More money for the MOECC but it will not SaveOurWater.CA or Your Water!
It’s now official! The MOECC announced on Thursday, June 8 that fees for water bottlers will jump from 3.71 per million litres to 503.71 for the same amount. The new pricing will go into effect later this summer.
This fee increase was expected. The rates charged to water bottling companies had to increase to more fully reflect the administrative cost of managing these water permits. Comparatively, water-bottling permits require disproportionately high amounts of Ministry time and effort to evaluate and process. Still, the new fee covers only a fraction of the cost to the province of protecting groundwater for future generations.
The fee increase is one part of the province’s plan during the moratorium to develop new policies to better protect and manage groundwater. The Ministry acknowledged several factors that their policy would address: it acknowledged that parts of the province targeted for population growth have valid concerns about water security; it recognized the increasing impacts of climate change on our water resources; and it recognized the need to prioritize water uses.
Along with the announced fee increase are new, stricter rules for the industry. On April 21st, the province issued new guidelines for renewals of existing water bottling permits. These new rules will affect Nestlé’s permits at Hillsburg which is up in July, and at Aberfoyle, where the permit has expired but pumping can continue until a new permit is granted.
These new stricter rules download the responsibility for the scientific processes onto the applicant. Also under the new rules, consultation processes, including consultation with municipalities and with First Nations, have now been devolved from the Ministry down to the applicant. These are more hoops for the applicant to jump through, and the downloading will save the province even more of the administrative costs, but the guidelines raise new problems altogether.
The science is not going to be peer reviewed and the downloaded consultation process allows the applicant to tell their version of the story. The new process does not take into account the long term cumulative effects of the over 700 large-scale water extraction permits in our fragile Grand River watershed.
The provincial moratorium on new permits means that any decision for Middlebrook is delayed, but not denied thus far
Over 20,000 comments were posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights about the moratorium and 8000 on the new technical requirements. Polls reveal that 65 per cent of Ontario citizens want no more permits for commercial water bottling. What appears to be progress does not yet show how water sources will be protected in the Province of Ontario.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Media Contact, info@SaveOurWater.CA