Coalition Suggests Improvements to Water Act

Opinion Piece published in the Charlottetown Guardian, December 7, 2017

By Catherine O’Brien and Marie Ann Bowden

The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water recently met to discuss the newest draft of the Water Act.  After an inclusive and thorough participatory process, we are disappointed that no public consultation was allowed for this final draft.

Though we do see some very positive additions, we feel it is important to point out some significant gaps within the draft Water Act that are of great concern. We hope that some changes and amendments can be made before this Bill becomes law. Continue reading “Coalition Suggests Improvements to Water Act”

Advertisements

A Troubling Issue of High Capacity Wells

Opinion Piece by Gary Schneider and Don Mazer

November 30, 2017

The unveiling of the Water Act did little to resolve the central issue which sparked the creation of the Act – the moratorium on high capacity wells. Over 90% of those who participated in the extensive Water Act consultations were in favour of maintaining the moratorium. Unfortunately, the Act does not reflect this strong consensus.

To be clear, the draft Water Act does NOT include a moratorium on high capacity wells. Surprisingly, “high capacity wells” is only mentioned in a slide presentation on the Act, not in the Act itself. Under the heading “High capacity wells for Ag irrigation”, it says that “Water extractions will be addressed in regulations once the research on stream flow has been completed.”

The problem is that a very complex issue appears to have been simplified to a question of volume. In the face of climate change and competing needs, will we ever have enough scientific certainty to accurately predict how much water might be available for different uses? Even if we do develop trustworthy models, there is so much more to the question of how to safeguard PEI’s precious water resources for future generations than mere volume. Continue reading “A Troubling Issue of High Capacity Wells”

Water Act Debated in Legislature

The Water Act was tabled for second reading in the P.E.I. Legislature on November 29. As debate continues, and in the absence of further public consultation, it is important for MLAs to hear from us. The Coalition has identified several ways in which the act could be improved:

  1. Enshrine that water is a right.
  2. Make the fracking ban a real ban
  3. Use the right names for the terms: precautionary principle, intergenerational equity
  4. Do not allow municipalities to to exceed limits on water withdrawals
  5. Put the moratorium on high capacity wells in the Act
  6. Recognize Indigenous title and jurisdiction to watersheds in the Water Act. 

Continue reading “Water Act Debated in Legislature”

Maude Barlow among Speakers on Water, NAFTA and Supply Management Oct. 10

Boiling Point_Poster_FBThe Council of Canadians PEI Chapter will hold a Public forum on water, NAFTA and supply management on Tuesday, October 10, 7 p.m. at the Rodd Charlottetown, Kent Street, Charlottetown.

Maude Barlow, Honourary Chairprson of the Council of Canadians, author of Boiling Point, her latest book, will speak on government neglect, corporate abuse, and Canada’s water crisis including PEI’s.

Doug Campbell, District Director of PEI National Farmers Union will address water issues facing Prince Edward Island including the new PEI Water Act, drought, climate change, and the moratorium on high capacity deep water wells for agricultural irrigation. Doug will also discuss Supply Management as it relates to trade deals.

Scott Sinclair, trade expert and senior researcher with the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives will give an overview of what’s at stake for Islanders and Canadians in the current NAFTA negotiations.

The Public Forum is free and everyone is welcome. There will be an opportunity for public participation.

Leo Broderick, Chair of the Council of Canadians is urging Islanders to attend. “We are at a critical time on PEI as we face increased pressure from Cavendish Farms and PEI Potato Board to have the moratorium on high capacity deep water wells lifted. Our water is still being contaminated from agricultural pollution. As well, supply management is threatened by trade deals including NAFTA. Islanders need to know the facts and take a stand. This public forum will help.”

Nouhad Mourad, chair of the Council of Canadians’ PEI Chapter will be the moderator and Eliza Knockwood will open the Public Forum.

Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water Calls for Improved Environmental Assessment Process

Charlottetown – The decision of the Minister of Communities, Land and Environment to allow genetically modified salmon to be grown in Prince Edward Island was the result of a faulty environmental assessment process, says a local environmental group.

On Tuesday, July 11, representatives of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water met with Minister Mitchell to discuss the Coalition’s concerns about the approval of the proposal by AquaBounty Canada, Inc. to expand their plant in Rollo Bay West. The original approval, which was for an egg production facility, was expanded to a facility at which genetically modified salmon would be grown to market size, and then killed before being exported. 

Farmed-salmon-568x402

The group is unhappy about the approval for a variety of reasons, including the public consultation process, which they say was inadequate and poorly advertised. “Even after Environment officials decided to extend the deadline for submissions, there wasn’t really enough time for people to become informed enough or to prepare to respond to the application for such a big project,” says Catherine O’Brien, Chairperson of the Coalition.  Continue reading “Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water Calls for Improved Environmental Assessment Process”

Oceans Day 2017

Thursday, June 8th is World Oceans Day, and to mark the occasion, Save our Seas and Shores PEI and the Holland College Green Machine will present SONIC SEA, the award-winning documentary film about the devastating impact of human-produced ocean noise on whales and other marine life.

SONIC SEA travels beneath the ocean’s surface to uncover the damaging consequences of increased ocean noise pollution and what can be done to stop it. Narrated by Academy Award-nominated actress Rachel McAdams and featuring interviews with marine ecologists, ocean life experts, and wildlife activists, including Grammy-Award winning musician, human rights and environmental activist Sting, SONIC SEA highlights how noise from a range of human-made sources has affected whales in recent years, including the mass stranding of whales around the planet. The film uncovers how better ship design, speed limits for large ships, quieter methods for underwater resource exploration, and exclusion zones for sonar training can work to reduce the noise in our oceans and stop the deaths of our ocean’s beloved creatures, as long as society has the political will to solve it. [discovery.com]

The film will be shown in Room 21C at Holland College, main campus, starting at 7 p.m.

Immediately following the screening, Dr Lindy Weilgart will be available to comment and answer questions. Lindy is an Adjunct Research Associate at Dalhousie University, and specialist in the effects of underwater noise pollution on cetaceans. She has served as invited noise expert for DFO Canada, U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, International Whaling Commission, NATO, European Parliament, Convention on Biodiversity, and the United Nations, and has published numerous peer-reviewed papers. She currently serves as Scientific Advisor for the International Ocean Noise Coalition.

Stratford & Area Watershed Improvement Group Shares Concerns about Draft Water Act

cropped-img_1291

The Stratford and Area Watershed Improvement Group, a member of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, made a written submission

– There is a significant concern regarding the ability of the minister to allow municipalities to exceed water allocation rates, even outside of emergency situations or exceptional circumstances. Further, even “emergency” exceedances should be time-limited, and only where water conservation and all other means to reduce demand have been implemented; including, for example, restrictions on non-essential uses such as car washing and lawn watering.

– Outside of the definitions, water conservation is not addressed within the Act itself, whether from a residential, commercial, industrial or municipal perspective. SAWIG strongly feels water conservation is a fundamental component to long-term protection and preservation of PEI’s water. It is unfathomable that municipalities and other sectors will be allowed to increase their water use when conservation is not taken into consideration. Continue reading “Stratford & Area Watershed Improvement Group Shares Concerns about Draft Water Act”

Coalition Presents its Concerns about the Draft Water Act

DSCF3468

The Coalition is made up of over 20 member groups and hundreds of individual members. Members include ECO PEI, The Cooper Institute, NFU Region 1 District 1, Sierra Club of PEI, Citizens’ Alliance, The Council of Canadians, Don’t Frack PEI, Save our Seas and Shores, and several watershed groups. You’ve heard from some of our member organizations in the last couple meetings. We concur with those presentations you heard, and would like to add a few more points.

The initial consultation process was inclusive and transparent. More time was added for feedback when asked, and many of our recommendations were put forward to you from the EAC. We see some of those recommendations in the draft act.

We would like to ask you once again to continue this positive process and include more meaningful public participation in the creation and completion of the water act.

Concerned Islanders must have a real opportunity to be heard and to feel that they have had a chance to influence the ultimate decisions. I’d like to refer to this chart that demonstrates the best practices for meaningful public participation.

IAP2-1000x771-eng-1

Continue reading “Coalition Presents its Concerns about the Draft Water Act”

Don Mazer Comments on the Draft Water Act

“The clearest evidence of the failure of this Act to protect Untitledin Winter River is in the creation of Municipal Water Supply Area. And most troubling of all is Section 35(b), that gives the minister the authority to permit municipalities to exceed the limits on water extraction permitted by the Act, with neither reasons, nor time limits –perhaps this will be in the regulations. In my earlier brief I talked about the impacts of big interests, like municipalities and corporations which the government would be reluctant to regulate. This is clear example of this influence.
This is a disturbing and perplexing provision. It seems to reflect how government will try to balance the human demand for water with the need for water for healthy ecosystems and fish life. It indicates a willingness to not protect some waterways if the City requires the water. Perhaps, ‘you just can’t protect them all.’ Continue reading “Don Mazer Comments on the Draft Water Act”