Click here for the pdf file for Darcie Lanthier’s Water Act Presentation PEI
Not a lot of information in this article but we can safely assume that the contamination came from pesticides running off from the recent heavy rains.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has closed two areas of P.E.I. shoreline to shellfishing as a precautionary measure after fears of contamination from heavy rainfall.
On P.E.I.’s north shore, the closure runs east from Gillis Point to a point just east of Cavendish, and takes in the important shellfishing areas of both Malpeque Bay and New London Bay.
On the south side of the Island, the closure affects an area from the church in Mont Carmel east to just east of the Desable River.
The closure restricts harvesting of oysters, mussels, clams and any other bivalve mollusc in a three-kilometre band from shore.
The DFO has brought in similar closures in the past after heavy rains.
By Andrew Nikiforuk, m.thetyee.ca
A new study published in the science journal Nature GeoScience found that just six per cent of the groundwater in the upper two kilometres of the Earth’s crust is actually renewed over a human lifetime.
As a consequence, the vast majority of groundwater now being consumed at a rapid rate by agriculture, human communities and the oil and gas industry took hundreds, thousands or even millions of years to collect in the earth. (Some groundwater in Canada is more than a billion years old.)
”It begs the question of what is renewable in terms of groundwater,” said hydrologist Tom Gleeson at the University of Victoria and one of the paper’s authors. ”When we talk about groundwater, it can be 100, 1,000 or 10,000 years old and it was all at some time precipitation. But it all comes down to timescale.”
Scientists classify groundwater, the water that supplies aquifers and wells, as ”young” or ”modern” if it has seeped and pooled in the earth for only 25 to 100 years. It is generally more readily available and of better quality than old or ancient groundwater and is more vulnerable to contamination.
The study, which used extensive computer modelling, mapped the extent of young groundwater around the world by tracking tritium, a radioactive tracer, in thousands of groundwater samples from around the world.
Tritium is a byproduct of atmospheric nuclear testing during the 1950s and 1960s. The element fell to the ground in rainwater and is now a standard measurement for mapping young groundwater.
According to Gleeson and his collaborators, all the world’s young groundwater, if pumped and poured over the planet, would make a three-metre-deep pool, roughly the height of a basketball net.
In contrast, the remaining 94 per cent of the world’s groundwater, which is largely brackish, if pumped from depths of two kilometres would create a 180-metre flood on Earth, about the height of the Calgary Tower.
The report concluded that ”groundwater replenished over a human lifetime of 25 to 100 years is a finite, limited resource with a spatially heterogeneous distribution dependent on geographic, geologic and hydrologic conditions.”
”The results are a call to better manage and protect the resource,” said Gleeson. ”They show where groundwater is renewable and where it is most vulnerable to contamination and climate change.” Not surprisingly, young or modern groundwater is the most susceptible to both.
Groundwater supports a critical part of the Canadian economy.
Approximately 80 per cent of the rural population and 43 per cent of the nation’s agricultural productivity depend on groundwater. Groundwater also provides industry, including the water-intensive oil and gas sector, with 14 per cent of its water needs.
Yet federal researchers admit that they know relatively little about groundwater availability, quality and behaviour in Canada.
A 2011 report by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, a federal agency closed by the Harper government, noted that information ”on groundwater supplies is largely absent and is needed because of its link to many of Canada’s surface water sources.”
To date, Natural Resources Canada has mapped 19 of the nation’s so-called ”key” 30 aquifers. It doesn’t expect to complete its mapping until 2025.
Meanwhile, mining projects such as hydraulic fracturing in northern British Columbia and bitumen mining in northern Albertan could contaminate extensive groundwater supplies with stray gas, salt water, bitumen or other hydrocarbons.
John Cherry, the nation’s leading expert on groundwater contamination, has repeatedly warned that provincial governments have failed to set up rigorous groundwater monitoring programs in regions being fracked by the oil and gas industry in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
”From my hydrogeological perspective, I view shale gas development as a big experiment for which we have minimal scientific basis for predicting the outcome or the impacts of stray gas on groundwater quality,” he said.
Recent studies have shown that the fracking industry can violate aquifers, cause minor earthquakes and aggravate the leakage of stray methane from aging oil and gas wells by rattling existing oil and gas infrastructure.
A recent Stanford study, for example, found that the fracking of oil and gas less than a mile from aquifers or the Earth’s surface now takes place across North America with few restrictions, posing increased risk for drinking water supplies.
”We Canadians are leaders in many areas of groundwater science, but we are at the bottom of the ranking of countries that use modern science in or for groundwater mapping and protection,” Cherry said.
Earlier this year, NASA scientists reported that the human economy was rapidly mining nearly one-third of the world’s largest aquifers even though researchers know little about how much water remains in them.
The NASA study found that 13 of the planet’s 37 largest aquifers studied between 2003 and 2013 were being depleted while receiving little to no young water. These aquifers support two billion human beings with drinking water.
The scientists identified the world’s most stressed groundwater supply as the Arabian Aquifer System. It provides drinking water for places like Saudi Arabia and more than 60 million people.
Other dangerously stressed aquifers included the Indus Basin aquifer of northwestern India and Pakistan and the Murzuk-Djado Basin in northern Africa.
California’s Central Valley, which has been mined heavily by industrial agriculture and is suffering rapid depletion, was labeled ”highly stressed” as well.
Researchers now say the aquifer that supports much of North America’s food production ”lacks sufficient natural recharge to balance current use rates,” which has been exacerbated by an increased dependence on groundwater during the California drought. (California is the first state to pass sustainable groundwater management legislation, but it doesn’t go into effect until 2040.)
”The degree to which a society understands and protects its groundwater is a measure of the society’s commitment to taking care of the ‘public commons,’ or in other words, the commitment to environmental sustainability,” explained Cherry.
”This is because the problems that show up in groundwater take much longer than an electoral cycle or two. Therefore, if our present society behaves responsibly on this, the primary benefits are for our children and mostly our grandchildren. The Europeans sort of understand this, but we cowboys on this continent find the concept beyond our imagination.”
CLEAN WATER MEANS LESS PESTICIDES: A submission to the Committee on establishing a Clean Water Act from Pesticide Free PEI
Pesticide Free PEI believes that the development of a Clean Water Act should address the issue of deep-water wells but embody broader principles at play within the highly-sensitive ecosystems of our island province.
Pesticide Free PEI is concerned about the quality of both our surface water and groundwater as they are affected by the heavy use of pesticides by the province’s agricultural sector and by the unnecessary use of cosmetic pesticides on (mostly) urban lawns.
Please feel free to download full document here: consolidated water act and you can find the Prezi presentation by clicking here: https://prezi.com/7sggkh1kkgsz/clean-water-pesticides-on-pei/
At the forum on water on September 23rd, 2015 at the Rodd Charlottetown hotel.
Contact the government to set up a time: http://www.gov.pe.ca/wateract/index.php?number=1051824
And here is our very own, Catherine O’Brien, telling us more about the process:
This is the final report from the LAMP forum on the water act:
(please click on link to download PDF)
- Fall 2015: public consultations on the white paper and what should be in the Water Act carried out in several communities. A panel made up of some members of the Environmental Advisory Council will be at every meeting, and the meetings will be moderated by the highly respected Jean-Paul Arsenault, who used to work for government and helped with a lot of those previous Reports and Roundtables (which are linked in the white paper).
- Winter/Spring: Department of Communities, Land and Environment works on draft Legislation
- Spring 2016: second series of public consultations on draft water act
- Fall 2016 (November): Water Act legislation tabled in the P.E.I. Legislature.
This is a very short timeline, and may be too ambitious. BC spent 6 years on their act and are still working on the legislation.
Public engagement and input need to be truly incorporated into the document.
April 21 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Join us on Tuesday, April 21st at 7:00 p.m., Mackinnon Lecture Theatre, Holland College (Kent St entrance) for an all Party Leaders’ Forum on Environmental Issues.
Moderated by Dr Carolyn Peach-Brown, Director of UPEI Environmental Studies, the forum will feature the leaders of the Green, Liberal, Progressive Conservative and New Democratic Parties of PEI.
After answering a series of pre-set questions, there will be time for the leaders to respond to questions from the floor.
- Environmental Coalition of PEI
- PEI Watershed Alliance
- Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water
- Citizens’ Alliance of PEI
- Island Nature Trust
- Nature PEI
- Cooper Institute
- Holland College Green Machine
- PEI Environmental Health Cooperative
- Save Our Seas and Shores PEI
- Don’t Frack PEI
- PEI Food Security Network
- Green Economy Network
- Hunter-Clyde Watershed Group
- Friends of Covehead and Brackley Bay
- Cascumpec Bay Watershed Association
- Blue Dot PEI (The Right to a Healthy Environment)
- Vision PEI
- Sierra Club Canada (PEI group)
- Pesticide Free PEI
- Winter River Tracadie Bay Watershed Association
- Stratford Area Watershed Improvement Group
- April 21, 2015
- 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
- 22 Environmental Organizations Across the Island
- MacKinnon Lecture Theatre – Holland College
- 140 Weymouth St., Charlottetown, PE C1A 4Z1 Canada