The intent of the proposed Act is to establish a framework to drive innovation, create economic opportunities, sustain water infrastructure and conserve Ontario’s water.
The Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act was introduced by the Government and received first reading on May 18, 2010. The intent of the proposed Act is to establish a framework to drive innovation, create economic opportunities, sustain water infrastructure and conserve Ontario’s water. If passed, the Act will require new water sustainability plans for water, wastewater, and stormwater services. The plans will include asset management, financial planning, conservation, risk assessment, and water technology procurement components. Approval of the plans may incorporate public consultation and include certification by designated professions. The Act will also allow the government to set new performance standards which could include new conservation targets and water technology specifications. Service providers would submit annual reports on the achievement of the goals in their plans.

In recent years, municipalities have increased investment in drinking water and wastewater systems to safeguard public health and safety and environmental quality. Ontario municipalities spend approximately $1.5 billion per year on water and wastewater, and to meet current infrastructure gaps would need to spend approximately $1.2 billion more a year. Improved conservation and infrastructure planning for water and wastewater services will guide investment decisions and help make better use of existing infrastructure.

Below is a more detailed summary of the Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act as it relates to municipal services.

Part I:  Purpose

The purpose of the Act is to:

  • foster innovative water, wastewater, and stormwater technology;
  • create economic development opportunities in green sector jobs;
  • encourage the conservation of water resources; and
  • enable the minister to establish water conservation and other related targets.

Part II: Water Technology Acceleration Project

The Act establishes the Water Technology Acceleration Project corporation with a mandate to:
  • promote development of green tech water/wastewater sector in Ontario;
  • assist capacity building in the sector (e.g. supports R&D, demonstration projects, business opportunities); and
  • facilitate the exchange of ideas between government, universities, and private corporations.
  • The corporation can also be authorized by the minister to develop certification of green water technology.

Part III: Municipal Water Sustainability Plans and Targets

The Act requires sustainability plans for all:
  • water;
  • wastewater; and
  • stormwater service providers.
Plans would include the following components:
  • asset management;
  • financial plan;
  • water conservation;
  • risk assessment (including an assessment of risks posed by climate change); and
  • strategies for ensuring future service, considering new water technologies, and increase co-operation with other service providers;
 Municipal councils will approve the plans for services they provide. Prior to approving the plan:
  • the service provider can request any information it needs from a municipality, person, or entity;
  • the municipality must consult with the public; and
  • the minister may require certification from a professional with prescribed qualifications.
 The Minister may establish targets and performance indicators for the service providers:
  • targets may vary by region and municipal size;
  • providers will be required evaluate performance and report to the minister; and
  • performance reports can be made public
Where a service provider is not meeting the performance targets the minister may:
  • require an explanation why targets are not met;
  • invite municipality to explain how it will achieve the targets it is not meeting; or
  • direct amendments to the plan to incorporate strategy to meet its target.

Part IV Public Sector Requirements

The Act requires water conservation plans for all water utilities which would include:
  • a summary of annual water use;
  • a description of current and proposed activities to conserve water;
  • a forecast of expected results from conservation measures; and
  • a summary of progress achieved since implementing the plan
Municipalities may also be required to:
  • meet water conservation targets;
  • include water conservation as an evaluation criteria in procurement; and
  • coordinate plans with energy conservation and demand management plan.

Part V - Water Bills

This part enables regulations allowing the Province to prescribe standard information on water bills.

Part VI - Triennial Reports

The Act requires the minister to report on the content of the bill every three years. This includes the progress of municipalities in meeting the prescribed targets.

Schedule 2

Amends the Building Code Act to include water conservation standards which must be reviewed every five years.

Schedule 3

Amends the Capital Investment Plan Act, changing the mandate of the clean water agency to include:
  • providing financing building, operating water and sewage works; and
  • financing and promoting the development and commercialization of water technology.
Schedule 4

Amends the Green Energy Act 2009 to include:
  • water use in principles for guiding the construction and operation of facilities; and
  • the authority to issue directives relating to water, conservation, and technology