The dry conditions this spring and early summer have caused problems for growers across Ontario. And while the supply of water is essential to any agricultural operation it can sometimes be overlooked, as many growers find themselves in a difficult situation when a dry season such as this comes around. That is why planning ahead to obtain a Permit to Take Water (PTTW) before the irrigation season starts can help mitigate stress and crop loss.
Farmers who are thinking about applying for a PTTW, should be aware that the application process is not something that can be done overnight. In fact, depending on the complexity of the water taking -- the number of existing water users in the area, proximity to a natural heritage feature such as streams or wetlands -- some applications can take up to a few months to complete. In addition to collecting field data, pooling information from different resources, and preparing documents, maps, and reports, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) also has to review the application. Upon receipt of the PTTW application, the MOECC has a period of up to 90 days within which to complete their review. In that case, even if the preparation of the supporting documents began in May, the irrigation season could be over by the time a PTTW is issued.
Yet there are some cases when the MOECC will issue a temporary PTTW for up to one or two years, provided that the Permit Holder develops a monitoring program and records water-taking volumes and water levels throughout the irrigation season. Still though, these permits would not be issued halfway through a season, because the collected data would only be half complete.
No matter which way you look at it, the need for water will always be there for any agricultural operation, especially fruit and vegetable crops. It is a good idea to start planning now to secure a Permit to Take Water, and be prepared for a dry year before it hits you! The Water Program administered at the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association has helped many growers successfully obtain PTTWs and comply with MOECC regulations. We are here to help!
Sasha Novakovic is the water specialist for OFVGA.