Proposal to extend the current moratorium on water bottling permits

ERO number
019-0913
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Ontario Water Resources Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
November 18, 2019 - December 18, 2019 (30 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
November 18, 2019
to December 18, 2019

Decision summary

We are extending the current moratorium on new permits and permits that authorize increases to take groundwater to produce bottled water for nine months, ending October 1, 2020.

Decision details

Our government is committed to protecting our lakes, waterways and groundwater supply, now and for future generations.

To ensure there is sufficient time to complete our review and analysis and to consult on any potential changes to the permit to take water program that arise from the review, we made the decision to extend the moratorium on new or increasing water takings from groundwater sources by water bottling facilities for nine months.

We came to this decision after completing a 30-day consultation on our proposal to extend the moratorium until October 1, 2020.

This decision includes amending the Taking Ground Water to Produce Bottled Water Regulation (Ontario Regulation 463/16) to extend the moratorium to October 1, 2020, and maintain the prohibition on:

  • permits to take water that would authorize new water bottling facilities to take groundwater
  • existing water bottling facilities to take 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

This extension gives us time to complete our analysis of the water quantity review and to publicly consult on and finalize changes to how we manage water takings before the moratorium ends.

The people of Ontario want confidence that the quantity and quality of water resources are protected, now and into the future, by good policy that is based on solid science and evidence. This is why we will also look to have the science reviewed and verified by a third-party.

During the moratorium, existing bottled water takings can continue taking groundwater provided they do not exceed the amount of groundwater taking they are authorized to take under their permit and that the taking is from the same location authorized in their permit.

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

The Interim Procedural and Technical Guidance Document for Bottled Water Renewals: Permit to Take Water Applications and Hydrogeological Study Requirements outlines specific procedural and technical requirements for renewal applications of existing permits for water bottling. This Interim Guidance continues to apply while the moratorium is in effect.

Under the Ontario Water Resources Act, a permit holder that submits their application for renewal 90 days before its expiry can continue to operate under the terms and conditions in their expired permits until the Director makes a decision on the application.

Water taking charges

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. This charge applies in addition to the charge of $3.71 per million litres of water for industrial and commercial water use under Ontario Regulation 450/07. That charge applies to facilities that incorporate water into a product, such as water bottlers and other beverage manufacturers, and ready-mix concrete manufacturers and is intended to recover costs of the province’s broader water quantity management programs.

Comments received

Through the registry

598

By email

8,105

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

Public consultation took place on this notice from November 18, 2019 to December 18, 2019.

In total 8,703 comments were received.

What we heard

We received comments from Indigenous communities as well as from a wide range of interested stakeholders, including members of the public, conservation authorities, municipalities, the agricultural industry, environmental non-governmental organizations and the bottled water industry.

The majority of comments supported the proposal to extend the moratorium to give the ministry time to complete its analysis of the water quantity review and to publicly consult on and finalize changes to Ontario’s water management regime, beyond water bottling, before the moratorium ends. Many stakeholders supported the need to be confident that our programs, policies and science protect vital water resources while keeping Ontario open for business.

Additional comments included advocating for a permanent moratorium on bottled water permits and requiring environmental assessments for all renewal applications for permits to take water for water bottling. Others expressed concern about the commodification and privatization of water for profit, an insufficient charge for taking groundwater to produce bottled water, plastic waste, water security, and implications of climate change and drought.

Response

We considered all of the comments received during the Environmental Registry posting in the final decision.

Our government is committed to protecting our lakes, waterways and groundwater supply, now and for future generations.

We committed in our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan to thoroughly reviewing the province's water taking policies, programs, and science tools to ensure that vital water resources are adequately protected and sustainably used.

We have been reviewing the state of water resources in key areas of Ontario and the effect water takings, with a particular focus on water bottling takings, have on these resources.

In order to ensure there is sufficient time to complete our review and analysis and to consult on any potential changes to the permit to take water program that may arise from the review, we have made a decision to proceed with the extension of the moratorium to October 1, 2020.

During the extended moratorium, we will continue to engage the public, stakeholders and Indigenous communities for input on how we manage provincial water takings to ensure safe, secure, and reliable sources of water.

Supporting materials

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Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks - Environmental Policy Branch
Address

40 St Clair Avenue West
Floor 10
Toronto, ON
M4V1M2
Canada

Office phone number

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-0913
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Ontario Water Resources Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Proposal posted

Comment period

November 18, 2019 - December 18, 2019 (30 days)

Proposal details

Moratorium on water bottling permits

The Taking Ground Water to Produce Bottled Water Regulation (Ontario Regulation 463/16) established a moratorium on water bottling permits. On December 21, 2018, the Ontario Regulation 463/16 was amended to extend the moratorium for one year, ending January 1, 2020.

The moratorium prohibits:

  • new permits to take water that would authorize water bottling facilities to take groundwater
  • existing water bottling facilities to take 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.

Proposal to extend the moratorium

We are proposing to amend the Ontario Regulation 463/16 to extend the moratorium for 9 months, ending October 1, 2020. This will give the ministry time to complete its analysis of the water quantity review and to publicly consult on and finalize changes to how we manage water takings before the moratorium ends. This way, we can be confident our programs, policies and science protect vital water resources while keeping Ontario open for business.

Purpose of regulation

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.

The moratorium regulation was implemented in the fall of 2016 to provide an opportunity to review the existing framework for managing water takings in Ontario with a particular focus on groundwater takings by water bottling facilities.

The main goals of the review were to:

  • advance our understanding of water resources in the province, including how factors such as 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

The ministry has completed its review of the policies, programs and science used to manage water takings in Ontario. Based on the review findings, we are considering opportunities to update the existing water taking framework to make it more resilient to managing our current and anticipated water quantity challenges.

Extending the moratorium until October 1, 2020 would give the ministry time to complete its analysis of the water quantity review and to publicly consult on and finalize changes to how we manage water takings before the moratorium ends. This way, we can be confident our programs, policies and science protect vital water resources while keeping Ontario open for business.

We are committed to protecting water resources in the province in a way that maintains the right balance between protecting our environment, while responsibly supporting a prosperous economy that creates jobs and opportunity for the people of Ontario.

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 (Interim Guidance).

During the moratorium, existing bottled water takings can continue provided they remain at the same permitted taking or lesser amount of water, from the same location, and for the same purpose. The Interim Guidance outlines specific procedural and technical requirements for renewal applications of existing permits for water bottling.

Water bottling facilities that submit their application for renewal 90 days before its expiry can continue to operate under the terms and conditions in their expired permits until we make a decision on the application.

This Interim Guidance would continue to apply while the moratorium is in effect.

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. The charge applies in addition to the charge of $3.71 per million litres of water for industrial and commercial water use (under Ontario Regulation 450/07). That charge applies to facilities that incorporate water into a product, such as water bottlers and other beverage manufacturers, and ready-mix concrete manufacturers and is intended to recover costs of the province’s broader water quantity management programs.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks - Environmental Policy Branch
Address

40 St Clair Avenue West
Floor 10
Toronto, ON
M4V1M2
Canada

Office phone number

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from November 18, 2019
to December 18, 2019

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