New rules to protect Ontario's water
The Globe and Mail
Published December 14th, 2004
Toronto — The Ontario government has imposed tough new
rules on those who take water from the ground and is taking
stronger measures to protect watershed-based sources,
Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky announced Tuesday.
The regulatory overhaul lifts a one-year water-taking
moratorium on Dec. 31 and implements more stringent reviews
of water-taking permits, Ms. Dombrowsky said in a release.
“We have a responsibility to make sure Ontario's lakes,
streams and aquifers are protected now and for future
generations,” she said. “We want to prevent problems,
not react to them.”
Under the rules, new or expanded water removal from high-use
watersheds will no longer be allowed as of Jan. 1.
The changes follow two committee reports, one technical
and one on implementation, that identify key threats to
watersheds across the province.
The reports make more than 250 recommendations and provide
the government with detailed direction as it prepares
comprehensive legislation to protect drinking water, expected
next spring. They also provide guidance to the government
on how to put in place recommendations stemming from the
judicial inquiry into the tainted-water tragedy in Walkerton,
Ont., in May 2000.
“Our government will ensure that for the first time Ontario
has a comprehensive, science-based program to protect
all our water resources including the Great Lakes, the
source of drinking water for most Ontarians.”
The reports recommend new controls on activities around
wells and drinking water intakes to protect against contamination.
They also call for regional watershed authorities to establish
so-called source-protection boards, which would set up
committees to develop protection plans.
Communities will be urged to identify potential water-source
threats, such as gas stations or farms, and ensure that
there is no pathway for contaminants to travel to the
It is estimated that the cost of developing protection
plans over the next five years could reach $240-million.