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On January 18, 2017 the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (“Ministry”) posted on the Environmental Registry for a 60 day review and comment period a regulation proposing a regulatory charge on water bottling facilities.

The proposed charge would apply to water bottling facilities taking groundwater in accordance with a permit to take water issued under the provisions of the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA). The purpose of the charge is to assist in the financing of activities and programs to more effectively manage groundwater takings by water bottlers.

The OWRA gives the Ministry the authority to establish charges and recover the costs of provincial activities relating to promoting the conservation, protection and management of water in Ontario and fostering its efficient and sustainable use.

The Ministry proposes a charge of five hundred dollars ($500) per million litres to the total amount of groundwater that a water bottling facility uses in a calendar year. If the facility also uses groundwater to produce products other than bottled water, such as soft drinks and beer, the charge would only be applied to the amount of water only used to produce bottled water.

This charge would not apply to any water bottling facility obtaining their water from a municipal drinking water system.

This charge is in addition to the existing water charge under O.Reg. 450/07 that applies to phase 1 industrial or commercial water uses (high consumption). Under O.Reg. 450/07 phase 1 users are required to pay $3.71 per million litres of water used annually. Phase 1 users are facilities that use a significant amount of water in their production that is not returned to the local watershed.

The Ministry is seeking input from the public as to whether the charge should be implemented and whether the regulatory charge should be reviewed every five years.

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