Media Release

Environment Ministry Restricts OMYA's Water-Taking

Jan 16 2004

Toronto. The Director of the Ministry of Environment has cancelled the controversial water-taking permit issued by former Minister Chris Stockwell to OMYA Canada Inc. In its place, the Director has issued a new permit that restricts the volume of water that may be taken by OMYA from the Tay River near Perth. The permit issued by Minister Stockwell had authorized the company to increase its water-taking up to 4,500 cubic metres per day from the Tay River. The new permit will instead limit OMYA's taking to 1,483 cubic metres of water per day and will be in place for six years.The Director’s decision regarding OMYA follows closely on the heels of the Ontario government's announcement in December 2003 that it would place a one year moratorium on the issuance of new or expanded water-taking permits for uses that remove water from watersheds. The moratorium is now in force under Ontario Regulation 434/03, and is intended to provide the Government with time to review and improve its water-taking permit program under the Ontario Water Resources Act.Ann German, a resident who owns a cottage on a lake that flows into the Tay River, had legally challenged Minister Stockwell's decision in an application for judicial review in the Divisional Court. Ms. German said, "I am thrilled with the Director's decision to cancel the old permit, which allowed a three fold increase in OMYA's water-taking." Ms. German also stated that since the old permit had been cancelled, she would withdraw her judicial review application as a result of the Director's decision. Ramani Nadarajah, counsel with the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), which represented Ms. German on the judicial review application, said, "The Ministry of Environment should be commended for these recent developments. The Director’s decision, and Minister Dombrowsky's commitment to review Ontario's water-taking program, are very positive steps towards effective water management." “At this time, it is unknown whether OMYA will appeal the Director’s decision to the Environmental Review Tribunal,” added CELA lawyer Richard Lindgren. “In any event, we look forward to participating in the review of Ontario’s water-taking regime to ensure the sustainability of surface water and groundwater resources across the province.” - 30 -For more information, please contact:Ann German: Tel: (416) 485-3979Ramani Nadarajah, Counsel, CELA: Tel: (416) 960-2284 ext. 217Richard Lindgren, Counsel, CELA: Tel: (613) 385-1686