In Ontario, anyone who takes more than 50,000 litres of water a day from a lake, river, stream or groundwater source, must obtain a Permit to Take Water (PTTW) from the ministry (with a few exceptions). These permits help to ensure the conservation, protection, management and sustainable use of Ontario’s water.
Ontario’s Water Taking Regulation (O. Reg. 387/04) helps to ensure fair sharing of our water resources and prevent interferences among water users. Permits are not issued to assign rights to water or to establish priorities on water use.
O. Reg. 387/04 sets out criteria that the ministry must consider when assessing an application for a PTTW. A permit will not be issued if the ministry determines that the proposed water taking will adversely impact existing users or the environment.
When a PTTW is issued, it comes with terms and conditions that the permit holder must follow strictly when actually conducting water-taking activities.
Water taking applicants are required to classify their applications into one of three categories, based on the proposed water taking’s anticipated risk to existing users and the environment. Category 1 applications are unlikely to pose adverse impacts, while Category 2 and 3 applications have a greater potential to cause adverse environmental impact or interference. Category 2 and 3 applications are subject to additional application requirements and greater scrutiny by the ministry.
The ministry evaluates each proposed water taking to ensure it meets the principles of the PTTW program including:
Applicants must also submit a document that outlines the water conservation measures and practices that they have undertaken, or will be undertaking, for the duration of the permit. By using water more efficiently, every permit holder helps ensure a sustainable supply of water for the future.
In some cases, the ministry is required to post permit applications on the Environmental Registry, for public comment*. When an application is posted on the Registry, the ministry notifies all affected municipalities and conservation authorities.
*Applications for irrigation of agricultural crops; takings of less than one year; or takings that are related to an approved environmental assessment (or similar public process) are not required to be posted to the Registry.