For immediate release
December 18, 2003
MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT TO HALT RAIDING OF OUR PRECIOUS WATER RESOURCES
Takes steps to protect water at source
TORONTO - The McGuinty government is taking action to stop the reckless giveaway of Ontarios precious water resources by announcing an immediate one-year moratorium on new and expanded water-taking permits that remove water from watersheds, Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky said today.
We will use this year to review our groundwater supplies and draft new rules for water taking, Dombrowsky said. We will not grant new permits of this kind until we have new rules in place that will help us better protect our water resources.
The McGuinty government also plans to stop giving away Ontarios water for free. In the future, the government will charge water-bottling companies and other permit holders that remove water from watersheds.
Companies that want to take oil from the ground or trees from the forest have to pay for that privilege and have to follow provincial regulations. For example, when companies want to bottle our water, the previous government simply gave it to them for free, said Dombrowsky. The days of taking water away for free are over. The McGuinty government will make sustainability of our watersheds a priority, for a change.
The Walkerton Inquiry emphasized protecting sources of drinking water as a key part of ensuring a sustainable supply of drinking water.
Water bottlers and others who remove water out of a watershed cannot be permitted to just take more and more water, said Dombrowsky. We need to fully understand the consequences of takings on both the watershed and local water supplies. Nothing is more basic to life and the quality of life than an adequate supply safe and clean water.
Dombrowsky also announced the members of the two expert committees that had been previously announced.
The Technical Expert Committee will provide advice on a process for assessing threats to sources of drinking water in Ontario.
The Implementation Committee will provide advice to the government on how best to implement strategies to protect watersheds. This committee will also examine innovative funding mechanisms and incentives.
We are taking the first step towards introducing a law that would enhance protection of the lands that surround our vital water resources, said Dombrowsky.
The government will release a White Paper in February to consult on the planning aspects of source protection legislation, including the preparation, roles and responsibilities and approval of source protection plans.
* Media Backgrounder: ONTARIOS MORATORIUM ON NEW AND EXPANDED WATER-TAKING PERMITS FOR PRODUCTS SUCH AS BOTTLED WATER
* Media Backgrounder: MEMBERS OF THE EXPERT SOURCE WATER PROTECTION COMMITTEES
* Fact Sheet: WATERSHED-BASED SOURCE PROTECTION PLANNING
* Map: Primary Watersheds of Ontario