The McGuinty government has adopted a blizzard of new and amended regulations this year. Since January, there have been 32 regulatory amendments or new regulations under the Environmental Protection Act; 2 under the Environmental Bill of Rights; 5 under the Environmental Assessment Act; 6 under the brand new Clean Water Act; 3 under the Ontario Water Resources Act; 5 under the Safe Drinking Water Act; and 1 under the Nutrient Management Act!
In addition, there have been significant changes to Ontario environmental statutes themselves. For example, Ontario Water Resources Act was substantially amended by the Safeguarding and Sustaining Ontario’s Water Act, especially in relation to permits to take water. Some of the changes are already in effect, such as narrowing the grandfathering of pre-1961 water-taking structures.
The rest of the amendments will come into force on a date to be proclaimed. These amendments will, among other things, increase the Director’s powers to require information, to eliminate grandfathered water takings and to require water conservation. This Act will also authorize Ontario to charge for the taking of water and to prevent bulk water transfers between watersheds, both things that are long overdue.