A MAJOR STEP HAS BEEN TAKEN IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement
Québec City, July 8, 2011 – The ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs announces the promulgation of two draft regulations and the coming into force of several provisions of the Act to affirm the Collective Nature of Water Resources and Provide for Increased Water Resource Protection (“The Water Act”) that will enable Québec to meet its commitments under the Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement (“The Agreement”).
The first regulation deals with the authorization framework for projects entailing the transfer of water from the St. Lawrence River basin. This regulation aims to prohibit the transfer of water out of the basin and provides a framework for exceptions that exclusively relate to municipalities that lie on a watershed divide or that are located outside of the basin but fall within a regional county municipality that sits on both sides of the same divide. In the future, these municipalities will be required to meet specific authorization criteria if they intend to withdraw water from the basin in order to supply outside areas with drinking water. These criteria include returning wastewater to the basin, implementing conservation and efficient water use measures, demonstrating the absence of significant negative impacts on basin waters and their dependant natural resources, and establishing reasonable use.
The second regulation amends water withdrawal declaration rules. All entities operating an installation with a nominal withdrawal capacity of 379,000 or more litres of water per day within the territory covered by the Agreement will be required to produce an initial declaration of water withdrawals to establish a volume benchmark. Additionally, these entities will be required to submit an annual declaration of quantities of water consumed and returned to the St. Lawrence River basin. All withdrawals destined for transfer outside of the territory covered by the Agreement will also need to be declared. Under regulations in effect since 2009, annual declarations must be submitted for all water withdrawals in Québec of 75,000 litres or more per day, except for those made for domestic or agricultural use or for hydroelectric production. This requirement continues to apply.
The Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement and the Water Act
The main objectives of the Agreement as signed in 2005 by the Governors of the eight U.S. Great Lakes States and the Premiers of Québec and Ontario are to prohibit the transfer of water from this watershed and to establish an integrated system for managing the waters of this vast area. In particular, the Agreement exists to foster the sustainability of the resource by ensuring that water withdrawals are managed by taking into account their cumulative impact on basin waters and by establishing a strict framework for granting limited exceptions to the prohibition on transferring water out of the basin.
The Water Act, unanimously adopted by the National Assembly on June 11, 2009, confirms the legal status of water resources as part of our shared heritage and stipulates the responsibilities of the state as guardian of the resource on behalf of the population, as well as the rights and responsibilities of the community at large.
The regulations, Act and Agreement are posted on the Ministère’s web site at www.mddefp.gouv.qc.ca.
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