Toronto. CELA today praised Ontario Environment Minister Dombrowsky’s release of the White Paper on Watershed-based Source Protection Planning.
“Source protection planning in Ontario is long overdue and is urgently needed for the protection of drinking water sources throughout Ontario,” stated Theresa McClenaghan, CELA counsel. CELA will be providing a detailed response to the white paper.
The white paper calls for public comment on components of proposed legislation that will make source protection planning mandatory across Ontario. Legislation will establish specific requirements for source protection planning, and deadlines for completion of source protection plans in each watershed. Everyone whose activities affect water sources, and who benefit from use of water sources must have a role in ensuring implementation of strong protection in each watershed. Oversight committees are proposed to include municipal, First nations, public health, agricultural, and public representatives, along with other stakeholders.
An important aspect of the white paper is the provision that for watersheds where a conservation authority is designated to lead the process, assessment reports (outlining a technical assessment of the status of the watershed and the scope and objectives of the water source protection plan) will be required to be submitted to the Minister over a two-year period.
CELA has been advocating the need for legislation to deal with source protection in the province since the Walkerton Inquiry. Ms. McClenaghan participated on the province’s Source Protection Advisory Committee, which released its report in April 2003, and now sits on the province’s Source Protection Implementation Committee, as well as the province’s Nutrient Management Advisory Committee.
The white paper also calls for public comment on new rules for water-taking in Ontario. In December, the government imposed a one-year moratorium on many types of new and expanded water-takings while developing these new rules. “The current approach to allowing water-takings in the province does not adequately protect the long-term sustainability of our water resources,” stated Ramani Nadarajah, CELA counsel.
CELA will participate in the review of Ontario’s water-taking regime with a view to ensuring that decisions are made with the necessary information to ensure both water quality and water quantity protection when water-taking permits are granted. New rules for water-takings must assist with understanding the cumulative impacts of water-takings for long-term sustainability and ecosystem health.
In December, the government announced that Ontario will begin imposing charges for removal of water from watersheds. The white paper asks the people of Ontario to comment on how the government should proceed with such charges. CELA has been calling for levies on water-takings for years. “CELA advocates use of water-taking charges to help finance the data collection, monitoring, planning and implementation of source protection on a watershed basis”, said Ms. McClenaghan.
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For further information, contact:
Theresa McClenaghan, CELA Counsel 416-960-2284 ext. 218
Paul Muldoon, CELA Counsel 416-960-2284 ext. 219
Ramani Nadarajah, CELA Counsel 416-960-2284 ext. 217