envirolaw: Will Environmental Tribunal Enforce Public Trust in Water?

Will Environmental Tribunal Enforce Public Trust In Water?
by Dianne Saxe, Saxe Law Office, May 22 2013

via mondaq.com

Ecojustice has intervened in an appeal before Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal, hoping that they will enforce a public trust in water resources.

Nestle Canada Inc. (“Nestle”) runs Ontario’s largest water bottling operation. They pump groundwater from two different sets of wells in the Guelph area. Each well requires a Permit to Take Water (“PTTW”) from the Ministry of Environment (“MOE”) in order to operate.

Nestle recently had the PTTW for one of their wells renewed by the Ministry. The renewed permit contains new conditions that require reduced water takings during periods of summer drought1. Nestle appealed these conditions to the Environmental Review Tribunal (“ERT”).

Ecojustice intervened in the appeal on behalf of public interest groups and/or local citizens with a long history of opposing Nestle’s bottled water operations in the area – the Wellington Water Watchers (“WWW”) and the Council of Canadians (“CoC”).

While the Ministry of the Environment is the main party defending the conditions, they have agreed to a settlement of the appeal. Ecojustice is asking the ERT to continue the hearing, in order to prevent any settlement agreement from weakening the anti-drought conditions. Ecojustice argues that the principles of the public trust doctrine (“PTD”) provide an additional basis for upholding the original conditions.

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TorStar: Ontario only province to get an ‘A’ for drinking water: Ecojustice report

via: Toronto Star Published Nov 15 2011
Colin Perkel for The Canadian Press

TORONTO—More than a decade after the Walkerton disaster, much of Canada’s tap water remains at risk from contamination despite initial progress in front-line monitoring and treatment, a new report concludes.

In its third such report released Tuesday, the environmental group Ecojustice warns that while some jurisdictions have stepped up water protection efforts in the past five years, most have not done enough.

In 2000, seven people died and 2,500 fell ill in Walkerton, Ont., when the town’s poorly monitored drinking water was contaminated with E. coli from farm runoff.

The tragedy prompted most provinces to review and revamp their drinking water laws with mixed results — but that burst of enthusiasm has faded in recent years, according to the report.

“In many places, the health of Canadians is still at risk,” the report concludes.

“The lack of recent progress also seems to indicate that the impetus for improved water protection, spurred by events like Walkerton, is on the wane.”

The report called “Waterproof 3” finds only Ontario among the provinces worthy of an A grade for its water protection efforts, while Alberta lags with a C-.

The federal government gets an F for a record that continues to worsen, the report states.

In particular, the report criticizes Ottawa for a lack of progress on the legislative front, poor water quality for First Nations, and budget cuts it says will hurt Environment Canada’s ability to monitor the situation.

“The federal government is failing in almost every aspect of water protection, even though it should be setting rigorous standards,” the report says.

For the first time, the report has expanded to include source-water protection efforts — the idea that the best way to provide safe tap water is to ensure the water does not get contaminated in the first place.

The findings are not encouraging.

“Full-fledged source-water protection — a critical first step in achieving safe drinking water systems — has been implemented to some degree in only seven of 13 provinces and territories,” the report states.

“(It) is notably lacking in industry-heavy areas where the risk of contamination is high.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For more information, please contact:

Kimberly Shearon, communications coordinator | Ecojustice
604.685.5618 x 242 | 778.988.1530
kshearon@ecojustice.ca

Sutton Eaves, communications director | Ecojustice
778.829.3265
seaves@ecojustice.ca