Permits to take water
Get, renew or update a permit to take more than 50,000 litres of water per day from the environment.
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We strongly encourage online submissions for permits to take water through Public Secure where you can apply, track application progress and complete payments online.
Update: Enhancements to Ontario’s water taking program
On April 1, 2021, we moved forward with enhancements to the province’s water taking program as part of our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan commitment to ensure water resources in the province are protected and used sustainably. Learn more about the decision.
By law, you must have a permit if you plan to take 50,000+ litres of water in a day from the environment.
- a lake
- a stream
- a river
- a pond
Ontario’s Permit to Take Water program ensures water takings in Ontario are managed to the standards of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement.
Ontario regulates new or increased transfers of water between Great Lake watersheds.
Permits will not be issued for activities that would:
- negatively affect existing users
- negatively affect the environment
- remove water from a watershed that already has a high level of use
You don't need a permit if you intend to:
- take less than 50,000 litres of water per day
- take water for:
- domestic purposes (e.g., home gardens and lawns)
- firefighting or other emergency purposes
- wetland conservation
- a weir that was constructed prior to March 29, 2016
- passive and/or active in-stream diversions for construction purposes
- constructing or operating a dam associated with the production of electricity
- receive water supplied by someone with a valid Permit to Take Water (e.g., municipality, your neighbour)
For your activity to be exempted as a water taking and not require a permit, all conditions for the exemption must be met. Further information on conditions, clarifications and exemptions can be found in the water taking and transfer user guide and Ontario Regulation 387/04.
You can find a complete set of rules related to this activity in:
- Ontario Water Resources Act, Section 34 – 34.11
- Ontario Regulation 387/04 (Water Taking and Transfer)
Proposals for water taking are classified according to their anticipated risk to the environment.
There are 3 categories of permits:
- Category 1: water takings are anticipated to have a lower risk of causing an unacceptable environmental impact/interference
- Category 2: water takings are anticipated to having a higher potential of causing unacceptable environmental impact or interference
- Category 3: water takings are anticipated to have the highest potential of causing unacceptable environmental impactor interference
If your application is to propose water taking from more than one source (e.g., a well or a creek) or for more than one purpose (e.g., irrigation, food processing), you must classify your water taking activities to reflect the overall total taking amount and the most sensitive source.
EASR eligible water taking activities
If you engage in certain routine and lower risk activities, you must register your activity on the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR). If you register your activity on the EASR, you do not need to obtain a permit for your water taking activities.
To determine whether your water taking is required to be registered on the EASR, see the water taking user guide for environmental activity and sector registry or O. Reg. 63/16.
Common types of routine and low risk projects that may need to be registered:
- surface water takings that are more than 50,000 L/day and are for highway projects and/or transit projects purposes that meet specified criteria about the purpose, rate or location of the water taking
- construction site dewatering involving more than 50,000 L/day and less than or equal to 400,000 L/day of ground water, where the upper daily taking limit is applicable to:
- each area of influence in the construction site if the area of influences do not overlap with each other
- the combined area of influence in the construction site if the area of influences overlaps with each other
- seven-day pumping tests conducted in a 30-day period that take more than 50,000 L/day and less than or equal to 5,000,000 L/day
How to apply for a permit
Before you apply for a permit, you need to:
- Read the guide to the permit to take water application.
- Review the guide to scientific study (hydrogeological or hydroecological) for category 3 applications.
- Review the guide to surface water studies for category 3 (and 2) applications.
- Create a map of your water taking location.
- Create a Public Secure account and ministry account.
Learn more about setting up your Public Secure and ministry account.
Once you are logged into your ministry account, you can:
- start your application by entering your permit information
- attach your supporting documents
- make your payment
- submit your application
- track your application progress
If you have questions, you can contact the Client Services and Permissions Branch.
Other ways to apply
Public Secure provides 24/7 access to your ministry account. If you are experiencing technical difficulties with Public Secure, you are encouraged to contact the Client Services and Permissions Branch (CSPB) for assistance.
If you cannot submit using Public Secure, you can also submit your permit by email.
To submit your application, send an email to PTTW.Submission@ontario.ca with the following attachments:
- A complete permit to take water application form.
- Copies of all required supporting documents.
You will receive a confirmation email with the reference number for your application.
Do not submit payment information in your email. If your application requires payment, you must mail your payment to us.
For each category, there are different application fees to process, review and issue a permit:
- Category 1: $750
- Category 2: $750
- Category 3: $3,000
If you submit your application using Public Secure, you can pay online by either:
- credit card (Visa or Mastercard)
- Interac Online
- Visa Debit or Debit Mastercard
If you submit your application by email and payment is required, you must mail your payment to:
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Attention: Permit to Take Water, Director
Client Services and Permissions Branch
135 St. Clair Avenue West, 1st Floor
Toronto Ontario M4V 1P5
Include the following in your payment submission for your email application:
- The payment page of the application form with your credit card information. If you are paying using a certified cheque or money order, staple the cheque to the payment page.
- The reference number of the application, which you can find in your email confirmation.
If payment is not received, it may delay the review of your application.
You don't have to pay a fee, if you take water for:
- irrigation and frost protection for agriculture, including:
- vegetable crops
- fruit orchards
- tree and sod farms
- tender fruit
- aquaculture (fish farming)
The agriculture exemption does not apply to:
- food processing operations
- including vegetable and fruit canning, processing and pickling
Renew a permit
You should renew your permit at least 90 days prior to the expiry date of your permit.
- To renew a permit for the same water taking activities, you must complete a Category 1 application.
- If you will be increasing your previously permitted water taking, you must complete a Category 2 or 3 application, depending on the changes involved.
You need to report any change of address or other updated information to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks within 30 days of any such change Updates to your permit should be reported to the ministry using your ministry account accessed through Public Secure.
If you are reporting any change of ownership of the property to which a permit applies the person taking over the property must also include with their application:
- a signed letter from the previous Permit Holder confirming cancellation of previous permit
- a letter from the applicant explaining that the application is for a change in person or organization responsible for water taking
- proof of legal name of the applicant (if applicable)
- a copy of the old Permit to Take Water
Contact the ministry if you have further questions about updating your permit.
Ministry staff will review your application to ensure water takings are managed responsibly and consistently. To determine whether a permit should be issued, the ministry considers multiple factors, such as:
- aboriginal and treaty rights
- conformance of the water taking with the regulations
- ecosystem needs
- water availability
- intended use of the water taken
- potential impact to other water users
- source protection requirements
- comments from the public or affected water users
- other relevant matters related to the environment
In some cases, the ministry will post your application to the Environmental Registry for a 30-day public comment period to help make a decision.
Monitoring and reporting
You must collect and record the volumes of water taken daily and submit your records each year by March 31. This is required as part of the reporting obligations under Ontario Regulation 387/04 - Water Taking and Transfer.
If your permit was issued through the ministry’s online platform, you need to report your water takings in the Regulatory Self-Reporting System (RSRS) that can be accessed in your ministry account through Public Secure.
Read the guide to the online permit to take water application to learn how to access the RSRS and report water takings.
If your permit was not issued through the ministry’s online platform, you will continue to report your water takings in the Water Taking Reporting System (WTRS).
To report in the WTRS:
- go to the Water Taking Reporting System website
- log in using the password and user ID provided by the ministry
- record the amount of water you take each day for each source listed on your permit
- report this information to the ministry for each calendar year (January to December)
- report on or before March 31 for the previous year (January to December)
If you have questions related to WTRS, contact the WTRS Help Desk at:
For more information
For more information about environmental permissions, contact the Client Services and Permissions Branch: