Proposal to extend the current moratorium on water bottling permits

ERO number
019-2319
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
August 28, 2020 - September 27, 2020 (30 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
August 28, 2020
to September 27, 2020

Decision summary

We are extending the current moratorium on new or increased permits to take groundwater to produce bottled water for up to 6 months, to April 1, 2021. This extension gives us time to thoroughly consider the feedback we received and further engage on how we can implement our proposed enhancements to Ontario’s water taking program.

Decision details

Ontarians can be confident water resources are protected by strong policies based on scientific evidence, and we continue to ensure we are prepared to adapt to changing circumstances.

From August 28, 2020 to September 27, 2020, we consulted on a proposal on the Environmental Registry to extend the moratorium on new or increased permits to take groundwater to produce bottled water. After considering all the comments we received on our proposal, we have decided to extend the moratorium up to six months, until April 1, 2021.

The extension of the moratorium will give us more time to:

  • thoroughly review and consider the feedback received on our proposed enhancements to Ontario's water taking program
  • further consult with the public, stakeholders and Indigenous communities on how we can implement those proposed enhancements before the moratorium ends

More information on these proposed enhancements can be viewed on ERO # 019-1340.

The moratorium prohibits:

  • new permits to take water that would authorize water bottling facilities to take groundwater
  • amending or issuing new permits for existing water bottling facilities that would authorize those facilities to take more groundwater than they are authorized to take when the moratorium took effect
  • 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.

During the extended moratorium, we will explore the best approach to give municipalities more direct input on allowing bottled water companies to withdraw water in their communities. This includes proposing legislative amendments to the Ontario Water Resources Act that would implement the proposed requirement for water bottlers to obtain the support of the host municipality before applying for a new or increased permit to take groundwater.

We will also engage with the public, stakeholders and Indigenous communities on draft guidance to support the implementation of the proposed enhancements to Ontario's water taking program, including those to:

  • enhance priorities of water use in the province that can guide water taking decisions
  • enable an area-based approach that allows the ministry to assess and manage multiple water takings together in areas of the province where water sustainability is a concern

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

Comments received

Through the registry

66

By email

610

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

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, environmental non-governmental organizations, the agricultural industry, and the bottled water industry.

The majority of the comments supported the moratorium extension to give us time to:

  • thoroughly review and consider feedback received
  • further engage on how we can implement our proposed enhancements to Ontario's water taking program

While the majority of comment supported the extension of the moratorium, a few comments were not supportive. Some questioned why the province is proposing to extend the moratorium when the independent third-party review of the province’s findings on bottled water takings indicated that science does not support the need to regulate water bottlers any differently than other takers.

Some public comments advocated for a permanent moratorium or outright ban on bottled water permits.

In addition to commenting on the moratorium extension, some public submissions expressed concern about plastic waste, water security, and the commodification and privatization of water.

A few comments:

  • noted that water is a human right
  • expressed concern for an insufficient charge for taking groundwater to produce bottled water
  • expressed support for giving municipalities more direct input on allowing bottled water companies to withdraw groundwater in their communities

Many stakeholders (e.g. municipalities, environmental non-governmental organizations, agricultural industry) and Indigenous communities and organizations supported the moratorium extension and expressed a desire for more time to review and comment on how the proposed changes to Ontario’s water taking program would be implemented before changes take effect.

Response

We considered all of the comments received during the Environmental Registry posting in the final decision. We have made a decision to proceed with the extension of the moratorium to April 1, 2021, consistent with the proposal.

During the moratorium extension, we intend to thoroughly review and consider feedback received on our proposed enhancements to Ontario’s water taking program, and further consult with the public, stakeholders and Indigenous communities on how we can implement those proposed enhancements before the moratorium ends.

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.

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-2319
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

August 28, 2020 - September 27, 2020 (30 days)

Proposal details

The Taking Ground Water to Produce Bottled Water Regulation (Ontario Regulation 463/16) established a moratorium on water bottling permits. The moratorium is currently set to expire on October 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 Ontario Regulation 463/16 to extend the moratorium for 6 months, ending April 1, 2021.

Purpose of proposal

Ontarians can be confident water resources are protected by strong policies based on scientific evidence, but we must always be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances.

To further ensure water resources in Ontario are protected and used sustainably, in June 2020, we proposed enhancements to Ontario’s water taking program. More information on the proposed enhancements can be viewed on ERO # 019-1340. The comment period closed on August 2, 2020.

While we consider comments received on our proposed enhancements to Ontario’s water taking program, we are proposing to extend the current moratorium on new or increased water takings from groundwater sources by water bottling facilities for an additional six months, until April 1, 2021.

This extension would give us the time to thoroughly review and consider the feedback received on our proposed enhancements to Ontario’s water taking program, as well as to further consult with the public, stakeholders and Indigenous communities on how we can implement those proposed enhancements before the moratorium ends.

While the proposed enhancements will help ensure we continue to conserve and manage water resources for future generations, we will also explore the best approach to give municipalities more direct input on allowing bottled water companies to withdraw water in their communities. This includes proposing a legislative amendment to the Ontario Water Resources Act that would implement the proposed requirement for water bottlers to obtain the support of the host municipality before applying for a new or increased permit to take groundwater.

We also heard through consultation that the public, stakeholders and Indigenous communities want more time to review and comment on how proposed amendments to Ontario’s water taking program would be implemented before changes take effect. Building on feedback received through consultation, the province is preparing draft guidance to support implementation of the proposals to:

  • establish priorities of water use in the province that can guide water taking decisions
  • enable an area-based approach that allows the ministry to assess and manage multiple water takings together in areas of the province where water sustainability is a concern

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.

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.

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from August 28, 2020
to September 27, 2020

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