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Prohibition of Bulk Water Removal

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Background Information - What does it all mean?

Inter-basin transfers or diversions broadly refer to large-scale or bulk removals of water by man-made diversions, such as canals, tanker ships or trucks, or pipelines. The water is not necessarily exported out of the province or country, but is transferred from its basin of origin. Water export refers to taking water and shipping it to other countries for profit, whether by tanker or pipeline, or by diverting rivers and building canals. However, it does not include small-scale water removal, such as water in small portable containers, water used in a product or bottled water.

Under the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act (IBWTA), Canada has protections in place to prohibit the bulk removal of water from boundary waters, such as the Great Lakes.  The prohibition is an environmental measure designed to preserve the integrity of boundary waters ecosystems.

The Transboundary Waters Protection Act

On May 13, 2010, the Minister of Foreign Affairs tabled an Act to Amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act (Transboundary Waters Protection Act), Bill C-26. The purpose of the bill is to strengthen the prohibition against the bulk removal of water outside of Canada.

The full text of the Act can be viewed on the Parliament of Canada Web site.

  • The Government of Canada is standing up for Canadians by protecting our water supply.
  • The Transboundary Waters Protection Act will protect Canada's water from bulk removal outside of Canada.
  • The bill creates new powers for inspection and enforcement and introduces tough new penalties for violations, including fines of up to $6 million for corporate violations.
  • Rivers and streams that cross the border will now fall under the same protection that was already in place for waters that straddle the border, like the Great Lakes.
  • The strengthened provisions found in this bill are complementary to existing regimes at both the federal and provincial level.  The Government will continue to work with provincial and territorial governments to ensure that Canadian freshwater is protected. 
  • This bill has strengthened enforcement provisions that provide new powers for inspections in order to verify compliance with the Act.  These new provisions will allow the Minister to designate persons to enforce the Act and gives these persons important inspection powers.

For more information, visit the departmental Web site of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

News Releases

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