Canadian Water and Wastewater Association eBulletin

Ontario: Updating Water Quantity Management Framework

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Ontario is updating its water quantity management framework. The update will:

  • establish priorities of water use to be considered in water taking decisions;
  • replace rules governing permit decisions in high use watersheds with a new, more adaptive area-based approach to manage the cumulative effect of water takings in water quantity-stressed areas; and
  • make water taking data more accessible to the public to increase transparency and enhance water management.

As part of this initiative new regulations coming into force under the Ontario Water Resources Act will establish the following priorities for water use:

  1. highest priority category of water use, being
    • water used to protect the natural functions of the ecosystem as described in paragraph 1 of subsection (2),
    • water used to supply water for one or more drinking water systems; and
    • water used to support farm animal production and aquaculture.
  2. Second priority category of water use, being:
    • water used for the irrigation of agricultural crops, and
    • water used for on-farm washing activities.
  3. Third priority category of water use, being:
    • any water used for a purpose not mentioned in the first, second or fourth priority category, including any water used for an industrial or commercial purpose, including for watering golf courses.
  4. Fourth priority category of water use, being:
    • any water used for an aesthetic purpose.