Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Why Are We Drinking Bottled Water? Wynne Wants Debate on Future of Industry

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Why Are We Drinking Bottled Water? Wynne Wants Debate on Future of Industry

Article excerpt

Wynne wants review of bottled water industry


TORONTO - Ontario plans to increase its charge for water-taking permits for bottled water companies in the new year, but Premier Kathleen Wynne says she wants a bigger discussion on the future of the entire industry.

The province charges $3.71 for every million litres of water taken, on top of a permit fee of $750 for low- or medium-risk water takings.

Wynne wants to see that charge increased, but said price won't be the only factor as the Liberal government considers new rules for bottled water companies.

"Absolutely that needs to go up, but the reason that we wanted a bit more time to look at this is, is that enough? Is it enough that the price just goes up?" she asked in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press.

"I really think we need to look at the culture around bottled water. Why are we all drinking water out of bottles when most of us don't need to?"

There are situations where bottled water is needed because of old pipes or other problems, said Wynne.

"But do all of us need to be using bottled water?" she asked. "I think we need to have a bigger look at the whole industry, and our role in regulating it."

Wellington Water Watchers, a group of environmentalists in the Guelph, Ont., area an hours' drive west of Toronto, agreed that increasing the price for permits for bottled water companies won't address concerns about water use.

"It's not just about increasing the price," said Water Watchers chair Mike Nagy. "No price would be high enough to stop some companies from doing what they're doing because the profits are so high."

The government should counter aggressive marketing by bottled water companies with public information campaigns about the safety of tap water, added Nagy.

"It's been about 20 years of solid marketing, making out as if this was a healthy product -- healthier than the sugar drinks that they also market -- and it's time that the government take back that voice," he said. "We believe the province has failed to educate the public that there is no lower environmental footprint and healthier thing to do than drink tap water and bring a reusable container with you. …

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