Montreal, June 8, 2023 – The Centre québécois du droit de l’environnement (CQDE) and Eau Secours hail yesterday’s adoption of the Act to establish the Blue Fund and amend other provisions as an important step towards more
transparent water management in Quebec, following several years of dialogue and mobilization. The two organizations will continue to keep a close eye on the ongoing study of the two regulations that could implement this principle.

As a reminder, since 2018, the two organizations have been denouncing the secrecy maintained over water withdrawals in Quebec, as well as the lack of transparency concerning the royalties collected by the province.

The Act responds in part to these concerns. It establishes the Blue Fund, which provides for the payment of royalties collected on water withdrawals throughout the province. The Act also recognizes, through the preliminary provision of the Environment Quality Act (EQA), the public nature of information on water withdrawals and the importance of water. Finally, it enables the Minister of the Environment to regulate the use of water from a water supply system and the supply, sale, or distribution of bottled water.

The CQDE is particularly pleased to note that some of its recommendations in parliamentary committee have been incorporated into the legislation by MNAs.

“Providing for the public nature of information in a law, rather than in a regulation as originally intended, gives greater protection to the accessibility of information. This is what we were asking for. From now on, any questioning of this principle concerning the common good of water will have to go through a vote of the National Assembly,” explains CQDE lawyer Merlin Voghel.

Despite the adoption of the Act, the CQDE and Eau secours wish to stress that the Act is not the end of the road to comprehensive protection of Québec’s water. Rather, both regulations on the declaration of water withdrawals and on royalties will serve to implement the provisions applicable to water withdrawals. These two regulations are currently being studied by the government, and both organizations have submitted their comments as part of the consultation process.

“The bill adopted today is good news, but we reiterate how essential it is for Eau Secours that the pair of upcoming regulations include the obligation to accurately declare withdrawals for all users. Responsible, integrated water management in Quebec depends on it,” specifies Rébecca Pétrin, Executive Director of Eau Secours.

“Despite our satisfaction at seeing the Act passed, we hope that the government will be just as attentive to regulatory issues. If they fail to follow many of our organizations’ recommendations, the proposed regulations will miss their target in terms of transparency and water protection,” assert the two organizations.

– 30 –