By: The Working Forest Staff
TORONTO — The Ontario government is seeking public input on its water quantity management proposal. The proposal aims to protect the long-term sustainability of surface water and groundwater and ensure these important resources are responsibly managed and safeguarded now and into the future, as committed in the province’s Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan. The proposal would also give municipalities a greater say in allowing companies to withdraw groundwater in their communities for bottled water.
“We can’t take our water for granted – it is a vital resource for our health and well-being, and to the way of life we all enjoy,” said Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks. “Ontarians can be confident our water resources are protected by good policy based on solid science and evidence, but we must always be prepared to adapt. Based on initial input from our stakeholders and Indigenous communities, we have put forward proposed enhancements to our water taking rules that will create a more flexible and robust program.”
The proposed changes include:
- Requiring water bottling companies to have the support of their host municipalities for new and increasing bottled water takings, with an exemption for small businesses.
- Establishing priorities of water use in the province that can guide water taking decisions.
- Assessing and managing multiple water takings together in areas of the province where water sustainability is a concern.
- Making water taking data available to the public to increase the transparency of how Ontario manages water resources.
The Government encourages the public to provide their feedback on the water quantity management proposal, which is open for public comment on the Environmental Registry until August 2, 2020. These comments will help inform the updates to further protect water resources in Ontario.
The review of water resources in Ontario, which is supported by independent experts, found that the government’s current approach to managing water takings is effective. The review also identified opportunities to build on our current framework to ensure that we can manage water takings sustainably in situations when water supplies may be limited.