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E-M:/ ontario water takings moratorium



Ministry of the Environment
Ministère de l’Environnement
 
December 18, 2003  

ONTARIO’S  MORATORIUM ON NEW AND EXPANDED WATER-TAKING PERMITS FOR PRODUCTS SUCH AS BOTTLED WATER
 
On December 18, 2003, the McGuinty Government took action to stop the reckless giveaway of Ontario’s precious water resources by announcing an immediate one-year moratorium on new and expanded water-taking permits for products such as bottled water.
 
What the moratorium applies to:
 
The moratorium is in effect from December 18, 2003 until December 31, 2004.  It applies to new and expanded water-taking permits for products such as bottled water, and for other uses that remove water from the watershed.  It applies in Southern Ontario and in those Northern Ontario watersheds that are covered by a conservation authority.  There are five conservation authorities in Northern Ontario: Lakehead, Mattagami Region, Nickel District, North Bay-Mattawa and Sault Ste. Marie Region.  These are areas where population density is greater, there are more competing demands for these types of water takings and there is a water management authority in place. 
 

Municipalities are not affected by the moratorium, and this will not affect their ability to draw clean, safe water for municipal use, residential consumption or emergencies such as fire fighting. Permits for agricultural purposes are also not affected by the moratorium.
 
The moratorium would prohibit the issuance of new or expanding permits to take water for the following purposes:

§         beverage manufacturing, including the manufacturing or production of bottled water or water in other containers;
§        fruit or vegetable canning or pickling;
§        ready-mix concrete manufacturing;
§        aggregate processing where the aggregate and the water taken are incorporated into a product in the form of a slurry; and
§        the manufacturing or production of products where more than a total of 50,000 litres of the water that is taken, is or will be incorporated into a product on any day in the normal course of manufacturing or producing the product.

The moratorium would NOT apply to:

§         water taken for agricultural purposes, including aquaculture, nurseries, tree farms and sod farms;
§         water taken for municipal water supplies or sewage treatment plants;
§         dewatering of pits and quarries, and aggregate washing;
§         renewals of existing permits for the same volume from the same location and for the same purpose;
§         existing permits to take water.  However, the amount of water a permit holder may take will be frozen at the current amount of water being taken. Therefore, permits that allow for an increase for future water takings will be revoked and new permits will be issued to implement the freeze.
 
Why the need for a moratorium:
 
This moratorium on new and expanding water-taking permits for products such as bottled water is another important step to ensuring our sourcewater resources are soundly protected. 
 
Currently, permits to take water do not fully consider the effects of the water taking on the whole watershed.  This moratorium is intended to ensure this questionable practice does not continue while new rules are being developed. 
 
Ontario cannot continue to permit water bottlers and others who transfer a significant amount of water out of a watershed to take more and more water, until it fully understands the consequences of these additional stresses on both the watershed and local water supplies. 
 
The moratorium will provide time to review Ontario’s groundwater supplies and draft new rules for water taking.  Ontario will not grant new permits of this kind unless and until it is certain there is enough water in the watershed for this and future generations.
 
The McGuinty government also plans to stop giving away Ontario’s water for free. In the future, Ontario will charge water-bottling companies and other permit holders that remove water from watersheds.
 
The need for a comprehensive sourcewater protection framework:
 
The McGuinty government is committed to implementing all of Commissioner O’Connor’s recommendations in the Report of the Walkerton Inquiry, Parts One and Two.  As emphasized by Commissioner O’Connor, protecting sources of drinking water is a key component of an overall system of ensuring safe drinking water.  Commissioner O’Connor stressed that Ontario needs to ensure a comprehensive sourcewater protection framework is in place. 
 
The McGuinty government is not satisfied that Ontario has the right rules and legislative framework in place to protect our valuable water resources for future generations. The protection of sourcewater in Ontario is currently managed through a series of various initiatives. Presently, there is no comprehensive sourcewater protection framework in place. 
 
The McGuinty government is taking the first step towards introducing a law that would enhance protection of the lands that surround our vital water resources.  The appointment of two expert committees will help ensure we get the technical details and implementation right, when it comes to water taking rules and protecting water at the source.
 
The McGuinty government has committed to the development and implementation of a comprehensive sourcewater protection framework.  The moratorium marks another important step towards ensuring Ontario’s sourcewater resources are soundly protected.  It is intended to ensure Ontario does not overstretch its water supply before the government begins implementing such an all-encompassing protection system. 
 
The government will release a White Paper in February to consult on the planning aspects of source protection legislation including the preparation, roles and responsibilities and approval of source protection plans. The government’s White Paper will also seek input on strengthening the permit to take water program.  New rules will be developed to define how water takings are to be assessed and by what means. The new rules will establish the conditions for lifting the moratorium on a watershed basis.
 
Contacts:
Arthur Chamberlain
Minister’s Office
(416) 314-5139

Mark Rabbior
Communications Branch
(416) 314-6666
 
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www.ene.gov.on.ca