Construction Activity May Benefit from Proposed Changes to Water Taking

Posted by on Nov 23, 2020 in Press | 0 comments

The Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks (MECP) is proposing amendments to Ontario Regulation 63/16 to allow a greater number of “low risk, short-term water-taking activities” to register on the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR) instead of obtaining a Permit to Take Water (PTTW) or Environmental Compliance Approval.

In the Discussion Paper provided by the MECP they state, “These amendments include introducing low risk pumping tests with well understood impacts as a new prescribed activity for registration on the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry. In addition, the amendments would remove certain Environmental Activity and Sector Registry restrictions related to construction site dewatering and road construction activities (emphasis added) that do not further environmental outcomes and create undue burden for businesses and individuals.”

EASR Eligibility

To register on the EASR, pumping tests would need to meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Pumping tests must not be located on land that is used for mining exploration or mining activities;
  • Pumping tests must not be located in a contaminated area and must not cause the movement of contaminants from a source of contaminants across a property boundary;
  • Pumping tests must only take water from wells;
  • Pumping tests must not involve a transfer from a water basin located in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin, the Nelson Basin, the Hudson Bay Basin, or the Great Lakes watersheds.

Construction Activity in Ontario

The ministry is proposing modified eligibility criteria where the 400,000 L/day water-taking limit would only apply to groundwater taking not storm water. Additionally, this would apply to each individual pit and the corresponding area of influence in the construction site rather than the entire site. If there is overlap between the areas of influence related to the dewatering pits, the combined water taking from the overlapping areas of influence would be limited to a maximum of 400,000 L/day of groundwater to be eligible for EASR registration. If the total amount of water to be taken from each individual dewatering pit exceeds the water-taking limit, the water-taking activity would be ineligible for registration on the EASR Registry and a PTTW may be required.

Picture of earth moving activity

The MECP is proposing modified eligibility criteria where the 400,000 L/day water-taking limit would only apply to groundwater taking not storm water (Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay).

As a result, registrants would be required to register only once for construction dewatering activities at a given construction site for a given construction project. This means that multiple dewatering pits that are part of the same construction project at a given construction site could be included under one EASR registration, avoiding the registration of each dewatering pit separately.

As it relates to road construction and transit, the MECP states, “The proposed regulatory modifications would expand the eligibility criteria such that surface water taking activities related to the construction, maintenance or repair of public transit projects such as Light Rail Transit would be eligible for registration on the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry.”

More Environmental Information and Assistance

If water taking is typically part of your project activity, you may want to read the Discussion Paper and the Proposed Amendments (comment period closed November 20, 2020).   You can also contact Christopher Pare’ or contact me, and we will be happy to discuss these changes with you.

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