OFA provides comments on the proposed implementation of updates to Ontario’s Water Quantity Management Framework. Due to the nature of agriculture in Ontario, and the fact that farmers interact intimately with the natural environment on a daily basis, OFA believes an agricultural perspective to water resources management is critical. OFA believes that OMAFRA and agricultural water users in the area should be involved in the preliminary assessment, along with the input from local and provincial agricultural organizations. OFA recommends that the suggestion that “the ministry may create a collaborative group, such as a committee of local water users, to provide advice during the development of the strategy” be changed to “the ministry MUST create a collaborative group…”. OFA is strongly in favour with aligning a Water Taking Management Strategy with other Provincial policies and programs.
OFA is very appreciative of the continued recognition of the water needs of livestock, poultry, and aquaculture, and their placement within Priority 1 Water Use. However, we do have concerns regarding industrial and commercial water users on municipal water systems also being considered a Priority 1. Regarding proposed amendments to the regulations, OFA suggests rearranging the priority list with water used to supply water for one or more drinking water systems should be highest, followed by water used to support farm animal production and aquaculture, and water used to the natural functions of the ecosystem. OFA has grave concerns regarding information dealing with Permits to Take Water (PTTW) and OFA believes that the information currently posted by the MECP jeopardizes Ontario’s food security and food safety.