Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2 new project regulations on water resources management in Québec


The Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks has published 2 new project regulations.

One is to amend the Regulation respecting the application of section 32 of the Environment Quality Act, the Groundwater Catchment Regulation and the Regulation respecting waste water disposal systems for isolated dwellings. According to the introductory text, the main purpose for these amendments is to relax regulatory controls on businesses and natural resources exploitation:

«The proposed amendments would reduce the administrative requirements related to certain waterworks and sewer projects having little environmental impact. (...) Private institutions, businesses and industries, that own such systems, would also benefit from the proposed amendments since they would no longer be required to obtain a prior authorization to carry out certain water or sewer main replacement work. In addition, enterprises that carry out forest management, mining exploration, transportation or dam work and that must set up temporary industrial camps of 80 persons or fewer would no longer be required to submit plans and specifications to the Minister and obtain the Minister’s authorization before installing waterworks and sewer systems.»

The other projected regulation propose a framework for the authorization of certain projects to transfer water out of the St. Lawrence River Basin. After a very quick preliminary review, one question that can be raised on this regulation project pertains to the limits on access to information regarding the transfer projects (see sections 4 and 5 in fine). For example, why should access be denied to a narrative description explaining why no alternative reasonably accessible supply source is capable of meeting drinking water needs? Or why deny access to a narrative description explaining why the water transfer is necessary?

Could the transparency of the process under the Ontario regulation for transfers outside the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Basin be a source of inspiration? The website set up with respect to one such transfer for the York region provides a whealth of information on all aspects of the projected transfer.

The contacts for comments on the project regulations are provided both on the Ministry's website and in the texts published in the Gazette Officielle.

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