In a small step in the right direction, Ontario will begin charging industrial and commercial water users for the ground and surface water that they take, under Ontario regulation 450/07, Charges for Industrial and Commercial Water Users.
In the first phase, water-taking fees will only apply to large industries that use at least fifty thousand litres of day and incorporate water into a product, such as water bottlers, beverage manufacturers, ready mix concrete manufacturers, fruit and vegetable canneries, and other manufacturers.
By June 30th 2008, all such facilities must file reports with the Director that will allow the government to track how much water is being taken by each user. Waterworks owners, including municipalities, must file water supply reports by March 31st in 2008 and each subsequent year identifying their major customers.
With all this data, the Director will prepare a list of facilities required to pay for their water. In 2009, such facilities will start paying the tiny sum of three $ per million litres of water. According to the regulation, the fund is simply to recover a portion of the costs the government of Ontario incurs in administering the Ontario Water Resources Act and other statutes “for the purpose of promoting the conservation, protection and management of Ontario waters and their efficient and sustainable use.” This tiny fee shouldn’t make much of a dent on the $1+ price of a bottle of water, but it may go up with time.