February 1st, 2014

The concerns about lifting a ban on high capacity wells keeps pouring into our public forums.  The papers are full of excellent letters practically each day.   It would seem incredibly un-smart if a government didn’t pay attention to the tenor of public opinion as exemplified in our dear GuardianJournal-Pioneer,and Graphics.  Unfortunately, as with Plan B, government appears either not paying attention to this legitimate mode of public communication**,  or purposing downplaying people’s opinions.
**in what seemed like a bit of a Sarah Palin moment, my MLA admitted last year that she often didn’t read the paper.

Your letters definitely get the *public* thinking.

The Guardian

The Eastern (and West Prince) Graphic
The Journal-Pioneer

On last night’s CBC Compass, reporter John Jeffery went to the Federation of Agriculture annual general meeting and summarized it pretty well, with his story about 6:20 into the broadcast.
The membership heard from Bruce Raymond of the Department of the Environment who was on CBC Radio early Thursday, saying The Science says there is plenty of water if we stay within the policy.

The Department of the Environment (to their credit) Friday placed what is likely Mr. Raymond’s powerpoint presentation on this page.  The second choice has the “slides” with additional background information, and the third is the actual policy.  (Just a note that a policy is not the same as legislated “Water Act”, a related issue.)
If you have time to poke around in it this weekend.

The Federation did not make any sort of public statement on the issue of high capacity wells.

Agriculture Minister George Webster did say, “Don’t look at your own farm gate. Look at the Big Picture.”  A statement most would agree with.

From Rob MacLean, blueberry farmer, among other things, of Lewes:

No reason yet to trust industry
Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
Published on January 29, 2014

If governments and the potato industry havenʼt gotten soil conservation right, why should we believe theyʼre competent to manage our common water supply?
Science is very clear that minimizing erosion by maintaining soil organic matter of at least three percent is what we should do and that a crop rotation of at least three years is the way to do it. We canʼt plead ignorance. For decades, weʼve had commissions, round tables, teaching sessions and grants encouraging this goal.
In 2002, we even passed a law mandating crop rotations. The governmentʼs own website says one purpose of the Crop Rotation Act is “to maintain and improve ground and surface water quality . . .” So, how are we doing?
According to the Report of the Commission on the Lands Protection Act (p.28), from about 2001 to 2008 organic matter dropped Island-wide. At the start of the period, roughly two-thirds of the samples met the minimum level of three per cent. By 2008, only half were making the grade. Thatʼs not all. The same report (page 28 again) says fully one in four potato farms are not in compliance with the Crop Rotation Act. In other words, theyʼre breaking the law.
Historically, governments have been reluctant to prosecute offenders under the Crop Rotation Act. Maybe it seems like piling on to someone who already has plenty of troubles. Whatever the reason, going easy on offenders has the unintended consequence of discrediting the entire potato industry in the eyes of the public.
Learning the science of the water under our feet is just the beginning of the deep-well conversation. Our history with soil conservation proves that we have a lot to learn about putting environmental knowledge into practice. Until we do, thereʼs no reason to believe the potato industry can be trusted with our water.
Rob MacLean,

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