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”

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February 2nd, 2014

Some random notes, perhaps good for reading with a warm cup of something on a wet Sunday:

Fracking in Noca Scotia:
A Nova Scotia company says it is able to clean up fracking waste water.
Is this the water used to frack the well, then pumped out and in holding structures, or the water and chemicals that leaks through any breakdown in the concrete pipes?  (I think I know the answer.)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/fracking-waste-can-be-cleaned-for-disposal-minister-1.2518765

As of right now, Nova Scotia is not allowing fracking, but the new government has called for a review, which is evaluated here:
http://nofrac.wordpress.com/
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Regarding PEI and high capacity wells:
Yesterday’s Guardian had a story about the presentation on groundwater by the Department of Environment’s Bruce Raymond at the Federation of Agriculture’s AGM Friday, and Agriculture Minister Webster’s comments (article printed further down this e-mail):
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2014-02-01/rticle-3599115/Deep-water-well-issue-may-go-to-public-consultation/1

Someone wrote me:
“It would appear that Government has ripped the (Educate the Public on the Wells) File back from the Potato Board.

The press did not note any Potato Board presentations at the Federation of Agriculture meeting. 
Government is now doing the Full Sale mode (including a timely little “Environmental Update” tucked into this morning’s Guardian).
It seems as though they are using the road-tested “Announce and Defend” template, sans Announcement.
Sherry has been muzzled as well, with the Premier stepping up to take the helm.
The Good News is that both Ghiz and Webster are not optimistic about getting Permits on-stream this season.
They both are talking about some form of public consultation.
This to me indicates that some Time has been bought.”

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Deep water well issue may go to public consultation

by Steve Sharratt
Published in The Guardian on February 1, 2014

He’s not ruling it out but Agriculture Minister George Webster says the lifting of the deep water well moratorium and issuing new permits this year could be a stretch.

But that all might depend on the opinion of Islanders.

Webster confirmed at the annual meeting of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture Friday in Charlottetown that a process is forthcoming to engage the general public and gather opinion on the controversial issue.

A moratorium on deep water wells was established 10 years ago and some potato growers are pressing the government to lift the ban and allow some new permits to be acquired this year. There are already 35 deep water wells grandfathered into the regulations, and Webster said there have been no adverse effects recorded from those wells.

“We need much more consultation with the public so they are informed,’’ he told The Guardian in an interview. “We will likely be told here today that there is adequate water available, but we want the public to be able to air opinion and hear the science.”

Watershed management director Bruce Raymond of the Department of Environment was one of the highlights at the farm meeting when he identified that — while every region is different — P.E.I. is mostly blessed with plenty of water and at a regular recharge rate.

“It works out to the equivalent of 154 Olympic size swimming pools for every square kilometre,’’ he told a roomful of farmers at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. “That’s about 70 times more than we currently use across the province.”

Raymond wasn’t suggesting there was so much water that irrigation permits should be handed out carte blanche, but he confirmed that the entire province only uses seven per cent (for everything) of the 35 per cent of the current water supply readily available.

The $1 billion dollar potato industry is looking to irrigate about 30,000 additional acres and estimates it would only take an additional one per cent of water. Raymond said the “math” hadn’t been finalized, but estimated that was a low ball figure.

“We use about seven per cent of the available level (top of the aquifer) so there is still quite a bit of water,’’ he said.

Webster said Stratford is currently using almost 90 per cent of its current water supply and irrigation permits would not be entertained from that region, but he confirmed there were certain parts of the province where the water was more than plentiful.

The minister said he expects full consultations with the public coming soon and before any decision is made by government.

“This year might be a stretch but I’m not ruling it out or saying it’s going to happen. Some could be doable, but not from coast to coast to coast.”

Opposition Leader Steven Myers attended the presentations on deep water wells and climate change and insisted public consultation was necessary.

“I won’t oppose a decision based on good science,’’ he said. “But there’s no need to rush on making a good decision. I’m asking the government to put everything on the table so we can all decide.”