On May 18, 2010, Bill 72 (The Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act, 2010) was introduced and received first reading. If passed by the Legislature, the act would establish a framework to drive innovation, create economic opportunities, sustain water infrastructure and conserve Ontario’s water. It would lay the foundation for new Ontario jobs and make our province a North American leader in the development and sale of new technologies and services for water conservation and treatment.
The proposed Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act, 2010 contains a new stand-alone act, the Water Opportunities Act, 2010, as well as schedules containing amendments to existing legislation.
The proposed Water Opportunities Act, 2010 provides that the Minister may set aspirational targets in relation to the conservation of water and other targets the Minister considers appropriate.
The proposed Water Opportunities Act, 2010 would, if passed, establish a Water Technology Acceleration Project, a non-crown corporation to encourage collaboration and coordination between industry, governments and academia. The Water Technology Acceleration Project would assist in facilitating the creation and growth of globally competitive companies and high value jobs in the water and wastewater sector. This includes increasing the capacity of these sectors to develop, test, demonstrate and commercialize innovative technologies for the treatment and management of water and wastewater and expand business opportunities in Canada and abroad. It is also proposed that the Water Technology Acceleration Project would provide advice to government on actions to foster the development of Ontario’s water and wastewater sectors. Finally, this corporation would provide a forum for governments, the private sector, academia and others to exchange information and ideas on how to make Ontario a leader in the development and commercialization of innovative water and wastewater technologies.
The proposed Water Opportunities Act, 2010 also includes a regulation-making authority to require municipal water sustainability plans and allows the Minister of the Environment to establish performance indicators and targets for municipal water, wastewater and stormwater services. It is proposed that through regulation, prescribed entities would prepare a municipal water sustainability plan which would include an asset management plan, a financial plan, a water conservation plan, strategies for maintaining and improving the service, a risk assessment and other prescribed information. A regulation-making authority is proposed to prescribe details of municipal water sustainability plans, set timing and reporting requirements and other actions as necessary. The regulation may phase the requirements for municipal water sustainability plans over time.
The proposed Water Opportunities Act, 2010 includes regulation-making authority for the Minister of the Environment to require prescribed information on or with municipal water bills to promote transparency. The proposed Water Opportunities Act, 2010 if passed would allow the Minister to communicate progress made on provisions in the Act and other matters by reporting at least every three years.
The proposed Water Opportunities Act, 2010 would facilitate government leadership by providing regulation-making authority to require public agencies to consider water conservation and innovation in their procurement practices. The proposed Act also provides regulation-making authority to require prescribed public agencies to prepare water conservation plans. This includes proposed authority to require public agencies to achieve water conservation targets and consider technologies and services that promote the efficient use of water when making capital investments or purchasing goods and services.
Finally, other schedules of the proposed Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act, 2010 would amend existing legislation in order to help achieve the goals of innovation, creation of economic opportunities, sustainable infrastructure and water conservation. Amendments to the Building Code Act, 1992 are proposed to include consideration of water conservation in the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing's reviews of the Building Code and an enhanced mandate for the Building Code Energy Advisory Council to include water conservation. Also proposed are amendments to the Capital Investment Plan Act, 1993 to expand the objects of the Ontario Clean Water Agency, to allow OCWA to finance and promote the development, testing, demonstration and commercialization of technologies for the treatment and management of water, wastewater and stormwater and to allow OCWA to conduct business outside of Ontario. The proposed legislation would also transfer regulation-making authority for water efficiency standards from the Green Energy Act, 2009 to the Ontario Water Resources Act, 1990. It is also proposed that the Green Energy Act, 2009 be amended to expand the guiding principles for the Government of Ontario to consider the efficient and wise use of water when constructing, acquiring, operating and managing government facilities.