Ontario Liberals Allowing Water Bottling Companies to Take Your Water on Expired Permits
TORONTO – Ontario is allowing several bottled water companies to take up to 7.6 million litres of groundwater per day on expired permits, as it gives them time to amend renewal applications in light of new rules.
Premier Kathleen Wynne last year imposed a two-year moratorium on new and expanded permits to take water for bottling, effective Jan. 1, 2017. That came after bottled water giant Nestle purchased a well near Guelph that the small but fast-growing township of Wellington Centre wanted for its future drinking water supply.
As of Aug. 1, water bottlers also have to pay $503.71 for every million litres of groundwater they take – up from the previous $3.71 fee.
During the two-year moratorium, the government is giving bottled water companies a long lead time to amend any renewal applications so they comply with new technical requirements that came into effect in the spring.
Nine expired water taking permits – which in some cases have been expired for more than a year – from seven bottled water companies remain in effect until the government rules on their applications. That could take 18 months, according to an industry representative.
The maximum allowable amounts of those permits is 7.6 million litres per day, or 2.7 billion litres per year. The environment ministry notes, however, that those companies took less than half of their maximum amounts last year, for a total of 1.1 billion litres.
Environment Minister Chris Ballard said the government has placed a lot of new demands on the water bottlers, so they need time to comply.
“What we’re asking companies to do now is exceptionally robust,” he said. “What we’re looking at is the science of taking water and this takes a fair amount of research on our part. It takes research on the part of the proponents.”
Nestle’s two permits for Aberfoyle and Erin water taking locations are by far the largest, with a total maximum of 4.7 million litres allowed to be extracted per day. It is essential that Nestle ensures it is fully compliant with the new rules, as one of the largest bottled water companies and likely among the first to have its application posted, the company said.