The Liberal Government’s decision to place a two year moratorium on new or expanded water-taking permits for water bottling companies appears to be an effort to punt the problem down the road until after the 2018 election, says Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott.
“Why did they pick two years? The answer is simple,” Mr. Arnott said. “There’s an emerging pattern where the Liberals are putting off tough decisions until after the election. They were elected to govern. Now it appears that they’re panicking because an election is coming, and they know they lack public support.”
Under the proposed regulations no company can apply for a new or expanded permit to take water for the purpose of bottling water until January 1, 2019. The proposed regulations would also reduce the length of the permit renewal applications from 10 years to a maximum of 5 years, as well as introduce mandatory reductions on water taking during times of drought.
During the moratorium, the Government says they will review existing rules for groundwater protection, undertake research to improve our understanding of groundwater, and review the fees charged to large volume water users.
“Over and over again, I’ve said that the approvals process for large volume water-taking permits needs to be based on hydrogeological studies, which prove that the quantity and quality of our groundwater will be protected for future generations,” Mr. Arnott pointed out. “These scientific studies need to take into account the future growth pressures that are imposed on our communities through the Liberals’ Places to Grow Act.”
Mr. Arnott added that there is considerable expertise on this issue in Wellington-Halton Hills.
“Recognizing that this process is now underway, I hope the Minister will reach out to the University of Guelph’s Centre for Applied Groundwater Research (G360). They are undertaking world-leading, collaborative scientific research on groundwater protection. Our Wellington County municipalities can also provide valuable input. Many individuals in our Riding will also want to provide thoughtful comments,” Mr. Arnott concluded. “My constituents are engaged in this issue and it won’t take them two years to respond.”