Holding Ponds and Protecting PEI Water

Guest Opinion by Edith Ling,

Women’s District Director of the National Farmers Union

May 17, 2017

The general public needs to be very concerned about the construction of holding ponds used to hold water for agricultural irrigation purposes. It appears to me that these holding ponds are a way around the 2002 moratorium placed on the drilling of high capacity wells in this province.

At a meeting with Department of Environment officials on March 29, 2017 to review the draft Water Act, the question was asked about how these ponds were going to be filled. The answer given on that day was that there would be one well (low capacity) allowed per pond. That seemed to be a reasonable answer.

The same question was asked of the Dept. of Environment official at the public meeting to consider the draft Water Act in Charlottetown on April 10, 2017. The information given at that meeting was there would be one well allowed per property identification number (PID) per pond.

This is a substantial difference. Many farmers have a number of parcels of land, each with a different identification number and we know water can be piped for great distances. It is easy to see that the plan is to use several wells to fill these holding ponds.
In a telephone call to the same Department of Environment official, Jim Young, a day or so later, he was asked why the change had been made. He replied that there were no changes made. When he was questioned as to why he had not mentioned the property identification number involvement at the March 29, 2017 meeting, his response was “You did not ask.”

This is a totally unacceptable answer from a public servant. It would appear that not all the information was shared at the March 29 meeting or indeed a change has been made.
It is difficult to understand what the difference would be between one high capacity well filling a pond or several low capacity wells doing the same job.

Either way, hundreds of thousands of gallons of precious water are being extracted.

Even more interesting is the fact that the highest pumping capacity for a low capacity well is 50 igpm (imperial gallons per minute) while the lowest pumping capacity for a high capacity well is just over 50 igpm. Both wells will require permits.

I realize that the matter of these holding ponds will be dealt with in the Regulations under the Water Act. Regulations can be changed by the stroke of a pen at any meeting of the cabinet.

The general public needs to be vigilant about this matter and ensure that these holding ponds are not an innovative way to circumvent the moratorium on high capacity wells for agricultural irrigation. We need to make sure that our water supply is protected and preserved for this and future generations.

NFU Presentation on PEI’s Draft Water Act

Presented by Edith Ling and Doug Campbell, April 10, 2017

The National Farmers Union (NFU) appreciates this opportunity to comment on the 2017 draft of the PEI Water Act. We will begin by addressing what we see as omissions, followed by concerns about wording and intent. Then we will conclude with an expression of our appreciation for some aspects of the draft which we find hopeful. Most of what we have to say is based on the NFU’s recommendations to the PEI Environmental Advisory Council on November 3, 2015.

What is Missing

For the NFU the first and most obvious omission is that there is no indication of intent to maintain a moratorium on high capacity wells. From our perspective and given the community outcry during the 2015-2016 consultations, this seems almost outrageous. For real future control on high capacity wells it is imperative that this be in the Act.

We expected that the Act would establish a permanent ban on fracking. This omission indicates to us a lack of understanding of the potential threat of fracking to the quantity and quality of PEI water. Islanders need to be assured that no future government would approve hydraulic fracturing as a natural gas extraction process within PEI’s jurisdiction. Continue reading

A Water Act for PEI – Submission by the NFU Region 1, District 1

Aside

The National Farmers Union, District 1, Region 1
Submission concerning The Development of the PEI Water Act
Presented to the PEI Environmental Advisory Council
November 3, 2015

The National Farmers Union (NFU) appreciates this opportunity to add our voice to many others
concerning the intent and content of the PEI Water Act. We compliment the PEI Environmental
Advisory Council for conducting an open process to receive the input of many groups and
individuals. It has been a great relief and a joy to hear Islanders from many diverse sectors expressing what we have promoted since our founding in 1969. These sectors include long-time associates such the environmental movement and social justice organizations, all of us inspired by the teachings of the Mi’kmaq people. Continue reading