rain barrels and when they were bone-dry a few weeks ago, I just stopped watering my vegetable garden altogether. Everything survived fine for the week or two until my barrels were filled up again.