The Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement (the “Agreement”) between Québec and Ontario and the American States of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin was entered into on December 13, 2005, . In 2009, Quebec enacted the Act to affirm the collective nature of water resources and provide for increase water resource protection was adopted by the National Assembly for the purpose namely of implementing this Agreement.
As regulatory provisions are required to complete the legislative provisions introduced by this Act, the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Pierre Arcand, tabled The Draft Regulation to amend the Regulation respecting the declaration of water withdrawals (the “Draft Regulation”). See Gazette Officielle du Québec on January 26, 2011. Gazette Officielle due Quebec
The Draft Regulation specifies the standards applicable to the declaration of water withdrawals which will be used to establish the reference volumes of water necessary to implement the Agreement. It also sets the standards for the annual declaration of water withdrawals in the territory of the St. Lawrence River Basin within Quebec which reach or exceed a volume of 379 000 liters per day (the “Threshold”). Persons who withdraw water in excess of the Threshold will be required to have the quantities of water consumed estimated by a professional (i.e. a professional within the meaning of the Québec Professional Code). This estimate is required only once in order to establish the reference volumes of water involved.
The Draft Regulation provides that certain water withdrawals will be exempted. This would be the case for (1) withdrawals used for the production of hydroelectric power by means of run-of-river works or facilities, and (2) withdrawals by means of works used for the impounding of water (other than a dam) such as a pond or a basin having no hydraulic interconnection with groundwater (unless the pond or basin is supplied by means of a surface water drainage system.
The Draft Regulation provides that by no later than March 31, 2012, a withdrawer that withdraws water from the St. Lawrence River Basin from a withdrawal site equal to or greater than 379 000 liters must, in order to enable the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks to determine the reference volumes of water for the implementation of the Agreement, send to the Minister a declaration on existing withdrawals containing the following information:
- The withdrawer’s name, address, telephone number and, where applicable, its Québec business number;
- The withdrawal sites involved, identified by geo-referenced data;
- The name of the lake or watercourse from which water is withdrawn;
- The origin of the surface water or groundwater withdrawn;
- Whether or not measuring equipment is used and the type of equipment, where applicable;
- The class of industrial or commercial activities for which the withdrawals are made (according to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS);
- Where the withdrawals are for multiple classes of industrial or commercial activities, the volume of water, in percentage or cubic meters, broken down per class;
- The authorized daily water withdrawal volumes according to the certificate of authorization, authorization or documents that are part thereof in the cases set forth by the Draft Regulation;
- The volumes of water corresponding to the withdrawal rated capacity of the works or facility for which no certificate of authorization or authorization was issued; where the rated capacities of the components of works or facilities are different one another, the declaration must indicate the lowest rated capacity and identify the component used to establish the rated capacity;
- The volume of water consumed within the St. Lawrence River Basin out of the volumes of water withdrawn from the Basin that have been declared;
- The volume of water transferred out of the St. Lawrence River Basin out of the volumes of water withdrawn from the Basin that have been declared in the manner set forth in the Draft Regulation;
- The volumes of water consumed out of the Basin out of the volumes declared to have been transferred out of the Basin.
The Draft Regulation further provides for the obligation to submit an annual declaration to the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, for the preceding year, for those whose works or facilities have a withdrawal rated capacity of 379 000 liters or more per day containing the information prescribed by the regulation.
The Draft Regulation, that follows the tabling last November of the Draft Regulation respecting the framework for authorization of certain projects to transfer water out of the St. Lawrence River Basin, is presently undergoing the prescribed 60 day consultation period and can be reviewed at: http://www.mddep.gouv.qc.ca/eau/prelevements/reglement2011.pdf