February 9th, 2014

So much stuff!  Here are two good letters from week before last, and the link to the presentation by the Department of Environment, Labour and Justice on the water extraction policy.

From biologist Dr. Roger Gordon:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2014-01-30/article-3596348/Minister-should-not-give-in-to-potato-lobby/1

Minister should not give in to potato lobby
Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
Published on January 30, 2014
By Roger Gordon (Letter of the Day)

Our Minister of the Environment has shown poor leadership, not to mention patronizing attitude, by inviting the industry-inspired potato lobby group to educate Islanders on the merits of deep-water wells for irrigation purposes.
Now, Gary Linkletter has started this education remit with a treatise (Guardian, 25 Jan. – Guest Opinion) that attempts to explain the case for allowing corporate farming to access this precious water source by citing in the name of science conclusions from a government report. Is this the same report that the minister said would not be made available to the public, because it “was sent to me?”
So, it is hidden science. It is also science that obfuscates rather than clarifies. Mr. Linkletter makes no distinction between the shallower aquifers currently in public use and the deep-water source that would be accessed. We are given no information on the methodology used to form the conclusions. Respected environmental scientist Daryl Guignion believes there is insufficient scientific knowledge about the size and replenishment rate of the deep-water source to warrant lifting the moratorium. I agree.
Mr. Linkletter makes no mention of the quality of the deep water that he and his group would like to access. And for good reason.
The mindset of the agro sector toward industrial-scale production of potatoes, a low-value farm gate crop, has resulted in pesticide contamination of our rivers as well as high nitrate levels in surface and ground waters. The 2008 provincial Commission on Nitrates in Groundwater reported that as of 2007, an astounding 17 per cent of private wells surveyed were above or close to the safety limit for nitrates.
Aside from the fact most of the water will be wasted through evaporation, irrigation of heavily contaminated fields will speed up the leaching of agro-chemicals through the soil into our drinking water supply. And we are the only province in Canada totally dependent on groundwater. What is needed is not more potatoes, more pesticides, more fertilizers, but fewer potatoes, a more diversified agro-economy, with less reliance on toxicants. Water is a resource that belongs to the people of the province, not a sector of it. The minister should just say no to this irresponsible request.

Roger Gordon, Stratford, is a retired biologist and former Dean of Science at UPEI

———-

And from Wendy Budgeon:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2014-01-29/article-3595307/Debate-not-needed-on-deep-wells-issue/1

Debate not needed on deep wells issue
Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
Published on January 29, 2014

Editor:
I am absolutely dismayed at the debate over deep-water wells. What is there to debate? Our province depends on groundwater for life. Our children and grandchildren will be in bigger need of it than we are now.
How can our government even consider bargaining away our future for a handful of spuds? I have listened to the rhetoric on both sides and believe strongly in no more deep-water wells.
The potato industry would have us believe the science supports them. The only study I am aware of is almost a decade old. We cannot mortgage our future on 10-year-old science. Ten years ago the City of Charlottetown would have told you there was no water problem. We now know differently. Todayʼs science would have a different outcome as well I bet.
Please make your opinions known. Please donʼt believe 10-year-old science. Please save our childrenʼs and grandchildrenʼs water.
If potato farmers need more water then maybe they should be looking at desalination plants. But they wonʼt. Itʼs too expensive and the government couldnʼt help so much. So maybe there needs to be a dialog about truly treasuring the land and water not just about increasing yields and money.
P.E.I. could be a world leader in farm practices . . . instead we are just followers of dollars. 

Wendy Budgeon,
Charlottetown

———-

And if you want to view the presentation from the Environment Department person given to the Federation of Agriculture last week, go here:

http://www.gov.pe.ca/environment/water-extraction

for a choice of the presentation on water extraction, the presentation with background slides, and the policy from the department.

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