By Gary Schneider, Environmental Coalition of PEI and member of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water
The province’s new Irrigation Strategy is a document that all water users – not just those who use irrigation in whatever form that takes – should take a long, hard look at. The development of the Water Act started out as an exemplary template for meaningful public participation. Unfortunately, over time, the process has become less and less transparent and responsive.
One way to get things back on track is to return to sound participatory processes. Any strategy is only as good as its implementation. The water governance body, an independent, arms-length, representative body to ensure proper implementation, is an idea that has been repeatedly brought forward by the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water and other stakeholders. The Irrigation Strategy pledges that “In addition to the administration of permits being delivered by a central body, irrigation will also be overseen by a central advisory board. This board will be tasked with ensuring the continuation of strategy finds the balance between environmental protection and commercial usage. This board will consist of users, conservation groups, senior government officials and other key stakeholders.”
How do we make this body truly representative? The provincial Round Table on Resource Land Use and Stewardship had representatives from a variety of sectors – agricultural, tourism, conservation, forestry, aquaculture, municipalities, recreational fisheries, etc. This body worked together and came up with some great recommendations that have become part of our way of life. Unfortunately, many others were not fully adopted, or not adopted at all, leading to continued environmental degradation.Continue reading “A Framework for Water Governance”