TORONTO—Ontario is proposing to charge water-bottling companies a little over $500 per million litres, up from the current fee of just a few dollars.
Public outcry erupted last year over the small fee of $3.71 that the province currently charges for every million litres on all water-taking permits.
A proposal to increase the charge to $503.71 per million litres for water-bottling companies who take from groundwater was posted Jan. 18 on the regulatory registry for a mandatory 60-day comment period.
The government is still reviewing other types of water-taking permits, such as ones for industrial purposes.
The current charge of $3.71 per million litres of water is on top of a fee of $750 for low- or medium-risk water takings, or $3,000 for those considered a high risk to cause an adverse environmental impact.
The province has already proposed new restrictions for bottled water companies who want to renew permits and it has imposed a two-year moratorium on permits for new or expanded bottled water operations after Nestle purchased a well that the township of Centre Wellington wanted for its growing community.
The bottled water giant has existing permits to take up to 3.6 million litres a day from its well in Aberfoyle, Ont., where it has a bottling plant, and another 1.1 million litres a day from a well in nearby Erin, Ont.
Nestle Waters Canada has said it wants to partner with Centre Wellington on the well the company purchased.
Nestle has also previously said that it would be prepared to pay more for permits if rates were increased, but only if all companies with water-taking permits face the higher fees.
But critics say simply charging companies more won’t protect the water, while some environmentalists are pushing for a total ban on giving permits to companies that remove the water for bottling.
British Columbia charges $2.50 for every million litres, while Quebec charges $70.
From The Canadian Press