Another Cost of Bottled Water: Environmental Injustice and Inequity

We've known for a long time that bottled water costs far more than safe, reliable, municipal tap water systems, with those costs falling on individuals, communities, and the environment. But there is new and growing evidence that the failure to provide safe drinking water, or the fear (or reality) of contamination in tap water that forces people to buy bottled water, imposes special financial burdens on poor and minority communities. Three new lines of evidence support these conclusions:

Water Grabs Accompany Huge Land Grabs

Earlier this week the California based Oakland Institute released a series of in-depth reports that uncover how large scale investments in land in Africa are resulting in food insecurity, the displacement of small farmers, conflict, environmental devastation, water loss, and the further impoverishment and political instability of African nations.

Polaris Institute Executive Director Tony Clarke, who is a member of the Oakland Institute's board of directors, prepared a statement for the launch of the special investigation that uncovers the massive water takings that accompany these troublesome land grabs in Africa.

Visit the Oakland Institute's website to find out more about land grabs in Africa:

Statement by Tony Clarke:

Water Grabs Accompany Huge Land Grabs

Government of Manitoba to Stop Buying Bottled Water

For Immediate Release

June 8th 2011 - Yesterday, the government of Manitoba announced that its offices and departments would not be allowed to spend money on single-use bottled water where tap water is readily accessible. Over the last five years, the government had spent an estimated 700,000$ on purchasing bottled water. With this newest initiative in the nation-wide push-back against the bottled water industry, Manitoba becomes the 2nd province to implement a similar policy, following in the footsteps of Nova Scotia.

Challenging the CEO Water Mandate

May 18, 2011 - Corporate Accountability International (CAI), one of the Polaris Institute's main allies in its struggle to confront the coporate control of water, delivered a letter today signed by over 100 global civil society organizations to the Director General of the World Health Organization. The letter urges the Director General to encourage UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon to address widespread concerns about corporate conflicts of interest regarding global water governance, health and nutrition policy. The letter also asks Ban Ki Moon to withdraw the UN’s support for the corporate-driven CEO Water Mandate.

See CAI's press release below and read the letter here

Global Civil Society Groups call on WHO, UN to protect water and reject corporate conflicts of interest

Report exposes risks of privatization of Canadian municipal water services

CUPE-Quebec and Eau Secours! produced a report and recommendations on the implications of the Canadian - European Union Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations on water.

The report explains and speaks against the inclusion of public services markets, including municipal water services in the negotiations. Lobbying from large European corporations, including large water services companies, seems to have played a role in putting these public services on the agenda for the CETA talks that are slated to come to a close by the end of the year. We must not let this pass.

This report also refers to a 2010 Council of Canadians and CUPE report on how CETA opens up our water services to privatization to the detriment of the citizens. You can read it here.

Polaris Institute protests Canadian mining company

New Gold is Risky Business: Opposition to Mexican Mine Heard at AGM

May 4, 2011 - (Toronto, Canada) Images and testimonials will alert New Gold shareholders at today’s annual meeting about the ongoing opposition to the company’s mine in Cerro San Pedro Mexico.

“We want to send a clear message to shareholders,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “Opposition to the Cerro de San Pedro mine isn’t going away and that means investing in New Gold is risky business.”

Harden-Donahue was part of a Canadian delegation heading to the UN climate talks in Cancun last December that visited the small village of Cerro de San Pedro, located directly beside the mine. Delegates met and heard testimonies from local populations opposed to the mine, who are gravely concerned with the impact on the historic village, water supplies, health and the surrounding environment.

City of Toronto Maintains Bottled Water Ban

In the face of intense lobbying from the bottled water industry, Toronto City Council voted down a motion on Wednesday night that would have overturned the city's 2008 bottled water ban. Wednesday's events show that Canadian municipalities are not giving in to industry pressure led by Nestlé to rescind good public policy. Toronto is the biggest city in the world to have banned bottled water and now joins the City of London (Ont) in rejecting industry pleas to reverse bottled water bans.

Bid to lift ban on bottled water goes down drain

Don Peat, Toronto Sun, April 13, 2011 - A bid to ban Toronto’s ban on bottled water was washed away Wednesday.

Polaris Institute Statement: Concordia University is Canada’s newest bottled water free campus

April 8, 2011 - The Polaris Institute congratulates the Concordia University administration for taking this important step towards a more sustainable and just campus. A special applause goes to the students who organized the successful TAPthirst campaign that was instrumental in this incredible outcome.

By phasing out the sale of bottled water from vending machines on the Loyola and Sir George Williams campuses and by committing to upgrade drinking fountains to accommodate reusable drink containers, Concordia University is making a serious commitment to responsible environmental practices.

Since when is bottled water a threat to the Prime Minister?

The Council of Canadians and the Polaris Institute are shocked that, according to media reports, a Guelph University student was denied entrance to a Stephen Harper campaign event because she opposed the sale of bottled water on her university campus.

While this is another egregious example of the Conservative party’s draconian efforts to exclude Canadians from its political rallies, in this case Conservative party officials appear to have blocked a university student for simply trying to create a more sustainable campus by promoting public tap water.

“How could the Conservatives think this is acceptable?” asked Brent Patterson, Director of Campaigns at the Council of Canadians.

Video Game Makes Tar Sands an Election Issue

OTTAWA, March 29 /CNW/ - Today the Polaris Institute re-launched TarNation a popular political video game aimed at highlighting Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff's unwillingness to take action on the environmentally destructive tar sands. Players spray oil at Conservative and Liberal party leaders to get them out of the tar sands.

"Harper and Ignatieff need the most encouragement to help Canada shift away from dirty oil and towards a more sustainable green economy" Says Tony Clarke, Executive Director of the Polaris Institute.

Play game:

For further information:
Contact: Richard Girard, 613 237-1717 105
Richard (at)