Exempting dams from requiring a permit to take water
O. Reg. 387/04: Water Taking and Transfer
Bill or Act:
Ontario Water Resources Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.40
Summary of Proposal:
We are proposing to streamline provincial approvals for dam owners by removing the need for certain types of dams to obtain a permit to take water. Our government will continue to regulate the construction and alteration of dams under the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act, and in some cases the Class Environmental Assessment process, so that we can continue to protect lakes, rivers and waterways in Ontario.
Proposed exemption for dams
We are proposing to amend the Water Taking and Transfer Regulation (Ontario Regulation 387/04) under the Ontario Water Resources Act to remove the requirement for certain types of dams to obtain a permit to take water for water takings that exceed 50,000 litres of water on any day, with limited exceptions:
• Dams for mine tailings - tailings dams are used to store the waste by-products (i.e. tailings) of mining operations
• Dam construction, dewatering of, alteration or repair projects where there is groundwater dewatering involved (groundwater dewatering is the drawing down of the groundwater table to allow for dry conditions in excavated areas during construction)
Dams for mine tailings would continue to require a longer-term operational phase permit to take water.
Dam construction, alteration or repair projects where groundwater dewatering is involved would continue to require a shorter-term construction phase permit to take water or registration on the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR).
Construction phase permits to take water are currently issued for dam construction, repair and alteration projects to monitor and mitigate the potential impacts of removing groundwater for construction purposes and the quality of water discharged back to the environment. Registration on EASR applies where construction involves groundwater dewatering of less than 400,000 litres per day.
The proposed change will:
• remove the regulatory burden associated with permits to take water
• provide some cost savings for dam owners and operators
The province will continue to maintain oversight of the construction of new dams and alterations to existing dams through the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act and, in some cases, Class Environmental Assessment process, to continue to provide protection for lakes, rivers and waterways in Ontario.
The proposed regulatory amendment would take effect on January 1, 2021.
Minister's regulation revoking permits to take water
The Ontario Water Resources Act gives the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks the authority to specify a date by regulation when a permit or class of permits are deemed to be revoked. This authority can be exercised where a water taking or a class of water takings is exempted from the requirement to obtain a permit to take water.
If the proposed exemption of dams from permit requirements is approved, the Minister would use this regulation-making authority to create a new regulation that would revoke all existing permits held by dam owners or operators. The revoking regulation would take effect 30 days from the date amendments to the Water Taking and Transfer Regulation (Ontario Regulation 387/04) are approved and filed. This would exempt dams from requiring a permit to take water.
October 6, 2020
Comments Due Date:
November 20, 2020