Council of Canadians Water Act Presentation

Leo Broderick presented on behalf of the Council, in Summerside on October 13. He ended his presentation with a hopeful message: “There is hope – and that is illustrated by looking at the bald eagle. The bald eagle took a heavy blow from DDT. A pesticide that enters the food chain and causes reproductive failure. The bald eagle is a great conservation story. PEI now has hundreds.”

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You can see Leo’s powerpoint presentation here.

 

Presentation by Gary Schneider to the EAC

Gary Schneider, Co-Chair of the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island and Past Member of the Round Table on Resource Land Use and Stewardship, presented to the Environmental Advisory Council on October 8th. One of his first recommendations:

“We must face up to the serious environmental problems in this province. This year’s Speech from the Throne stated that one reason people love to come to Prince Edward Island was our “pristine” water. And when I take the Marine Atlantic ferry there is always an announcement about our “pristine” Island waters. Pristine is a lovely word, but when you have dead fish floating in rivers and shellfish dying in our estuaries, attracting national and international attention in a variety of media outlets, you’d have to have a pretty low opinion of visitors’ intelligence to think they would believe that. Studies are being carried out at UPEI to look at the significant amounts of nitrates and pesticides that are flowing into the Strait. We really need to start making the same progress on water that we are finally making on mental health, child abuse, drug addiction or other societal issues. We need to honestly admit there are problems and address them with seriousness and immediacy.”

Read Gary’s full text here.

Cooper Institute Presentation to the Environmental Advisory Committee

On behalf of Cooper Institute, Marie Burge made a presentation to the Environmental Advisory Council on October 13 in Summerside. She recommended the following:

That the Prince Edward Island Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) insist the Government develop a time frame which allows for multi-layered engagement of the community; the PEI Water Act is too important and too essential to the future of PEI to be rushed through.

That the Prince Edward Island EAC engage community members specialized in clear language and ethical principles to develop a preamble to the PEI Water Act which reflects standards and ideals on which the protection of PEI water should be based, such as a common inheritance; a basic human and ecological right; and a public trust.

That the Prince Edward Island EAC be outspoken with, and supportive of, the Minister of the Environment and the Premier in relation to the incredible pressure on the Minister and Premier from influential circles, especially from those who realize that the Act may curtail their interests in some way.

That the Prince Edward Island EAC, aware that elements of the community will continue to think of water as theirs to own and use, even abuse, for their own private or collective gain, must design parts of the Act to address potential violators and redress the violations.

That the Prince Edward Island EAC, ensure that the PEI Water Act place front and center that the protection of PEI water means the protection of the land, air, plants, animals and the people of the province.

Read Cooper Institute’s full submission here.

 

Clean Water & Pesticides on PEI – Presentation by PFPEI

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/

A New Conversation About Water

IMG_3850by Don Mazer

We need a new conversation about water and about the human relationship with the natural world. And we need a new conversation about the meaningful role for all citizens in determining a sustainable water future.

The development of the Water Act provides us with an opportunity to have this conversation.

In current discussions, as in The White Paper (“A Water Act for Prince Edward Island”), water is often referred to as a “resource“ or “our most precious natural resource”. But this description reflects a problematic attitude toward water and the natural world.

– When water is seen as a resource, its value lies in how we humans can use and exploit it. We become “takers” and “consumers” of water, rather than stewards or guardians. We minimize the intrinsic value of water, and its role in supporting the healthy ecosystems required by all other species.

– “Our” water assumes ownership, and the right to do what we wish with water. But humans have no more claim to water than do the fish or the plants. We are part of a larger community of life that is interdependent with water. We have no special entitlement.

The White Paper reflects another troubling common assumption in our current perspective on the environment. Water is “managed” through a “risk assessment” approach. We come to regard certain levels of risk as acceptable (e.g. nitrate levels) and not as urgent issues requiring immediate solutions.

The risk assessment approach itself reflects a problematic relationship with the environment. The recurrent issues in our waters come from a willingness to accept just such risks: high nitrate levels, anoxic conditions, pesticide contamination, fishkills, dry stream beds. We continuously take unacceptable risks with “our most precious natural resource.”

The new conversation about water and the Water Act begins with a clear goal and purpose. In the White Paper, the goal is: “…to protect the quality and quantity of the island’s water and ensure that our water supply is healthy and sustainable now and into the future.”

We believe the goal of the Water Act should be “to protect and ensure the health of all aquatic ecosystems.” Only healthy ecosystems can provide the quantity and quality of water to support the needs of all human and nonhuman beings for all generations.

Making ecosystem health our priority requires that we adopt the precautionary principle in assessing risk: we have an obligation to protect the environment from harm whenever we can, even if scientific evidence is incomplete.

The Water Act should reflect key shared values. Water is a human and nonhuman right, part of the right to a healthy environment. Water is a common good and a public trust. No one owns water and we are all its guardians.

Ongoing citizen involvement in a transparent and informed process is essential in this new conversation, continuing well beyond the defined consultations into the development and implementation of the Water Act.

The Water Act is an opportunity to forge a different relationship with water and the natural world grounded in respect for what is truly precious to us. Our sustainable water future requires conservation, where we use only what we need rather than all that we want. We must be caretakers of water, and demand a Water Act that ensures the ongoing health of all aquatic ecosystems.

Water Act Consultations

Here are the dates and places for the upcoming Water Act Consultations (all are at 7 p.m.). These are all open to the public.

Charlottetown – October 6 – Murchison Centre
Charlottetown – October 8 – Farm Centre
Charlottetown – November 5 – Farm Centre
Summerside – October 13 – Credit Union Place
Souris – October 20 – Legion
Poole’s Corner – November 3 – Kaylee Hall
Wellington – November 17 – Legion
Kensington – Legion – November 24
Elmsdale – November 26 – Westisle School

The Water Act Deserves a Full and Open Discussion

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For decades, the issue of water has been a topic of concern for most Islanders.  The long list of problems includes ongoing fishkills, excessive nitrates and multiple pesticides in drinking water, anoxic conditions in bays and estuaries, sections of the Winter River running dry, excessive sedimentation and inadequate buffer zones, the degradation of wildlife habitat and the use of cosmetic pesticides.

In the fall of 2013, there was great pressure on the provincial government to remove a moratorium on the construction of high-capacity wells for agriculture.  While the Irvings, the Federation of Agriculture and others made a case for high capacity-wells for potato irrigation, conservation groups and other Island organizations said it would add yet another serious threat to our already fragile aquatic ecosystems.

The Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry held a series of meetings in 2014.  The public response was overwhelmingly against lifting the existing moratorium.  In April of 2014, the Committee recommended that the province develop a Water Act and to maintain the moratorium.

More than a full year later, the province released a White Paper and announced the scheduling for the consultations that would lead to the creation of a Water Act by the fall of 2016.   It should be noted that in BC, the province that most recently created a Water Act, it took six years.

You can visit http://www.gov.pe.ca/wateract/ to view the White Paper.

Clearly, the Water Act will not just deal with high-capacity wells.  As the Standing Committee chair Paula Biggar stated, “Having an extensive water act is one of the first steps that needs to be done before you can answer that other question of, ‘Should we lift the moratorium’.”

Since 1962, there have been over 50 documented fish kills in the province – more than one per year.  How do we stop them?  How are we going to prevent more nitrates from getting into surface and drinking water?  What will we do if it turns out that pesticide runoff from the Island’s industrial agriculture are harming lobsters in the Strait?  What about salt-water intrusion in wells?  And when Wade MacLauchlan was campaigning for the premiership, he pledged that the Water Act would deal with the issue of fracking, as well as pesticides.

The key water issues revolve around quality and quantity, but discussions leading to the development of the Act should be premised on water as a basic human right and an acknowledgement of the intrinsic values of aquatic ecosystems – including its role as critical wildlife habitat.  Water is not just a “resource”, and should not be seen as a commodity.  It is the basis of all life on the planet.

The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water is committed to the creation of a comprehensive Water Act.  We look forward to every opportunity to engage in a fair and open process and encourage all Islanders to participate.  We have raised serious concerns regarding the short time period, the number of public meetings, and the fact that some of the proposed meetings will be held in private.  The Coalition has refused an offer for a private meeting, since privacy runs counter to an open and transparent process.  We will, of course, be presenting at public meetings and through the use of social and private media.

While the Coalition is proposing more public meetings, here are the ones that are now scheduled (all at 7pm, locations to be determined):

Charlottetown: October 6 and 8

Summerside: October 13

Souris: October 20

Montague: November 3

Wellington: November 17

Kensington: November 24

Elmsdale: November 26

You can email comments to wateract@gov.pe.ca or mail them to A Water Act for PEI, Department of Communities, Land and Environment, Box 2000, Charlottetown, PEI   C1A 7N8.  Comments can also be phoned in (902-368-5028) or faxed (902-368-5830).

This is your opportunity to participate in a critical juncture in Island history.  The resulting Water Act will guide policy for many years to come.

Gary Schneider co-chairs the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island, one of the member groups of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water.  He also served on the provincial Round Table on Resource Land Use and Stewardship. 

A Water Act for PEI – Have Your Say!

The Water Act that has been proposed by the PEI government will guide policy for many years to come. The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water is looking forward to a fair and open process leading its development, and we encourage all Islanders to participate.

You can do so in a number of ways – by sending your input in writing via mail or email, by calling, or by making a presentation at a public consultation. The current schedule for public consultations looks like this (all at 7pm, locations to be determined):

Charlottetown: October 6 and 8, November 5

Summerside: October 13

Souris: October 20

Montague: November 3

Wellington: November 17

Kensington: November 24

Elmsdale: November 26

Here’s how you can register to make a presentation, call, or send your comments: Email: wateract@gov.pe.ca

Mail: Department of Communities, Land and Environment, Box 2000, Charlottetown, PEI  C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-5028                                 Fax: 902-368-5830

 Why get involved?

PEI needs a Water Act that ensures the ongoing health of our ecosystems and preserves water as a common good for future generations. We look forward to an open public discussion that includes questions such as these:

  • Since 1962, there have been over 50 documented fish kills in the province – more than one per year. How do we stop them?
  • How are we going to prevent more nitrates from getting into our surface and drinking water?
  • How do we prevent pesticide runoff from harming our shellfish and lobster fisheries?
  • How do we use this opportunity to forge a different relationship with water and with the natural world, one that is grounded in an attitude of respect for something that is truly ‘precious’ to us?
  • How do we ensure that our sustainable water future is based on conservation, where we will learn to use only what we need rather than all that we want?

The Coalition is made up of representatives of the Citizens’ Alliance of PEI, Pesticide-Free PEI, District 1, Region 1 of the National Farmers Union, Environmental Coalition of PEI, Don’t Frack PEI, Cooper Institute, Hunter-Clyde Watershed Group, Ellen’s Creek Watershed Group, Winter River–Tracadie Bay Watershed Association, the Council of Canadians, PEI Group – Sierra Club Canada, Save Our Seas and Shores PEI. Our aim is to have an informed, public voice in a policies and decisions that affect PEI’s water. For more information, or find us on FaceBook.