Kitchener-Waterloo

Ontario extends water bottling moratorium by 9 months

The Ontario government has announced it is extending the moratorium on water-taking bottling permits until October 1, 2020.

The moratorium, which was put in place in 2017, was set to expire on Jan. 1

The moratorium on new and expanded permits to take water for bottling was put in place by the former Liberal government in 2017 after bottled water company Nestle purchased a well near Guelph that the township of Centre Wellington wanted for its future drinking water supply. (Shutterstock)

The Ontario government has announced it's extending the moratorium on water-taking bottling permits until October 1, 2020.

"This extension gives us time to complete our analysis of the water quantity review and to publicly consult on and finalize changes to how we manage water takings before the moratorium ends," said the decision posted by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Last month, the province proposed the moratorium extension, which was put in place by the former Liberal government in 2017. The bottled water giant Nestlé had purchased a well near Guelph that the township of Wellington Centre wanted for its future drinking water supply.

The moratorium was extended last year by the Progressive Conservatives, and was set to expire on Jan. 1. 

Kelly Linton, mayor of Centre Wellington, is pleased about the moratorium extension, but he would like to see it extended for a longer period of time.

"We'd like to see it extended for Centre Wellington until 2023," said Linton.

"And the thought behind that is ... we have a couple of pretty comprehensive studies out there right now that say we need to drill more wells in Centre Wellington in the next three to five years and so we'd prefer not to have to compete for water taking with commercial water bottling companies."

Public feedback backs moratorium

After the province proposed the moratorium extension last month, it also asked for public feedback on the idea of the extension. The ministry received 8,703 comments.

The government said "the majority of comments supported the proposal to extend the moratorium ... Additional comments included advocating for a permanent moratorium on bottled water permits and requiring environmental assessments for all renewal applications for permits to take water for water bottling."

Groups such as the Wellington Water Watchers and Council of Canadians have been calling on the government to make the moratorium permanent.

Nestlé Waters Canada president Adam Graves has said in an email statement that his company welcomes the opportunity provided by an extended moratorium to "demonstrate [its] commitment to the responsible stewardship of Ontario's fresh water resources."