As consumers, we expect that when we turn on the tap—whether for drinking, cooking or cleaning—the water will flow. At Nestlé Waters North America, we expect the same thing, which is why we work tirelessly to manage our shared water resources. Water is both our passion and our business, so we approach our jobs as stewards—with the mindset that we must work together to ensure the water we all depend on will be there today and tomorrow.
For over 15 years, more than 300 of us have been working in Wellington County, Ontario at the Aberfoyle water-bottling plant. Many of our team members live here, too, and we are all deeply invested in the long-term well-being of the environment and community.
Our approach to water stewardship
As part of this commitment, we have developed and applied the Nestlé Waters Water Stewardship Roadmap—to enhance our ability to protect our shared water resource and act as efficiently as possible while also creating shared value in the community.
Some key principles of this Roadmap include:
1. We use scientific data and standards to inform our decision-making and activities: We have more than 80 monitoring points at Aberfoyle that provide us with the data we need to make responsible decisions. We monitor groundwater levels hourly to closely track groundwater trends and publish this data on our website to help our stakeholders make informed decisions, too.
2. We select and manage spring sources as a sustainable resource: One of the reasons we chose Aberfoyle is that it is a renewable water supply–a source that is continuously recharged by natural systems. Our team of experts is dedicated to sustainable water resource management, which includes working alongside local agencies such as the Grand River Conservation Authority to ensure withdrawals do not exceed sustainable limits. For instance, we voluntarily reduced our maximum monthly permitted withdrawals by 20 per cent since a Level 2 drought was declared in the region.
3. We partner to solve shared water challenges: We create shared value through employment, local sourcing, volunteerism, sponsorships, partnerships, collective action, community investments and more. For example, we recently donated $460,000 to the University of Guelph to support groundwater research in Wellington County aimed at ensuring the continuation of a safe and sustainable groundwater system. We also support the Friends of Mill Creek Stewardship Rangers program, which undertakes fishery and stream rehabilitation works, and the Green Legacy Programme, which helps to expand forest cover on our Aberfoyle property. Both programs recruit local high school and middle school students to participate in conservation and rehabilitation efforts and learn more about the importance of preserving our environment.
Shared water management
As a long-standing member of the Wellington County community, we believe that for the local watershed to remain a sustainable supply, all groundwater users need to follow a water roadmap and financial resources must be set aside to fund the sustainability of the watershed. That is why we agree with the Premier and the Minister of the Environment & Climate Change that the existing price of $3.71 per million litres of water is insufficient. We look forward to collaborating with the government and other key stakeholders to determine the equitable cost for all water users to sustain our shared water resources for years to come.
Nelson Switzer is the chief sustainability officer at Nestlé Waters North America.
Wellington Water Watchers has also provided Water Canada with editorial on the issue. The article can be read here.
Water Canada has many more articles on the topic of bottled water that can be found here.