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Ontario: 3 secrets of irrigation water taking permits revealed

by Robert Hijmans
Published: Last Updated on
Agriculture Farming News & Updates

Do you supplement your Ontario greenhouse irrigation water supply with well, canal, or lake water in the summer months? If so, you need a Permit to Take Water.

1. If you irrigate from any water source in Ontario, you need a Permit To Take Water (PTTW) from the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks (MECP). 

All water sources require a PTTW: ponds, lakes, Great Lakes, streams, creeks, ditches, wetlands, springs, and wells. Whether your water source is large or small, you need a PTTW.


The only exception is for irrigation takings of less than 50,000L per day. That’s approximately ½ acre with 1 inch of water. So if you have a very small irrigated area, stay below the 50,000L limit every day, keep good water volume records, and don’t impact your neighbors or the natural environment, then you don’t need a PTTW.

2. A PTTW is the best way to protect your interests in using that water supply.

To get a PTTW, you need to prove that your water taking will not impact neighbors or the natural environment. For most water sources, you will need to hire a professional water consultant to do a study of your water taking and its impacts.

Irrigating without a PTTW can result in fines, charges, and having your equipment (pumps) confiscated in the middle of the growing season.


Having a PTTW means your water taking is legal and recognized by the MECP as a legitimate water user.


Most PTTW expire in 5 or 10 years, so make sure you renew your PTTWs before they expire! Renewing a PTTW is much easier and less costly than applying for a new PTTW.


3. A PTTW for agricultural irrigation does not have an application fee

However, there are generally costs to hire a consultant to study your water taking and write a report showing that your water taking doesn’t impact neighbors or the natural environment.

Start your PTTW application process well in advance of the growing season. Apply now (2022) for the PTTWs for the water sources you’ll be using in 2023. Getting a PTTW is a time-consuming process, typically many months. A consultant’s study will typically take a few months, and the application approval process also takes a few months.

A list of potential consultants can be found on; http://omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/consultants.htm

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