Ontario puts two-year hold on permits for new bottled water operations


TORONTO – Nestle will have to wait two years before it can even test a well it purchased in a fast-growing southern Ontario community which wanted the site for its drinking water supply.

The Ontario government has posted a proposed regulation that would impose a moratorium on issuing water taking permits for new or expanded operations that take groundwater to bottle and sell.

It would also stop issuing permits for pump tests that determine the quality and quantity of the well water available for bottling until the province completes a review of its regulations.

That means Nestle cannot test the water at the Middlebrook well it purchased last summer in Wellington Centre, 100 kilometres west of Toronto, which the township tried to buy for its drinking water needs.

The public has 45 days to comment on the proposed regulatory changes, which would also reduce the length of water taking permits for bottling companies from 10 years to a maximum of five years.

Ontario is not proposing any immediate increase in the $3.71 it charges for every million litres of water taken, but it is “examining a range of pricing mechanisms…to help protect and conserve water for future generations.”

Nestle bought the Middlebrook well as a backup for wells it owns in nearby Erin and Aberfoyle, where it operates a bottling plant that employs over 300 people.

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