As of January 1, Quebec water consumption data has been made publicly available on the Ministry of the Environment’s website for the first time. This information comes as the province also raises some water-taking fees.
According to initial data based on 2022 usage, municipalities are proving to be the largest consumers of water, as businesses and homes are connected to these water supplies.
Montreal topped the list in terms of consumption by area.
After years of environmental advocacy organizations pushing for transparency, the law establishing the Blue Fund and amending other legislative provisions (Bill 20) was adopted by the National Assembly in June 2023.
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“Transparency is a crucial element in protecting water which is part of our common heritage. Facilitated access to data is essential for informed citizen participation in public debates,” announced Merlin Voghel, lawyer at the Centre québécois du droit de l’environnement, known as CQDE.
The Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques water consumption data reveals that aluminum plants and paper mills are among the largest industrial users of water, but CQDE noted that the new law only collects data from approximately 1.5% of the 21,000 companies carrying out activities covered by the regulations.
“We see a glaring need to immediately increase our knowledge of water withdrawals by businesses in Quebec. We encourage the ministry to use its powers to obtain a fairer picture of the situation, without being satisfied with data from the largest samplers,” explained Voghel in a statement.
Other elements of the new regulation will see increased fees for Quebec water bottling companies, which will now pay $500 per million litres instead of $70.
Water used for the manufacture of products such as pesticides, fertilizers, or for use in oil and gas extraction will increase to $150 per million litres.
The regulation will also lower the sampling threshold from which a sampler must declare samples and pay a fee. That threshold will drop to 50,000 litres per sampling day, down from 75,000 litres.