Prov­ince seeks to ex­tend mora­to­rium on bot­tled wa­ter tak­ing per­mits

Ford gov­ern­ment ask­ing if it should be ex­tended un­til 2020

Waterloo Region Record - - Local - CHRIS SETO

GUELPH — The prov­ince is ask­ing the pub­lic to weigh in on whether it should ex­tend a mora­to­rium on grant­ing per­mits for bot­tled wa­ter com­pa­nies to take ground­wa­ter.

In De­cem­ber 2016, the for­mer Lib­eral gov­ern­ment placed a mora­to­rium on any new — or ex­pand­ing ex­ist­ing per­mits - to take ground­wa­ter to pro­duce bot­tled wa­ter. It’s set to ex­pire at the start of 2019.

Be­sides no new per­mits given, the or­der also pre­vents fa­cil­i­ties from con­duct­ing pump­ing tests to see if ground­wa­ter in a given area could be used as a source for bot­tled wa­ter.

The cur­rent On­tario gov­ern­ment is ask­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic to sub­mit com­ments about the is­sue and com­plete a oneques­tion sur­vey about their pro­posal to ex­tend the mora­to­rium un­til the start of 2020.

By ex­tend­ing the mora­to­rium for an ex­tra year, it “will give us time to fur­ther ad­vance the min­istry’s un­der­stand­ing of the wa­ter re­sources in the prov­ince, with a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on ground­wa­ter tak­ings by bot­tling fa­cil­i­ties,” the gov­ern­ment pro­posal reads.

With drought con­di­tions seen in south­ern and eastern On­tario in 2016, and with the pro­jected pop­u­la­tion and eco­nomic growth, and with the an­tic­i­pated im­pacts of cli­mate change, the con­cerns around wa­ter se­cu­rity in the prov­ince have in­ten­si­fied, the pro­posal reads.

Robert Case, board chair of Welling­ton Wa­ter Watch­ers, said the pro­posal is a step in the right di­rec­tion and is much bet­ter than pre­ma­turely end­ing the mora­to­rium, but the prov­ince didn’t go far enough.

“I think that the gov­ern­ment should just move to­ward a phase­out of this in­dus­try,” he said, adding bot­tled wa­ter in­dus­tries don’t add much value to com­mu­ni­ties they op­er­ate in.

“Up in Cen­tre Welling­ton it’s al­ready come in con­flict with the com­mu­nity needs for ac­cess to wa­ter for a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion.”

He’s re­fer­ring to Nestlé Wa­ters and the com­pany’s pur­chase of a well near Elora in 2016 at the for­mer Mid­dle­brook Wa­ter Com­pany site. The Town­ship of Cen­tre Welling­ton made an of­fer on the prop­erty but lost to Nestlé in the end.

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