Ontario looks at 2-year hold on bottled water business

The Ontario government is putting a two-year hold on the bottled water business as it looks to develop stricter scientific standards for water-taking permits in the province.

New rules would require bottling companies to limit water taking during times of drought

While bottled water companies cannot start new or expand existing operations for two years, there will not be any immediate increase in the $3.71 the province charges for every 1,000,000 litres of water taken, which the government is still reviewing. (CBC)

Ontario's Liberal government is proposing a two-year hold on the creation or expansion of any bottled water operations as part of a plan to strengthen the rules around water taking permits.

The Canadian Press has learned the government plans to impose stricter scientific requirements for water taking permits such as studies on the cumulative impact of the practice on local supplies, especially during droughts.

However, there will not be any immediate increase in the 3-dollars and 71-cents the province charges for every one million litres of water taken, which the government is still reviewing. 

A source familiar with the announcement says the Liberals want companies to create websites listing information about their water taking permits and showing the actual amounts taken every week.

Tougher rules during drought

The province also wants to make it mandatory – it's currently voluntary – for bottled water companies to reduce water takings during droughts like the one experienced this year in Wellington county, 100 kilometres west of Toronto.

The government will post its proposed changes for water taking permits on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry today for 45-days of public comment.

The changes could mean Nestle would not get a permit for a well it bought in Centre Wellington that the township wanted for its water supply, but it could get renewals for permits to take up to 4.7 million litres a day from wells in nearby Aberfoyle and Erin.