Ontario’s Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act

September 1, 2010 | Bryan J. Buttigieg

On May 18, 2010 the Ontario government introduced Bill 72, Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act. The Bill aims to encourage water conservation, strengthen sustainable municipal water planning and make Ontario a leader in developing and selling water technologies and services.

The Bill recognizes the business opportunities offered by the water technology sector.  Globally, that sector is valued at more than $400 billion while the Ontario sector generates $1.8 billion in sales annually. The Bill encourages new business opportunities in this sector of the economy while at the same time establishes mechanisms to enhance water conservation and water sustainability planning. In this way, the Bill has garnered considerable support from industry, academia and the environmental community.

Water Opportunities Act, 2010

Schedule 1 to the Bill consists of the Water Opportunities Act, 2010.  The first part of the Act sets out its purposes and gives the Minister of the Environment authority to establish targets in respect of the conservation of water and other matters the Minister considers advisable.

Water Technologies

Water Technology Acceleration Project, a corporation without share capital, is established in Part II of the Act.  Its objects are to:

  • Assist in promoting the development of Ontario water and wastewater sectors by increasing their capacity to develop, test, demonstrate and commercialize innovative technologies for the treatment and management of water and wastewater, and expand their business opportunities nationally and internationally;
  • Provide a forum for governments, the private sector and academia to exchange information on how to make Ontario a leader in the development and commercialization of innovative technologies for the treatment and management of water and wastewater;
  • Encourage collaboration in Ontario’s water and wastewater sectors; and
  • Assist in the development of certification, labelling and verification programs for water and wastewater technologies.

Bill 72 also amends the Capital Investment Plan Act, 1993 to revise the objects of the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) to include financing and promoting the development, testing, demonstration and commercialization of technologies for the treatment and management of water, wastewater and stormwater.

Water Sustainability

The Act requires certain municipal service providers to prepare, approve and submit to the Minister a municipal water sustainability plan for municipal water, wastewater and stormwater services. The government’s intention seems to be the integrated planning of water use and infrastructure at the municipal level.

The Minister may also establish performance indicators and performance targets for those services and direct that those services be evaluated relative to the applicable performance indicators and targets.

If targets are not met, the municipal service provider may be required to provide the Minister with information concerning its efforts to achieve the target and the reasons for its failure to do so.  The Minister may also ask the municipal service provider to amend its plan to incorporate strategies and steps to assist it in achieving the targets.

Water Conservation

Regulations may be made under the Act requiring public agencies to prepare water conservation plans, achieve water conservation targets and consider technologies and services that promote efficient use of water and reduce negative impacts on water resources when acquiring goods and services or making capital investments.

In addition, Bill 72 proposes a number of amendments to other legislation on the issue of water conservation:

  • The Building Code Act, 1999 is amended to require the Minister to initiate a review of the building code with reference to standards for water conservation at 5 year intervals;
  • The Green Energy Act, 2009 is amended to add principles relating to water and water use to the principles that guide the Government of Ontario in constructing, acquiring, operating and managing government facilities;
  • The power to issue directives under the Green Energy Act, 2009 is also expanded to include directives related to water use, water conservation and the adoption of technologies and services that promote the efficient use of water and reduce negative impacts on water resources; and
  • The Ontario Water Resources Act is amended to prohibit the sale or lease of appliances and products prescribed by regulation unless they meet certain efficiency standards and are labelled to confirm compliance with such standards.

Bill 72 was posted on the EBR Registry on May 18 for public review and comment.  Comments, which were to be received by July 17, are now being considered by the Ministry of the Environment.


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