Ontario to extend water taking bottling permit moratorium to 2020

Environment Minister Rod Phillips says he wants to extend a moratorium to 2020 on new or expanded permits to take ground water by bottled water companies. The current moratorium is set to expire on Jan. 1, 2019.

Extension will allow province to do a thorough review of water taking policies: Phillips

Ontario Environment Minister Rod Phillips says he is proposing extending the current moratorium on new or increasing permits to take groundwater by bottled water companies by a year. (Tijana Martin/Canadian Press)

The provincial government is looking to extend the current moratorium on new or increasing permits to take groundwater by bottled water companies to Jan. 1, 2020.

The current moratorium was put in place in Dec. 2016 by the previous Liberal government and is set to expire on Jan. 1, 2019.

The additional year would give the government time to complete a thorough review of water taking policies, Environment Minister Rod Phillips said in his annual report on drinking water, released Tuesday.

"Our government will ensure the continued protection of our water resources," Phillips said in a release. "Actions set out in our new environment plan will help us tackle the many pressures on our water resources and ensure our lakes, waterways and groundwater are well protected, now and for future generations."

Phillips said Ontario is also continuing work with the federal government and the other provinces and territories to manage plastic waste.

Time to complete studies

The Township of Centre Wellington had asked the province to extend the moratorium to 2023.

Centre Wellington is home to the Middlebrook well, which was purchased by Nestlé Waters Canada in the summer of 2016. It was later learned the township had also tried to purchase the property where the well is located, formerly the Middlebrook Water Company.

The township had been an anonymous bidder for the property. After that was made public, Andreanne Simard, a hydrologist with Nestlé Waters Canada, said they "immediately started thinking of ways that we could partner" with township.

The moratorium means Nestlé is unable to do any tests on the well and cannot pump from it.

In an interview last month, Mayor Kelly Linton said the township is currently working on two projects:

  • A long-term water master plan, which looks at the township's growth up to 2041.
  • Joining with the Grand River Conservation Authority on a water budget study.

"Those projects will be completed by 2019, but there's a number of other activities that have to happen after that and that's why we were requesting a four-year moratorium extension," he said.

"We weren't sure that they were going to give us any extension at all, so in some ways I'm somewhat pleased that they have extended it a year because that does give us the opportunity to complete our studies."

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