The regulation respecting the charges payable for the use of water: why not charge according to actual usage of the resource?

Montreal, December 15, 2010. The brewing industry is disappointed to learn of yesterday’s announcement by the ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP) concerning the Regulation Respecting the Charges Payable for the Use of Water.

It is the brewing industry’s position that Quebec’s public policies need to ensure that some of the social costs incurred by water usage are recouped, while at the same time recognizing the value of this resource for our society. We therefore support the proposal to charge for the use of water. However, we would like charges for the resource to be based on actual consumption. Consequently, we deplore the fact that the Regulation draws absolutely no distinction between different types of water usage within a particular company or industry.

The Regulation simply categorizes industries without any regard for their actual usage of the resource, whichever charge rate is applied. Specifically, the Regulation has established a top-tier rate of $70 for each million litres of water used (0.07 $/m³), directed at industries identified by the government as using water entirely for commercial purposes, in other words in their end-products. A second-tier rate, which is 28 times lower than the top rate, has been established at $2.50 for each million litres of water used (0.0025 $/m³) and applies to all other economic sectors.

The brewing industry is therefore wrongly identified by the Regulation as being subject to the top-tier rate. Water is clearly one of the most important basic resources in beer production. Nevertheless, the volume of water also used in manufacturing and washing refillable bottles is around 3 to 4 times greater than that contained in the bottles themselves. Consequently, over 75% of the water used by the brewing industry is returned to the ecosystem after being treated. According to the new Regulation, the entire amount of water used, whether or not it is returned to the ecosystem, will be charged at a rate as though it had been bottled. The method for charging rates that the government has chosen does not properly take into account the responsible use of water within a company and, in addition, ignores the return to the ecosystem of water which meets all current quality standards.


Moreover, the industry’s use of refillable bottles – which are deposit refunded, washed and reused on average more than ten times – produces an outstanding level of environmental performance compared to other beverage containers. With its decision to proceed with a method for charging rates that does not take into account the actual usage of water, the government has managed to devalue a container considered by environmental experts to be one of the most ecologically sound in existence. Charging according to actual usage would, however, have been a much fairer alternative that could easily have been implemented. And it would still have placed a high value on water – a resource that is so dear to the hearts and minds of Quebecers.

About the Quebec Brewers Association

Founded in 1943, the Quebec Brewers Association (QBA) represents its members, the Labatt Brewing Company and Molson Coors, on a variety of issues affecting the brewing industry, making it the voice of the industry in Quebec.

The beer industry is directly responsible for providing employment to almost 5,000 Quebecers and, through its support for sports and cultural activities, is recognized as one of the leading corporate citizens in the province. The QBA and its members are also concerned with responsible drinking, the environment and recycling.

About the Association des microbrasseries du Québec

The Association des microbrasseries du Québec was founded in 1990. It represents thirty SMB breweries established throughout Quebec which produce more than 90% of Quebec’s microbrewery beers, with a market share of 6.5% in 2009. With this market share, the microbreweries create around 16% of the industry’s jobs, contributing to the development of their regions’ prosperity in the food and tourism industries. The AMBQ’s members are actively involved in activities that promote the protection of the environment.

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Philippe Batani, ABQ, (514) 284-9199

Jean-Pierre Tremblay, AMBQ, (514) 543-9501

Martin Geoffroy, (514) 298-0120