More than 20,000 people have responded to the Ontario government’s proposed moratorium on water taking permits for new or expanded bottled water operations, and most support the ban.
Premier Kathleen Wynne proposed a two-year moratorium after bottled water giant Nestle purchased a well near Guelph that the fast-growing township of Wellington Centre wanted for its future drinking water supply.
The 45-day comment period on the moratorium for new bottled water operations ends at midnight, and the Liberals will review the submissions and use them to develop a new regulation that will take effect Jan. 1, 2017.
The government will post other potential regulations Friday looking at ways to improve the renewal process for existing water taking permits for bottled water companies – and the fees they pay – for 60 days of public comment.
Existing water taking permits for Nestle and other bottled water companies can last up to 10 years, but the Liberals want to change them to one-to-five year periods, with a maximum of five years.
Ontario charges just $3.71 for every one million litres of water taken, on top of a permit fee of $750 for low- or medium-risk water takings, or $3,000 for those considered a high risk to cause an adverse environmental impact. About 30 per cent are in the highest risk category.
Nestle has not been able to apply to even test the water at its new well, but it will be able to apply to renew permits to take up to 3.6 million litres a day from its well in Aberfoyle, where it has a bottling plant, and another 1.1 million litres a day at a well in nearby Erin, another community in Wellington county.
Municipalities, mines, construction companies and golf courses – in addition to the water-bottling companies – can take a total of 1.4 trillion litres out of Ontario’s surface and ground water supplies every day.