The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (``the Ministry``) has proposed a regulation (EBR Registry Number 012-8783) that would establish a moratorium on the issuance of new or increasing permits for water bottling by prohibiting a person from using groundwater for the purpose of manufacturing bottled water or manufacturing water as a product that is sold in other types of portable containers. The moratorium would apply in all of Ontario and would be in effect until January 1, 2019.
The regulation would prohibit any increases in the amounts of groundwater a water bottling facility is authorized to take under an existing Permit to Take Water (PTTW) while the moratorium is in effect. Any renewals of existing permits from existing facilities for water bottling from groundwater would be restricted to the same or a lesser amount of groundwater and from the same location. These renewals requests from existing facilities would be subject to new requirements, proposed in this notice.
These requirements are being proposed to enhance water security in Ontario, by ensuring the wise use and management of groundwater in the face of climate change and increasing demand due to population growth.
The proposed guidance document (attached) outlines the new requirements for bottled water Permit renewals. There are two types of new requirements - procedural requirements and technical requirements. In general, the new procedural requirements are designed to increase public reporting and transparency, and the new technical requirements are designed to increase the science requirements for proposed applications for Permit renewals.
In addition to the existing proposal for a moratorium and this proposal that identifies new rules for renewals, the Ministry will also be posting for public comment a proposal for a new water charge for water bottlers.
The Ministry is looking for your input on the proposed new requirements for bottled water permit renewals that are summarized below, and outlined in the attached draft guidance document.
Proposed New Procedural Requirements:
- Early Discussion: Mandatory pre-application technical consultation with the Ministry to ensure clarity on Ontario’s rules governing water takings; to discuss pre-submission notification and consultation requirements; requirements related to consideration of source water protection, climate change, drought and cumulative effects; mitigative measures and the hydrogeological study approach and the new stringent Permit conditions.
- Mandatory Pre-submission Notification: A proponent would be required to notify and consult with conservation authorities, municipalities, source protection authorities and other persons or communities. The public consultation and notification plan shall be reviewed during the pre-application consultation with the Ministry.
- Mandatory First Nations and Métis Pre-submission Notification: A proponent would be required to notify and consult with potentially affected First Nations and Métis. The consultation plan with the First Nations and Métis shall be reviewed during the pre-submission discussion with the Ministry.
- Mandatory Public Consultation: The proposal would be posted for a minimum 60 days for public comment period on the EBR, applicable for all bottled water applications (previously 30 day). All comments received will be taken into consideration during the application review. The Ministry has the authority to require a longer consultation period if it is felt to be in the public interest.
- Mandatory Public Reporting: The proponent would be required to publicly post on a website all materials related to the application to allow for easy public access.
- Factors to Consider in Decision Making: In evaluating a bottled water application, the Director must continue to consider; all public comments received, the results of the consultations with stakeholders and with First Nation and Métis communities, the natural functions of the ecosystem, water availability, technical studies, and the interest of other persons who have an interest in the water taking.
- Mandatory Reductions in Times of Drought: Following public comment and if a permit is approved, then there will be a new requirement for a mandatory decrease of a minimum of 10% reduction in water taken during Level 1 Low Water declaration, mandatory decrease of a minimum of 20% reduction during Level 2 declaration and a mandatory decrease of a minimum of 30% reduction during Level 3 (currently voluntary reductions).
- Regular review: In order to allow for new science and public input to be regularly considered, any new Permit will be issued for a time period of 1-5 years, with a 5 year maximum (reduced from the existing 10 year maximum).
- New Stringent permit conditions for bottled water will include:
- Monitoring and recording the total volume of water taken each day using devices that are capable of direct volumetric flow measurement and data recording.
- All data, interpretations, plans, or proposals for Permit changes submitted to the Ministry will be required to be supported by technical documentation prepared by a Qualified Person.
- Annual monitoring report is to be submitted to the Ministry that summarizes, presents and interprets all monitoring data that is collected under the authority of the Permit.
- Prior to commencement of water taking, the Permit Holder will be required to have a Well Interference Protocol prepared by a Qualified Person to address any public complaints of well interference. The Permit Holder will be required to provide a copy to the Ministry, the local conservation authority and the relevant municipality and have it posted publicly on a website.
- Permit Holders will be required to develop and maintain a public website that contains the following: the Permit; all technical reports submitted to the Ministry; annual monitoring reports; executive overview of the taking; Well Interference Protocol; graphical or numerical presentation of all daily water takings at each source (to be updated weekly); and all monitoring data.
- The Permit Holder will be prohibited from discharging water or any type of effluent to the natural environment without the appropriate approval.
- The Director has the discretion, based on reasonable grounds, to amend or revoke a Permit at any time.
- In addition to posting water taking records on a public website, the Permit Holder will continue to be required to annually report daily water takings to the Ministry’s Water Taking and Reporting System.
- Category Three Fees: Applications for bottled water Permit renewals are category three applications due to the requirement for a hydrogeological study and therefore the fee will be $3000 (as opposed to the previous fee of $750 for renewals without a study). This fee is separate from the annual charge for water taking that applies under Ontario Regulation 450/07.
Proposed New Technical Requirements:
The proposal would require all applications of Permits for groundwater takings that are for the purpose of water bottling to continue to be accompanied by a hydrogeological study. This study would provide the detailed technical information to evaluate any potential impacts as a result of the water taking. This study would be publicly available.
The hydrogeological study is required to include the following:
- Identification and description of the location and ownership of the property.
- The intended use of the taking.
- Who performed the hydrogeological study and when it was conducted.
- An outline of the scope of work performed in the study.
- An evaluation of the purpose, rates, volumes, location and predicted impact of the proposed water taking.
- An evaluation of the surrounding land use and natural features located adjacent to, and/or near the property.
- Justification for the water taking that takes into account the Ministry’s (SEV’s).
- Characterization of the hydrogeologic setting; the local physiographic and hydrogeological setting, including groundwater and surface water features and functions, so that the potential for interference can be evaluated. The study areas shall not be limited to the property boundary, but should focus on the area delineated by the maximum predicted area of influence.
- Well survey to collect baseline data.
- Consideration for surface water features in the study area so that potential interference can be evaluated.
- Methodology for the pumping test and drawdown analysis.
- A baseline water quality study.
- Field study analysis and any numerical computer modeling conducted, and summarize water budgets or estimates of sustainable yield that are made.
- Consideration of the potential for cumulative effects; the cumulative effects assessment shall take the form of a water budget, as a minimum. A water budget is a quantification of the various components of the hydrologic cycle to better understand how water moves through a watershed of an aquifer. A water budget shall be conducted using the methodologies under the Clean Water Act. Applicants are encouraged to update existing water budgets that have been prepared under the Source Protection Program. Where a water budget is not available, the applicant will need to conduct their own analysis.
- Impact assessment to determine the impacts of the taking on water quantity or quality including; impact to surface water and natural functions of the ecosystem, impact to existing groundwater users, cumulative effects assessment, climate change and drought assessment.
- Groundwater monitoring plan to monitor and evaluate the impacts of the taking to the natural functions of the ecosystem and to existing water users, ensure that groundwater elevation levels do not fall, confirm over time whether there is significant deviation between actual and predicted impacts and initiate contingency action. These monitoring results would be summarized in the annual monitoring report and posted for public review.
- Monitoring plans shall identify; frequent or continuous water-level monitoring of production and observation wells, the number of wells or piezometers required to effectively monitor groundwater levels and quality, specific hydrostratigraphic units that are being monitored, frequency and type of data collection, field sampling methods, methods of reporting and data analysis and field and laboratory sample quality assurance and quality control procedures.
- A contingency plan with established trigger limits to govern when the plans are to be put into action. The plan shall contain a description of mitigative measures that will be taken in the event that unforeseen and unacceptable impacts occur as a result of the proposed taking. Contingency plans shall also include; incorporation of low water response plans, description of mitigative measures to minimize or restore any negative impacts that may occur, and a trigger mechanism which specifies the circumstances that will trigger the implementation of the contingency plan. These contingency plans would be summarised annually and posted for public review.
Additional scientific studies would continue to be required as part of the hydrogeological study, including: a site-specific evaluation of the potential impacts to nearby water resources such as streams and wetlands, a water budget to assess potential impacts to water resources at a broader scale, and a cumulative effects assessment that takes the source protection water budgets, climate change and potential drought conditions into consideration.
These procedural and technical requirements are part of the Ontario government`s efforts to protect groundwater resources and to prevent impacts to the natural environment and other water users. The PTTW program and its rules may continue to be improved in the future as new science and policy emerges.
This proposal was posted for a 60 day public review and comment period starting December 02, 2016. Comments were to be received by January 31, 2017.
All comments received during the comment period are being considered as part of the decision-making process by the Ministry.
Please Note: All comments and submissions received have become part of the public record.
Other Public Consultation Opportunities:
Comments may also be submitted via e-mail to email@example.com
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Southwestern Regional Office
733 Exeter Road
Toll Free Phone:
The following government offices have additional information regarding this
To arrange a viewing of these documents please call the Ministry Contact or the Office listed below.
Environmental Bill of Rights Office
40 St. Clair Avenue West
The documents linked below are provided for the purposes of enhancing public consultation.
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