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Ministry’s New Rules for Bottled Water Permits

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is writing to you to share what actions the ministry has taken to further protect the water resources in Ontario for which we all have a shared responsibility to protect.  The ministry appreciates the critical importance of water to maintaining tradition ways of life, and the sacredness of this resource for which we share stewardship.

Today the ministry posted a decision on the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) Registry outlining the new requirements for bottled water permits using groundwater. The “Procedural and Technical Guidance Document for Bottled Water Renewals: Permit to Take Water Applications and Hydrogeological Study Requirements” puts in place stricter rules for renewals of existing permits.

In the face of climate change, population growth, increasing water consumption and drought, concerns around water security have risen not only from Indigenous organizations and communities but from other people worried about the future of this precious resource.

Ontario’s strategy to protect water includes:

  • these new stricter requirements that we are bringing to your attention today;
  • establishing a two-year moratorium in December 2016 on any new or increased water takings from groundwater by water bottling companies; and
  • proposed new regulatory charge for water bottling facilities taking groundwater.

These early actions on water bottling facilities that take groundwater within the existing Permit to Take Water Program are necessary to ensure we have a window of time for discussions and consultation with Indigenous peoples and Ontarians on water quantity management in the province including taking additional steps to better understand groundwater in Ontario, undertaking a review of provincial water taking rules, and examining a range of tools to better protect water.

During the 60-day public consultation period for the proposal (December 2, 2016 to January 31, 2017), the ministry received 8,431 comments: 8,344 comments in writing and 87 online. The guidance document has been updated to incorporate consideration of the issues raised. We heard from a number of Indigenous organizations and communities, and have met to discuss perspectives and concerns.  The ministry is committed to continuing these discussions as we move forward with the broader activities regarding water quantity management in Ontario.

With respect to the steps being taken today to strength the existing program rules for renewals of existing permits, a summary of the key elements is provided below:

  • procedural requirements – which increase public reporting and transparency, and
  • technical requirements – that enhance the scientific requirements.

This document is intended to provide guidance for renewal applications of existing permits that authorize the taking of groundwater for the purpose of producing bottled water from the same location, for the same purpose, and for the same or lesser amount as currently permitted, all in accordance with the requirements imposed by O. Reg. 463/16 (Taking Groundwater to Produce Bottled Water), made under the Ontario Water Resources Act.

Information relating to comments received and changes made to the guide are available on the Environmental Registry at: 012-9151.

View the guide: “Procedural and Technical Guidance Document for Bottled Water Renewals: Permit to Take Water Applications and Hydrogeological Study Requirements” here.

The requirements set out in this document will be further updated to reflect findings from the water quantity groundwater science review that is identified above, and as a result of the ongoing consultation on water management with Indigenous communities and organizations.

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