The above quote, attributed to Mark Twain, is self-evident. What doesn't appear to be self-evident is that the same applies to all the water that exists in the world. Water is not, as some seem to believe, a self-replenishing resource; it is merely one that gets shifted about, due to increasingly volatile storms, droughts, evaporation, etc. And yet the government of Ontario operates as if it were ignorant of these facts.
Consider its disdainful treatment of this precious resource.
In the middle of a severe drought in southern Ontario, the bottled water giant Nestle is buying up more groundwater sources and now has permits from the Ontario government to remove a total of over 20 million litres of water per day!To compound the ignominy of this flagrant commercialization of something that all citizens have a right to,
Ontario charges companies $3.71 for every million litres of water they extract- a total of less than $75 per day for their total permits of 20,000,000 litres of groundwater.That Nestle feels emboldened to continue with its depredations is not really the fault of the company. After all, it is doing what companies always do: maximizing its profits, consequences be damned. This imperative, of course, is made possible by the fact that governments do little to protect this resource, even in drought-stricken California.
And yet, as you will see in the following report from Global News, Nestle considers itself a responsible steward of the environment and a sterling corporate entity:
What bothers me about the above report is the insistence that, if governments charged more for the water, it could be classed as a commodity under NAFTA. While I am not a lawyer or trade specialist, my question would be that even in charging the paltry sums that governments currently do, isn't water already being treated as a commodity?
As well, despite the comparative statistic showing that Nestle only takes 1% of the water, its commercialization is distinct from the fact that almost all other permit holders in Ontario are municipalities drawing water for their citizens to drink. Hardly equivalent to what Nestle is doing.
In the best of all possible worlds, we could stop companies from taking our water by not purchasing their bottled water. Since that is never going to happen, the only thing concerned citizens (and we should all be concerned) can do is make their displeasure known to the provincial government. Kathleen Wynne already has her eye on the next election, and if this issue incites public discontent, as it well should, she is far less likely to take direction from our corporate overlords and start listening to those who ultimately hold her electoral fate in their hands.
UPDATE: Thanks to The Mound of Sound, who reminded me of this chilling message from the Chairman of Nestle: