Over the past two decades, major bottled water companies have promoted their product in our schools. Meanwhile, public water supply infrastructure has been neglected and drinking water fountains continue to disappear.
In Canada, with over 100 Indigenous communities who do not have access to clean drinking water, the privatization of water is a scam as a quarter of bottled water is just tap water in new packaging. Students are fighting to reverse this wasteful trend.
Conclusion ... or so we thought!
As a result of our campaigning efforts, on December 5th, 2018 Hospitality Services responded to TAP IN! announcing that the Naya contract is to expire in August of 2021, and would not renewed in the future. ... What they did not tell us was that they were looking into "green" water bottles; water bottles made from recycled plastic. Unfortuantely this did not solve the problem of marketting a human need - water - as a commodity. So the fight continues.
TapIn! was a campaign by the Central Student Association with the ultimate goal of removing bottled water from the University of Guelph campus, while increasing access to tap water.
Although this campaign began in the Summer of 2011, students have been advocating for years to remove bottled water from different spaces across campus. Groups on campus, such as Guelph Students for Environmental Change (GSEC) and its working group, “Tap In!” have played a tremendous role in creating awareness around water conservation and access to water. In 2010, Tap In! put forward a referendum question asking students whether or not they wanted to remove bottled water from the Bullring (a service brought to you by your Central Student Association); the overwhelming majority of students voted in favour of the question. As a result, except for carbonated water, the Bullring is now bottled water free!
In 2023 the fight continues. The University resumed the sale of bottled water in the form of "green" water Ice River. The brand itself was never what was in question.
Water is a limited resource and what this campaign aims to bring attention to is the future of our global renewable water.
Bottled water companies are often criminally undercharged for the water they take from aquifers on public land. In 2016, the Province of Ontario only charged bottled water companies $3.71 per million litres of water. According to CBC, "The issue is especially crucial to Guelph, which is the largest city in Canada that relies solely on groundwater for its water supply. The water being taken in Aberfoyle is from the same aquifer that feeds Guelph's supply."
If water continues to be privatized and sold, it will eventually cause a serious division among the population of those who can afford access to publicly cleaned water, or private bottled stock, and those who cannot.
We’re already seeing something of this sort with boil water advisories in Canada. Some of the poorest communities do not have access to publically funded water decontamination facilities, or access to a renewable water source and are forced to boil the water they use for cleaning and drinking. (Defunct Mayhem, 2020)
A positive outcome, and one that we hope to see within our lifetimes is the de-privatization of water. A return of all watershed aquifers to public spheres and the legal decommodification of water as a resource.
The fight starts at home. Embracing the "think global, act local" metality, students at the University of Guelph have demanded that the institution stop the sale of bottled water. Tap in with us!