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Regulation respecting the declaration of water withdrawals

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On December 13, 2005, the governors of the eight Great Lakes states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) and the premiers of the Canadian provinces of Québec and Ontario signed the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement. In order to implement this agreement within their respective territories, the signatories committed to, among other things, adopting the necessary legislative and regulatory measures. Québec followed up on this commitment by adopting An act to affirm the collective nature of water resources and provide for increased water resource protection (2009, c.21) in which subdivision 2 of Division VI directly concerns the implementation of this agreement. This subdivision applies solely to territory under the Agreement in Québec where the waters meet the St. Lawrence River upstream from Trois-Rivières.

With the signing of this agreement, the parties agreed to protect the waters of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River (Basin) under sustainable management for future generations. This begins with knowledge of the quantities of water withdrawn in Québec territory. The Regulation respecting the declaration of water withdrawals was thus adopted in August, 2009. By virtue of this regulation, the primary withdrawers whose water withdrawals total an average daily volume of 75,000 litres or more shall declare their withdrawals. This requirement applies to the territory of Québec in its entirety. However, the Regulation respecting the declaration of water withdrawals must be amended, as it does not include requirements specific to the territory of the Agreement, that is, the requirement to declare information relating to consumptive use, and the transfer and return of water.

The draft regulation to amend the Regulation respecting the declaration of water withdrawals will thus enable the collection of three types of water withdrawal declarations:

  • Annual general declaration: Already in force under the Regulation respecting the declaration of water withdrawals, it concerns all primary withdrawers of 75,000 litres or more per day, within Québec’s territory in its entirety. The declaration shall be reported every March 31 for volumes withdrawn in the previous year.

  • Annual declaration particular to the territory of the Agreement: Applies to primary withdrawers having a withdrawal capacity equal to or greater than 379,000 litres per day, and to all water withdrawals intended for a transfer. It shall complete the general declaration with the addition of volumes of consumptive use, transfers outside the basin, and return of water in cases of transfers of water. This declaration shall be required as of 2013 (March 31) for water withdrawals in all sectors of activities carried out for the months of 2012, with the exceptions of those in the agricultural and fisheries sectors, which shall be declared as of 2016 for the months of 2015.

  • Initial declaration within the territory of the Agreement: Applies also to primary withdrawers having a withdrawal capacity equal to or greater than 379,000 litres per day. As in the annual declaration, it relates to all withdrawal activities, including those in the agricultural and fisheries sectors. This declaration shall be required only once, and will concern authorised volumes or equipment capacities. This information shall be reported to the Ministère no later than March 31, 2012.

As you may recall, an electronic water withdrawals management system (GPE) was created in order to apply the Regulation respecting the declaration of water withdrawals. Since March 24, 2010, all water withdrawers have had access to the electronic system to declare their water withdrawals online. The means of reporting under the aforementioned new declaration requirements shall be the same as is currently in use, i.e., via secure electronic system accessible on the Internet.

New exclusions for water withdrawals that apply for the territory of Québec in its entirety shall also be brought forth by regulatory amendment. These exclusions apply to, among others, temporary withdrawals.

As a result, the adoption of this draft regulation will on the one hand, fulfill Québec’s commitment made by Québec in signing the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement to declare information, and on the other, to consolidate all the regulatory provisions in matters of declarations of water withdrawal activities under a single regulation.

The draft regulation was open for public consultation from January 26 to March 28, 2011. Comments received will be taken into account when the final version of the regulation is drafted.


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