Extending the moratorium on water bottling permits

ERO number
Notice type
Ontario Water Resources Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Transferred to
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Proposal posted
Comment period
October 30, 2018 - November 29, 2018 (30 days) Open

This consultation closes at 11:59 p.m. on:
November 29, 2018

Proposal summary

We are proposing to extend the current moratorium on new or increasing permits to take groundwater to produce bottled water. This would extend the moratorium for up to one year, to January 1, 2020.

In addition to commenting on this notice, you can also take a short survey to let us know what you think about our proposal.

Proposal details

Description of regulation

Current moratorium

On December 16, 2016, the Taking Ground Water To Produce Bottled Water Regulation (Ontario Regulation  463/16) was made, which established a moratorium on water bottling permits until January 1, 2019.

The moratorium prohibits:

  • new permits to take water that would authorize water bottling facilities to take groundwater
  • existing water bottling facilities taking more groundwater than authorized in their existing permits
  • new or amended permits that would allow a facility to take groundwater to conduct pumping tests to determine if it could use the groundwater supply as a source of water for bottled water

The moratorium does not apply to water bottling facilities that get their water from a municipal drinking water system. These facilities do not need a permit under the Ontario Water Resources Act since they do not take water directly from a ground or surface water source. Instead, the municipal drinking water system that supplies the water to the facility requires a permit.

Proposed extension

We are proposing to amend Ontario Regulation 463/16 to extend the moratorium for one year, until January 1, 2020. This will give us time to further advance the ministry's understanding of the water resources in the province, with a particular focus on groundwater takings by water bottling facilities.

Purpose of Regulation

Water is a vital resource – one that is essential to the health and integrity of our economy, ecosystems and communities.

Drought conditions in areas of southern and eastern Ontario in 2016, projected population and economic growth and the anticipated impacts of climate change have intensified concerns about water security in Ontario, particularly among communities that depend upon groundwater. These concerns prompted us to re-examine the current approach to managing water takings in the province, including the taking of groundwater for water bottling.

We passed the moratorium regulation in the fall of 2016 so we could review the existing water taking regime, with a particular focus on groundwater takings by water bottling facilities.

The goals of the ongoing review are to:

  • advance our understanding of water resources in the province, including how stresses like climate change and population growth may affect the sustainability of these resources
  • evaluate existing rules and policies that govern water taking, with a particular focus on groundwater takings by water bottling facilities

Extending the moratorium would give us time to complete the review of policies, programs and science used to manage water takings across the province, including groundwater takings for water bottling.

We intend to complete our water quantity policy, program and science review over the coming year.

We will consider the results of the review and engage Indigenous communities, stakeholders and the public on any potential improvements to our water taking rules before they are put in place.

Take this short survey to let us know what you think of this proposal.

Other Information

Interim guidance for renewals of existing bottled water permits to take groundwater

In April 2017, we implemented the Interim Procedural and Technical Guidance Document for Bottled Water Renewals: Permit to Take Water Applications and Hydrogeological Study Requirements.

Under the interim guidance, existing bottled water takings can continue during the moratorium. However, the interim guidance outlines requirements for renewal applications of existing permits that authorize facilities to take groundwater to produce bottled water. The taking must be:

  • from the same location
  • for the same purpose
  • with amounts equal to or less than those currently permitted

Water bottling facilities that submit their application for a permit renewal 90 days before its expiry can continue to operate under the terms and conditions of their existing permit when it expires until we make a decision on the renewal application.

This guidance will continue to apply until otherwise posted.

Water taking charges

As of August 1, 2017, facilities that take groundwater for bottled water and are required to have a water-taking permit are charged $500 per million litres of water under Ontario Regulation 176/17. This charge:

  • is intended to help recover the Ontario government’s costs to regulate and manage groundwater takings by water bottlers
  • is in addition to the charge of $3.71 per million litres of water that applies to industrial or commercial water user(s) that incorporate water into a product, including water bottlers and other beverage manufacturers, which is intended to recover a portion of the costs of the province’s broader water quantity management programs

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Some supporting materials may not be available online. If this is the case, you can request to view the materials in person.

Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.

Water Policy

40 St. Clair Avenue West
10th Floor
Toronto ON M4V 1M2

Office phone number


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