Water bottling rules and moratorium in Ontario
Learn about the restrictions we’ve placed on new or increased groundwater takings for water bottling and the increased water taking fees to support groundwater research and management.
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The enhancements to Ontario’s water taking program came into effect and the temporary bottled water moratorium expired on April 1, 2021. Learn more about this decision and how we’re protecting water resources in Ontario.
Our government is taking action through our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan to protect lakes, waterways and groundwater supply in Ontario, now and in the future.
Ontarians can be confident that water resources in the province are protected by strong policies based on scientific evidence, and we continue to ensure we are prepared to adapt to changing circumstances. That’s why we thoroughly reviewed the province’s water taking policies, programs and science tools and held an independent third-party review of the findings on bottled water takings, which was completed by a panel of experts from Professional Geoscientists Ontario.
The independent third-party review validated our findings that water takings for bottling are managed sustainably in Ontario under existing legislation, regulation and guidance and are not impacting the sustainability of groundwater resources.
What we've done
Ontario has strengthened groundwater protection by:
- enhancing Ontario’s water taking program through regulatory amendments and providing new guidance to help permit holders to understand the new rules and how to operate within them
- giving host municipalities more direct input on allowing bottled water companies to withdraw new or increased amounts of groundwater in their communities
- charging a water bottling fee for water bottling companies that take groundwater, effective August 1, 2017
- hiring an experienced water resources consulting firm, BluMetric Environmental Inc., to assess water resources in the province, in addition to our own ongoing review and analysis of water taking in Ontario
- validating the ministry’s findings on water bottling through an independent third-party panel from the Professional Geoscientists Ontario
Who the moratorium affected
The moratorium and water bottling fee applied to every water bottling facility that takes groundwater and is required to have a permit under the Ontario Water Resources Act.
Existing water bottlers that were looking to renew or change their permits were subject to the stricter rules and the moratorium also prohibited water bottlers from increasing their existing takings.
In Ontario, water bottling facilities must apply for permits to take water from groundwater sources if the facility plans to take more than 50,000 litres of water on any day.
Groundwater is water held underground in the soil or in pores and crevices in rock. It supplies water in wells and some streams, lakes and wetlands.
Ontario is committed to protecting water resources for families now and for future generations. It’s even more important as our population grows, and during hot conditions and periods of drought, which are projected to become more frequent because of climate change.