Water is essential for all life.
We are blessed in Ontario with lots of fresh water — over 250,000 lakes, rivers and streams. Our province borders on four Great Lakes. We have rich groundwater resources.
Yet, climate change is already stressing our water, and those stresses will grow as climate change becomes increasingly severe.
Water security must be top of mind. We must protect our water as the essential and finite resource it is.
To protect water, Ontario Greens will both crush climate pollution and fight water waste and water pollution. Key metrics for sustainable water will include:
- Percentage of the population with safe drinking water.
- Potable water use.
- Level of water pollution.
- Our resilience to floods.
- Healthy native fish populations.
- Percentage wastewater receiving tertiary treatment.
- Percentage untreated stormwater reaching surface water.
Clean up water
- Restore, enhance and expand wetlands and green infrastructure to clean stormwater, re-charge the water table and reduce flooding.
- Restore provincial funding for source water protection under the Clean Water Act, and expand drinking water source protection to northern, remote and Indigenous communities.
- Keep pollution out of water by adopting and enforcing standards for major sources and pollutants, including:
- Combined sewer overflows.
- Persistent toxic substances from industry and consumers.
- Manure, fertilizers and pesticides from agriculture and cities.
- Road salt.
- Plastics, microbeads and microfibres.
- Require water utilities to replace all lead service lines.
- Make lead in the water system a mandatory component of every home inspection, and mandatory disclosure at the time of sale or rental.
Support a First Nations Water Authority to cooperatively own and operate their own water and wastewater utilities.
Stop depleting water
- Update the system of permits for private water-taking, such as those currently held by water-bottling companies.
- Ban production and sale of water in single-use disposable bottles.
- Stop industrial water extraction, e.g. for water bottling or gravel production, that lowers underground water levels.
- Ban bulk removal of water from a watershed.
Safe drinking water for all
- Extend drinking water source protection to communities left out of current protections and to certain non-municipal drinking water systems.
- Encourage public water fountains.
- Update drinking water standards for lead and tritium.
- Support a First Nations Water Authority to cooperatively own and operate their own water and wastewater utilities.
Wasting water worsens climate pollution.
One way we can reduce water waste is to increase the water and energy efficiency of home appliances.
Stop wasting water
Wasting water worsens climate pollution because providing people with water and sewers consumes a huge amount of energy. To reduce water waste, we will:
- Collect the true cost pricing of water, wastewater and stormwater from households, businesses and institutions.
Help low-income households through conservation upgrades that reduce their water consumption, and therefore their water bills, plus financial support until their upgrades are in place.
- Add water usage to reporting obligations for large buildings and the public sector.
- Set standards to increase the water and energy efficiency of appliances, such as toilets and washing machines
- Require multi-unit residential and commercial buildings to install water meters.
- Incentivize water reuse, such as greywater systems in households.
- Set maximum limits on water loss from water mains, and incent municipalities to detect and repair leaks.
Ontario Greens will ensure First Nations have a say in water takings that affect their communities.
Protect lakes, rivers and fish
- Fix the Permit to Take Water process to protect water for people and wildlife.
- Stop water takings that damage fish and fish habitat.
- Limit cumulative water takings.
- Uphold treaty rights and ensure First Nations have a say in water takings that affect their communities.
- Monitor and control invasive species, such as Asian Carp.
- Work with Indigenous Peoples and the federal government to establish National Marine Conservation Areas in Hudson and James Bays, and in the Great Lakes.
- Reinstate funding for the ground-breaking research at the Experimental Lakes Area.
- Implement a plan for cutting phosphorus entering Lake Simcoe from 131 tonnes in 2017 to 44 tonnes by 2026.
- Mandate vegetated setbacks along lakes, rivers, flood plains and drains.
- Protect lakes from fossil fuel pollution by rapidly phasing out the use of two stroke marine engines that don’t meet current federal emission standards.
Restore the leadership role of Conservation Authorities.
Give them the legal power and resources they need to protect and restore the natural water cycle in their watersheds.
Reduce flood risk
- Protect and restore watersheds, lakes and rivers.
- Restore the leadership role of Conservation Authorities, and give them the legal power and resources they need to protect and restore the natural water cycle in their watersheds.
- Look for opportunities to give stronger legal rights to critical natural ecosystems like rivers and those who seek to protect them.
- Protect and restore natural shorelines.
- Plant trees.
- Protect and restore natural areas, parks and public green space that can absorb stormwater in extreme weather.
- Collaborate with municipalities to track and increase the percentage of green and permeable surfaces in urban areas.
- Update flood plain maps and make them public and easily accessible.
- Make disclosure of flood risk mandatory when a property is rented or sold.
- Include flood risk and risk reduction options in home inspection reports.
- Begin an honest conversation with Ontarians about high-flood-risk areas, to clarify expectations about government responsibilities when floods recur.
- For low-income tenants in basement apartments, subsidize a flood insurance program coupled with flood risk reduction measures.
Read more on this at Land and Nature.