The bottled water-free movement is sweeping the nation, and the University of Guelph is way behind the pack. Bottled water-free efforts on campus have been ongoing since 2007. We need your voices to keep pushing Administration for the change we need. Join TapIn! to raise awareness about water privatization and environmental sustainability. Mobilize for more water fountains on campus, and "TapIn!" to our strongest campaign yet!
TapIn! is a campaign of 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, “TapIn!” have played a tremendous role in creating awareness around water conservation and access to water. In 2010, TapIn! 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!
Students on this campus have shown that together, we can accomplish anything. Fourteen (14) campuses across Canada are either bottled water free or have begun a phasing out process for bottled water. Campuses across Canada are taking back the tap; it’s our turn!
Timeline of Negotiations
Referendum vote (78% in favour of discontinuing the sale of bottled water on campus). Meetings continued with some support expressed by the administration.
October 15, 2012
The CSA partnered with Council of Canadians and Wellington Water Watchers to screen the documentary Tapped & had Maude Barlow speak on campus. This event was in response to the City of Guelph cancelling a screening of the film following a letter being sent to the Mayor by Nestle.
November 8, 2012
The CSA met with Administration and presented a draft pledge, including a commitment to discontinue the use of bottled water on campus.
December 12, 2013
Administration presented a response to the CSA in the form of a plan, which included efforts to increase tap water access on campus, but failed to include a commitment to end the sale of bottled water on campus. Meetings at this time were the first where Administration told us that they would not uphold the results of the referendum.
Early January 2013
Received the Coke & Naya contracts we requested in the interdepartmental mail from Hospitality Services. Information was blacked out in both contracts, including the minimum sale number required by the contract (a significant detail because it indicates that a phase-out is possible). We requested copies that were not blacked out and were told no, despite the fact that the CSA had been provided with a copy of the previous coke contract without blacked out information previously by Hospitality Services.
We had also requested reasoning as to why Nestle water is sold on campus when they no longer had a contract with Nestle because they switched to Naya. The letter stated that Nestle is being sold because it is the local, sustainable option and that the University of Guelph has a long-standing relationship with Nestle.
February 7, 2013
The CSA held an action day in the UC Courtyard and delivered a response to Administration’s proposed plan with questions & a reassertion of our demands. Our action day also coincided with Justin Trudeau’s visit to campus. He signed a campaign card saying he supported a bottled water free campus due to waste.
Another meeting followed: Campaign cards presented to Administration signed by students, staff and faculty and successfully challenged a number of arguments they used previously.
March 14, 2013
Administration sent their final response to the CSA stating that they would not end the sale of bottled water on campus. The only reason provided was freedom of choice.
Feb 2015: Future Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau supported the Tap In! campaign
Below are facts regarding bottled water; emphasis on sustainability:
- 17 million barrels of oil are used in the production of water bottles annually. This is enough to fuel 1 million cars for a year
- It takes 3x the amount of water to produce one single-use plastic bottle
- Approximately 1 in 5 water bottles are recycled; the rest contribute to the 3 billion pounds of waste from plastic water bottles.
- Tar sands operations use and destroy a great amount of water. Four Billion litres of contaminated water is released into the surrounding areas (Canadians.org)
- Bottled water is 2000 times more energy intensive than tap water. For example, approximately 3.4 megajoules to manufacture the packaging, bottle and cap a one-litre plastic bottle (pacific institute)
- According to one report, 235 086 tons of plastic bottles were generated and approximately 84 744 tons were recovered and recycled in 2002. (bottledwaterfreeday.ca)
- 99% of lakes and rivers in Canada are not protected by the Navigation Protection Act.
Below are facts regarding bottled water; emphasis on water as a human right:
- In 2017, 127 First Nations communities in Canada were and are currently under “boiled water advisories” and 21 communities are deemed to be at high-risk for contamination. In Canada, contamination and inadequate water and sanitation services in First Nations communities are a real and present threat to human health and the environment. (Canadians.org)
- Federal funding has been inadequate in addressing the communities’ urgent, immediate drinking water and wastewater treatment needs (Canadians.org)
- Private water companies are aggressively pursuing new “markets” in First Nations communities. Meanwhile, the federal government sees privatization as a quick fix for water crises in First Nations communities and is therefore keen to facilitate public-private partnerships (Canadians.org)
- Nearly 2 billion people live in water-stressed areas of the world and 3 billion have no running water within a kilometre of their homes. Every eight seconds a child dies of water-borne disease-deaths that would be easily preventable with access to clean, safe water (Canadians.org)
- The Canadian government has consistently opposed the right to water and sanitisation at the UN. In 2002, the Chretien government was alone out of 53 member states to vote against a resolution calling for access to clean water and sanitation to be recognized as a human right (alongside food and shelter) at a meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights. The Harper government followed suit in 2006 and 2008 (Canadians.org).
- 96 per cent of Canadians believe the right to water should be guaranteed to all as a human right (Canadians.org)
- Access to safe, public, drinking water is still an issue in many communities across Canada. The government should be investing in our public water systems, not relying on bottled water as a substitution (ex. Walkerton Ecoli Tragedy)
Below are facts regarding bottled water; emphasis on the economics, corporatization, and manufactured demand of bottled water.
- The concept of bottled water is a manufactured demand; in other words, the perceived need to buy bottled water has been carefully created by corporations to create a profit.
- The price of bottled water is up to 10 000 times the cost of tap water (tap water costs $0.0015/gal and bottled water costs $10/gal). (onlineeducation.net)
- Approximately 53 billion gallons of bottled water are consumed globally (annually). This generates approximately $61 billion dollars for corporations. (onlineeducation.net)
- Over 25% of bottled water sold in Canada is packaged tap water (bottledwaterfreeday.ca)
- In Canada, the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations do not require bottled water operators to have a license to start bottling water commercially (some provinces or territories may have regulations or guidelines)
- 2006 Statistics Canada- 3 in 10 households consumed bottled water (ppl in high-income homes drank more than low-income homes) – Likelihood of bottled water consumption drops 25% with individuals who have obtained some form of University education.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q 1: What is TapIn! ?
A: It is a campaign run by the CSA to end the sale of bottled water on campus as well to promote more and better access to tap water on campus and in our communities.
Q 2. Where does Guelph’s drinking water come from?
A. Groundwater! Guelph is one of the largest communities in Canada that is totally dependent on groundwater for our drinking water supply. Our water is sourced from a network of 21 wells located in and around the City, with the majority coming from an area called the Arkell Spring Grounds.
Located a few kilometres southeast of the City, the Arkell Spring Grounds are nestled in a forested piece of land alongside the Eramosa River that is owned by the City for the sole purpose of protecting our drinking water. These wells provide a good supply of high quality drinking water year-round.
We draw our groundwater from the Guelph-Amabel Aquifer (an aquifer is a geological formation that contains water), which is situated 150–300 feet below us in a limestone/dolomite bedrock formation that extends in a wide band across Southern Ontario from the Bruce Peninsula to Niagara Falls. This bedrock formation is a good aquifer because it has large open spaces and cracks in some of the layers of rock, which means that it can hold enough water to supply a municipality like Guelph.
Q 3. What is groundwater - and is it good to drink?
A. Groundwater is water that is found beneath the ground surface. It is derived from rain and snow that lands on the surface and then slowly infiltrates down into the open spaces and cracks of the soil and rock. Groundwater is contained in the pore spaces in the silt, sand, gravel and bedrock below the surface. Geological formations that contain abundant groundwater are called aquifers.
In Guelph, our wells extend through the overburden deposits (silt, sand and gravel) and into the deep bedrock to draw our drinking water. Because it has been naturally and slowly filtered by the sand, gravel and rock in the ground before being stored deep in the aquifer, where it is protected from contamination, our groundwater is of very high quality.
Q 4. How is Guelph’s drinking water treated?
A. Because our groundwater supply is protected and filtered naturally through an aquifer, it is of excellent initial quality, even before treatment. This means that we don’t need to treat our water as intensively as many other cities that rely on surface water. However as additional protection, Guelph uses a two-stage water treatment process; our water is treated with both ultraviolet technology and chlorine to ensure the safety of the water as it travels from the source to your tap.
Q 5. How often is our drinking water tested?
A. In Guelph, drinking water undergoes more than 20,000 health-related tests each year to ensure it meets the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards. That works out to over 54 tests each day! Guelph residents can take pride in their drinking water—it continually meets or exceeds these drinking water quality standards.
Q 6. How much do we pay for water?
A. As of January 1, 201, the water/wastewater rate in Guelph is $3.56 per cubic meter (or 1,000 litres). This covers the cost of pumping, treating and distributing our drinking water ($1.72/m3), as well as the cost of collecting and treating the wastewater that we produce ($1.84/m3).
In other words, it costs just cents to fill a 500 ml bottle of clean, safe drinking water from your tap! You could fill this same water bottle 7 times for just one cent. And if you fill up at a public fountain, it’s free!
Q 7. Why is tap water the environmentally-friendly choice?
A. Drinking tap water out of a refillable bottle reduces the amount of plastic that ends up in the landfill. In fact, studies have shown that 90% of plastic bottles end up as garbage – not recycled. As well, not all plastics can be recycled.
Manufacturing plastic is also a messy process. Most single-serve water bottles are made of PET plastic, which generates 100 times the toxic emissions than an equivalent amount of glass.
Finally, most bottled water is shipped long distances before it is consumed. Companies like Nestle pump water from several wells and transport that water to the bottling plant in Aberfoyle. Transporting heavy bottles filled with water emits large quantities of greenhouse gases and contributes to climate change and smog. Tap water is produced and consumed locally – and everyone knows that local is better!
Q 8. Where can I fill up my reusable water bottle in Guelph?
A. Finding local restaurants, City facilities and businesses that will refill your water bottle with tap water for free is easy, thanks to the Blue W program.
The Blue W program is a not-for-profit initiative, supported by the City of Guelph, which offers an online directory, Google map and downloadable Smartphone application to help you find free tap water in the city when you’re out and about. Visit www.bluew.org to learn more.
Q 9. Where can I find more information on Guelph’s drinking water?
A. The City of Guelph Water Services division is proud of and committed to providing consumers with a safe, consistent supply of high-quality drinking water.
Please feel free to contact Guelph Water Services with any questions you might have about our city’s drinking water at 519-837-5627 or email@example.com, or visit https://guelph.ca/living/environment/water/ for more information.
Bottled Water Free Spaces
- University of Winnipeg (2009)
- Memorial University (2009)
- Brandon University (2009)
- Ryerson University (2010)
- Fleming College Frost Campus (2010)
- University of Ottawa (2010)
- Trent University (2010)
- Bishop’s University (2010)
- College Universitaire de Saint-Boniface (2010)
- Queens University (2011)
- University of King’s College (Nova Scotia) (2011)
- Concordia University (2011)
- University of Toronto (2011) (includes all three campuses)
- Vancouver Island University (2011)
- In April 2007, Charlottetown voted to ban bottled water at council meetings.
- In May 2008, Nelson, B.C., outlawed the sale of bottled water at in city-owned buildings.
- Waterloo Region banned the sale of plastic bottles in its school starting in 2009.
- In June 2008, St. John’s city council voted to ban bottled water at city hall.
- In August 2008, London, Ontario voted to ban bottled water in city offices, parks and other recreational facilities.
Interested in getting more involved? There are plenty of ways to get involved with TapIn!
- Organizing Committees - Join to get involved with event planning, lobbying, action organizing and more! *No experience necessary.
- Sign up for our Monthly Updates Listserv - Hear about what’s going with the campaign & about upcoming events!
- Attend our Events
- Spread the Word - Chat with us when you see us tabling, wear button & pick-up some of our materials to share with others.
- TapIn! to clean, safe, & free Guelph tap water! - Need a reusable water bottle? We’ll hook you up!
- Email your CSA VP External Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved with any of the above or to chat about other ways to tap into the campaign!