Calling for a Moratorium on Holding Ponds

On Wednesday June 17, members of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water held a media conference near Kinkora, in view of a newly constructed 17 million gallon holding pond. Catherine O’Brien and Don Mazer, speaking on behalf of the Coalition, were joined by Doug Campbell (National Farmers’ Union) and Boyd Allen (Coalition for the Protection of PEI Lands.

The Coalition has called for a moratorium on construction of new holding ponds, at least until the water withdrawal regulations and the Water Act are put into effect. Holding ponds and underground water delivery systems are fed by multiple low capacity wells and are seen as a way of working around the current moratorium on high capacity wells for irrigation. The Coalition sees this as a clear violation of the spirit and intent of the new Water Act.

See the video of the presentations here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Egq7wh7HsDJUcdByRQMcTV85x79Jf5bu/view?usp=sharing

And find the written presentations here: Coalition Media Conference June 2020 Presentations

Thanks to Isaac Williams for the panoramic shot of the holding pond, above, and for videotaping the media conference!

Cavendish Farms Research Proposal Would Require 3 New High Capacity Wells

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And here’s the full proposal.

In November of 2018, Robert Irving appeared before the Standing Committee on Communities, Land and the Environment. He had been asked to speak about his corporation’s land holdings but he really never did get around to that. There were other things on his mind. Once again he demanded that the moratorium on high capacity wells be lifted, to allow for a research project involving 3 watershed groups and UPEI and government researchers. Read the full research proposal here. At the same meeting he asked for land limits under the Lands Protection Act to be effectively doubled.

Here’s what Marie Ann Bowden from the Coalition said in a Letter to the Editor, after the Charlottetown Guardian published an editorial in support of Irving’s project idea:

EDITOR:

The Guardian editorial of December 5, “A sensible suggestion,” clearly supports the proclaimed commitment to environmental sustainability expressed by Cavendish Farms. While I salute the editor’s optimism, it raises a few questions:

The province has indicated that the moratorium on high capacity wells for agriculture will remain in place at least until 2021, when the research of Dr. Mike Van den Heuval and the Canadian Rivers Institute is completed. No new high capacity wells should be considered or permitted until that time.

If this proposal were to be accepted, and the water drawn from these wells used to irrigate agricultural lands, would this simply be a happy byproduct of “determining the impacts of agricultural irrigation on the water table”? And if Island water sources are shown to be “at risk” as a result, how would those negative impacts be addressed?

The editor states, “The Irvings are successful because they make sound, and sometimes hard, business decisions.” So when exactly does a “pilot” project undertaken in the name of sustainability become a hard business decision to irrigate more agricultural lands, and circumvent a moratorium on deep water wells endorsed by Islanders?

Let’s call “a spade, a spade” or in this case ” a spud, a spud.” The proposal requires violating the moratorium. The “sensible suggestion” is that government should simply reject it on that basis alone – no matter who is making the application.

Marie Ann Bowden,
Charlottetown