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The Living Water Policy Project
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This Page summarizes all recent water policy changes contained within this site into a chronologically ordered list. if you would like to compare water policy between up to three provinces please use the widget on the right.
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Province/territory: Ontario
category: Drinking Water Laws (Jul 07/14)
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The Safe Drinking Water Act (2002) is designed to protect Ontarians' drinking water. The Ontario Drinking Water Advisory Council was created under this Act in order to advise the Government of Ontario, Ministry of the Environment on drinking water standards, legislation, regulations, and issues, to protect the water that Ontarians drink. This Act created various new requirements, such as the mandatory use of accredited laboratories for drinking water testing and certification of operators of drinking water systems.

The Clean Water Act (2006) is designed to protect drinking water sources by requiring local communities to look at existing and potential threats to their water and set out and implement actions necessary to reduce or eliminate significant threats. For the most highly used watersheds under this Act, water budgets are being developed. This Act will also help private water users by identifying aquifers and recharge areas vulnerable to contamination.  Three tiers of water budgets are being worked on across the province. The Ontario Water Resources Act (1990) requires each municipality to be responsible for ensuring that water of adequate quality is delivered to the consumer. The Sustainable Water and Sewage Systems Act (2002) has received Royal Assent but not yet been proclaimed in force. Its purpose is to ensure clean and safe drinking water by making it mandatory for municipalities to assess the costs of providing water and sewage services and to recover the amount of money needed to operate, maintain, and replace them. The Government of Ontario is currently working on regulations necessary to implement the Act such as financial plan regulations. First Nations communities are located on Federal Reserve land, which falls within Federal jurisdiction. Provincial drinking water legislation does not apply to these communities. 
Province/territory: Ontario
category: Transboundary Issues (Jul 07/14)
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Ontario's transboundary issues are dominated by concerns over the Great Lakes Basin and St. Lawrence River. Ontario signed the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement (2005), which committed the province to various protective measures, such as prohibiting interbasin water transfers.

The Canada-Ontario Agreement - Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem (Government of Canada and Ontario, 2002) has committed the governments of Ontario and Canada to coordinate resources and work to clean up hotspots and to protect and restore biodiversity and health ecosystems. It is available for public comments There are also Lakewide Management Plans, which involves binational cooperation in identifying and dealing with environmental issues in the Great Lakes. The ultimate goal of the Lakewide Management Plans is to restore and enhance the Great Lakes' ecosystems. There are no agreements between any levels of government acknowledging First Nations water rights, except those delineated under land claim or self-government agreements, such as the Nisga'a Agreement.

Province/territory: Ontario
category: Data Collection/Monitoring (Jul 07/14)
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Various strategies exist to monitor water in Ontario. The Water Resources Information Program (2008) is one such strategy established in 2000 that works with a variety of partners to collect, manage, and use digital information about water. It is designed to encourage information sharing among agencies engaged in water management.

The Provincial Groundwater Monitoring Network (Government of Ontario, 2006) consists of 465 monitoring wells that characterize the location, quality and sustainable yield of groundwater (Conservation Authority, 2009). The information collected by these monitors is limited by the fact that they are intentionally located away from major local influences, like large municipal water takings, to establish ambient monitoring. The Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network (Government of Ontario, 2006) collects surface water quality information around the province at 400 plus monitoring stations (Conservation Authority, 2009). There they monitor for contaminants such as pesticides, chloride, and trace metals. Despite these efforts, it is still difficult to obtain coherent data on water quantity and quality in Ontario. Beginning in 2005, the Ontario Regulation Water Taking (2007) has been phasing in requirements that Permit to Take Water holders must collect and record data on the volume of water taken daily. This requirement should help close the existing gaps in data collection. There are no provincial or territorial programs to monitor drinking water or water resources in First Nations communities. 
Province/territory: Ontario
category: Water Rights (Jul 07/14)
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A Permit to Take Water is required for anyone taking more than 50,000 litres of water per day, with some exceptions (e.g., fire fighting, livestock, and domestic use).  According to the Ontario Water Resources Act (1990) and the Water Taking and Transfer Regulation (2007), the Minister of the Environment appoints a director to issue licenses.

Note: a new cap on domestic uses and livestock and poultry will be introduced when amendments to the Ontario Water Resources Act (1990) are proclaimed in force. While domestic uses, and watering of livestock and poultry do not currently require a Permit to Take Water, withdrawals over 370,000 litres per day will require a permit.  The maximum duration of a license is for a period of 10 years, at which point the permit holder will have to apply for renewal. The Ministry of the Environment determines the duration of each permit according to the known or predicted level of risk to the environment. Using an adaptive management approach, the director considers several factors such as the purpose of the taking, watershed conditions, and sensitivity of the environment (Ontario Water Resources Act, 1990, § 34). When applying for a Permit to Take Water, the Ministry of the Environment Director will review the application and consider a variety of factors. Different levels of review exist based on the classification of risk (there are 3 categories). The Ontario Regulation on Water Taking (2004) outlines the factors to be considered according to section 34 of the Ontario Water Resources Act (1990) when considering granting an application, or cancelling, amending, or imposing conditions on a permit. The Ontario Water Resources Act (1990) allows the director to require studies to support the application to ensure that the quantities being allocated and withdrawn by users promote ecosystem protection and sustainability.  A Permit to Take Water is not transferable without the director's written permission. The Environmental Bill of Rights (1993) requires proposed water takings to be posted on the Environmental Registry for public comment. These comments are to be considered when evaluating the application.  Penalties may be issued for taking more than 50,000 litres of water per day without a permit, failing to comply with the terms and conditions of a permit, or failing to comply with a director's notice or order (Ontario Water Resources Act, YEAR, § 109). Penalties can range from the cancellation of a permit, to fines of up to $6,000,000 and/or imprisonment for an individual and $10,000,000 for corporations. For spills and unlawful discharges in water by "regulated persons" (Ontario Regulation Environmental Penalties, 2007, § 1) the Ontario Water Resources Act (YEAR) sets the relevant environmental penalties. Historically, Ontario follows the riparian tradition of water allocation, but an administrative permitting system has largely taken over. First Nations rights to water are not yet explicitly and legally acknowledged in any provincial or federal legislation. The 1987 Federal Water Policy (Environment Canada, 1987) acknowledges Native interests in water but this has not generally been reflected in provincial allocation decisions. 
Province/territory: Ontario
category: Key Ministries & Departments (Jul 07/14)
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The Government of Ontario, Ministry of the Environment is charged with regulating water through the Clean Water Act (2006), Municipal Water and Sewage Transfer Act (1997), Nutrient Management Act (2002), Ontario Water Resources Act (1990), Safe Drinking Water Act (2002), and the Sustainable Water and Sewage Systems Act (2007).  There is a Water Policy Branch at the Ministry of the Environment.

The Government of Ontario, Ministry of Agriculture and Food is responsible with regulating water through the Nutrient Management Act (2002), and the Drainage Act (1990), and, while not an Act, the Ontario Low Water Response Plan (2003). Ministry of Natural Resources is mandated with regulating water through the Conservation Authorities Act (1990), Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act (1990), and the Public Lands Act (1990). This ministry is also an integral partner in the delivery of the Clean Water Act (2006), Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (1990), Ontario Water Resources Act (1990), the Planning Act (1990), and the Safeguarding and Sustaining Ontario's Water Act (2002). The Government of Ontario, Ministry of Energy is responsible for promoting the energy supply. The Government of Ontario, Ministry of Infrastructure manages infrastructure planning. This ministry deals with ensuring that government investments are made in key sectors, such as water and wastewater. The Government of Ontario, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is in charge of regulating water through the Health Protection and Promotion Act (1990). Other key agencies and groups include Conservation Ontario and the 36 Conservation Authorities; Ontario Clean Water Agency, a Crown Agency established under the Capital Investment Plan Act (1993); Ontario Drinking Water Advisory Council. 
Province/territory: Ontario
category: Central Water Legislation (Jul 07/14)
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The Water Opportunities Act (2010), passed in the legislature on November 23, 2010.  The act allows for the creation of new regulation, such as requirements that municipal governments create water sustainability plans.  The act will also establish a capacity building mechanism, the Water Technology Acceleration Project, which will encourage collaboration between government, academia and civil sectors.  Through the act, the government aims to lay the foundation for new Ontario jobs and to make the province the North American leader in the development and sale of new technologies and services for water conservation and treatment.

The Clean Water Act (2006), last amended in 2009, is designed to help communities identify risks to their drinking water and reduce these risks through the work of local, multistakeholder source protection committees. The Ontario Water Resources Act (1990), last amended in 2009, addresses technical management issue of Ontario's waters, such as permitting for discharge of pollution, water transfers, well construction, and sewage works. The Safe Drinking Water Act (2002), last amended in 2009, sets out treatment and testing requirements for water systems and addresses matters concerning distribution of drinking water. The Nutrient Management Act (2002), as part of Ontario's Clean Water Strategy, the act was designed to reduce the potential for water and environmental contamination from some agricultural practices. The Act establishes the framework for best practices regarding nutrient management (particularly manure). The Nutrient Management Act also provides standards for nutrient storage and how nutrients are applied to farmland, in order to reduce the likelihood of ground or surface water contamination. The Safeguarding and Sustaining Ontario's Water Act (2007), which amends the Ontario Water Resources Act (1990), brought in changes to the Ontario Water Resources Act based on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement (2005). Specifically, it addresses Great Lakes Basin cooperative management issues, such as the prohibition on new and increased intra and inter-basin transfers. Other significant legislation that impacts the management of water in Ontario include the: Canada-Ontario 2002 Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem and Annexes-this is not legislation, but it is an important agreement; Drainage Act (1990), last amended in 2006; Environmental Bill of Rights (1993), last amended in 2009; Green Energy Act (2009); Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act (1990), last amended in 2009; Municipal Water and Sewage Transfer Act (1997), last amended in 2006; and the Sustainable Water and Sewage Systems Act (2002), which was last amended in 2006, but is not yet proclaimed in force.


Province/territory: Ontario
category: Introduction (Jul 07/14)
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Ontario is considered a water-rich province. Nevertheless, it is not immune to water shortages. This is becoming increasingly apparent as a result of climate change.  Transboundary issues continue to be of central importance to the province because of the Great Lakes Basin, which is a shared water source with Québec and eight of the American states.  The Great Lakes Protections Act expected to pass in 2014 has been stalled by the Ontario elections.

Canada-Ontario 2002 Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem and Annexes an important agreement is open for public comment. Ontario is the only province in the country that has an Environmental Commissioner.  Environmental Commissioner of Ontario is the province's independent environmental watchdog.  Appointed by the Legislative Assembly, the ECO is tasked with monitoring and reporting on compliance with the Environmental Bill of Rights, and the government's success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in achieving greater energy conservation in Ontario (Environmental Commissioner, 2010).


Province/territory: Nunavut
category: References (Jul 07/14)
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Document Disclaimer:

Every effort has been made to ensure complete accuracy of the content of this briefing note but this document is only a summary and should not be considered legal or planning advice.  Please refer to the relevant legislation and regulations for further information.

References

Bakker, K. (2007). Eau Canada. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press. Council of the Federation. (2007). Climate Change:  leading practices by provincial and territorial governments in Canada.  Retrieved March 29, 2010, from http://www.councilofthefederation.ca/pdfs/CCInventoryAug3_EN.pdf de Loë R.C., Varghese, J., Ferreyra, C., & Kreutzwiser, R.D. (2007).  Water allocation and water security in Canada:  Initiating a policy dialogue for the 21st century.  Guelph, ON:  Water Policy and Governance Group, University of Guelph. Government of Canada, Department of Finance. (2013). Federal Support to Provinces and Territories. Retrieved May 12, 2014, from http://www.fin.gc.ca/fedprov/mtp-eng.asp Government of Nunavut, Department of Environment. (2003). Nunavut climate change    strategy. Retrieved March 29, 2010, from             http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/webarchives/20071214072639/http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ps/nap/wat/polprohnuna01_e.html#4 INAC. (2003). A policy respecting the prohibition of bulk water removal from major          River Basins in Nunavut. Retrieved March 29, 2010 from            http://www.mediabox.com/clients/INAC/nunavut/english/pdf/Acts_Leg_Reg_PolPolicy_Bulk_Water.pdf  INAC. (2006). Report of the expert panel on safe drinking water for first nations.    Retrieved March 29, 2010, from http://www.eps-sdw.gc.ca/rprt/index_e.asp INAC. (2009). Water Management. Retrieved March 29, 2010, from http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/nth/wa/wm-eng.asp Kinkhead, J., Boardley, A. (2008). Analysis of Canadian and other water conservation practices and initiative, issues, opportunities, and suggested directions Prepared for the Water Conservation and Economics Task Group, Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment.  Retrieved March 29, 2010 from http://www.ccme.ca/assets/pdf/kinkead_fnl_rpt_2005_04_2.1_web.pdf Mifflen, M. (2009) The prince and the pauper - Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and the Government of Nunavut OPTIONS POLITIQUES July - August 2009 pp 92 - 96. Northwest Territories Waters Act, S.C. 1992, c. 39 Northwest Territories Waters Regulations, SOR/93-303, (Northwest Territories Waters      Act)   Nunavut Act, S.C. 1993, c. 28 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, S.C. 1993, c. 29 Nunavut Power Corporation Utility Assets Transfer Confirmation Act, S.Nu. 2001, c. 5 Nunavut Water Board. (2009). Nunavut water board. Retrieved March 29, 2010, from              http://www.nunavutwaterboard.org/en/legislation Nunavut Water Board. (2010).  About us. Retrieved March 29th, 2010, from             http://www.nunavutwaterboard.org/en/about_us Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act, S.C. 2002, c. 10   Public Utilities Act, R.S.N.W.T. 1988, c. 24 (Supp.)  
Province/territory: Nunavut
category: Climate Change Linkage (Jul 07/14)
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The Nunavut Climate Change Strategy released by the Government of Nunavut, Department of Environment (2003) does not explicitly relate activities to water. 

Other initiatives the Government is part of included the Nunavut Climate Change Centre (work in progress), Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network, Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit of Climate Change for North and South Baffin, and the Kivalliq and Kitikmeot Northern Strategy Round Table (Council of the Federation, 2007). 
Province/territory: Nunavut
category: Interbasin Transfers (Jul 07/14)
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The policy entitled Respecting the Prohibition of Bulk Water Removal from Major River Basins in Nunavut, released by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada in 2003 states, "The removal of freshwater in bulk quantities from the major drainage basins within Nunavut is prohibited. Any licenses submitted to the Minister authorizing bulk water removal will not be approved" (p. 3).

Bulk water removal is defined as any water transferred out of a river basin in any individual container greater than 40 litres in volume, or removal by any means that involves permanent out-of-basin transfer, whether it is by diversion (including pipeline, canal, tunnel, aqueduct, or channel), tanker or other mechanism (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2003, p. 3) 
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