Environmentalists and the leader of the Green Party were pleasantly surprised that the Ford government is tightening up the rules regarding commercial water bottling in the province. Essentially the changes give municipalities more control over water bottling permits that are issued.
The changes were triggered when bottled water giant Nestle purchased a well near Guelph that the Township of Centre Wellington wanted for its future drinking water supply.
“We can’t take our water for granted — it is a vital resource for our health and well-being, and to the way of life we all enjoy,” Environment Minister Jeff Yurek said in a statement. “Ontarians can be confident our water resources are protected by good policy based on solid science and evidence, but we must always be prepared to adapt.”
The government is suggesting a hierarchy of needs be established in cases where water is scarce and there are competing demands. Proposed highest priority uses would be drinking water and environmental uses such as maintaining stream flows, then agricultural irrigation. They would be followed by industrial and commercial uses — such as golf course irrigation and aggregate washing — then others such as aesthetic and other non-essential uses.
“My first thought was, after two years of the government pretty much dismantling environmental protections they came out with a proposal here that actually does incorporate a couple key recommendations that I’ve been putting out there,” said Green party Leader Mike Schreiner.