Keep moratorium on deep-water wells for now: committee recommends

Teresa Wright
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"Your committee’s work is not done on this issue," MLA Paula Biggar tells legislature

Paula Biggar

The moratorium on deep-water wells should remain in place while further investigation and public hearings continue, the standing committee on environment has recommended.

The standing committee on agriculture, environment, energy and forestry delivered its report to the legislature this morning.

Committee chair Paula Biggar said the moratorium should remain in place for now, but the issue of high-capacity wells should continue to be probed.

This has proven to be a complex issue and your committee does not wish to make recommendations prematurely, Biggar said.

Witnesses to date have made compelling arguments both for and against the lifting of the moratorium and your committee continues to consider these very carefully. The interest of so many individuals and groups and the capacity attendance at committee attendance to date speak to how important this issue, and water in general, is to Islanders.

"Your committees work is not done on this issue.

The last two months have seen jam-packed meetings with dozens of citizens and environment groups raising serious concern over the impact of allowing new deep-water wells for agricultural irrigation.

But potato farmers have also made presentations, saying they need access to supplemental irrigation in order to remain competitive.

The environmental groups have called for an independent review of the data compiled by the Department of Environment showing the Island uses only a small percentage of available water.

They also called for legislation to be enacted that would regulate and protect groundwater in P.E.I.

The environment committee today strongly recommended government develop a water act.

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Recent comments

  • David Ing
    April 06, 2014 - 09:52

    I look forward to a public meeting with ALL the pertinent scientific and environmental information discussed openly with everyone.

  • don
    April 05, 2014 - 10:39

    Paula this standing committee on agriculture, environment, energy and forestry is a joke all it is set up to make it look like ghiz cares about the water. the money is more important then water the big farmers with money will tell ghiz what to do as they will be paying to keep the boy in. but i ask you when we have a drought and we will and we have NO fresh water will the farmers pay for us to have all the water we want? get that in writing by an honest lawyer that is not a liberal supporter. and what gets me is the farmers will not use there own wells that supplies the water to there homes. they are not stupid they ant there water for the family but to hell with every one else again MONEY over life.

  • mt
    April 05, 2014 - 06:39

    No public input is needed , just good a good scientific study. Then a proper decision can be made.

  • Odd
    April 05, 2014 - 03:33

    The NFU, Greens and other activists applaud this foolish decision but a farmer can be denied a well on a 100 acre field that is in a three-year potato rotation - irrigating a part of one year in three. That same farmer can subdivide that property into 100+ lots, sell the lots and the government will approve 100+ homes in the same field each with their OWN well and septic and draw water and place waste 365 days /year. Think about how many rural subdivisions have been approved since the moratorium has been put in place. Makes sense?

  • Farmer
    April 04, 2014 - 22:05

    "Really", I think you need to go back to school. There were upwards of 50 people at the NFU District Convention. Without the input from the NFU, other organizations and the huge public outcry, this moratorium would have been lifted long ago. Give credit where credit is due.

    • Real farmer
      April 05, 2014 - 03:38

      The Guardian reported 25 in total at the NFU convention. I spoke to someone who was there and said there were only a few active farmers in the room. The farmers who presented at the Standing Committee were asked if there were PEIFA or NFU and they said they were PEIFA as most farmers are. The NFU wouldn't even tell the committee how many members they had.

  • What?
    April 04, 2014 - 16:13

    What compelling arguments have been presented FOR lifting the moratorium - I've been to the meetings and heard it all and more competitive vs. safe and abundant water for all of us!? No brainer - make do with what you have potato industry - you've been spoon fed for decades by gov't and citizens and all you've done is silt up the streams, kill fish, reduce organic matter, sea lettuce clog the estuaries, poison the air and generally screw it up all for the sake of a longer fry which is a dying market anyway! - fix up your own back yard before asking to spoil your neighbour's

  • ITOLDUSO
    April 04, 2014 - 14:08

    I heard a statement during a new cast where it was stated by a representitive of the farmers wanting deep water wells that they would not require the amount of chemicals that they are using now because the plants wouldn't be under stress. Well I hope the government is keeping track of the amount that farmers are using now and in the past. If by and chance the governments is dumb enough to allow deep water wells the government will require the control of all chemicals to know how much is going to washed off into the ground water. W know that they have done a very poor job to date.

  • John Joe Sark
    April 04, 2014 - 12:54

    The battle is not over yet. We must stand on guard, to prevent anymore this deep water wells from being set up for agricultural irrigation of potato crops. We must protect our water and the health of our people today and for future generations.

  • Darcie Lanthier
    April 04, 2014 - 12:31

    In three full days of hearings, all of the "Science" was presented by those against lifting the moratorium. There was a single group of 10 potato producers who after showing pictures of their children presented a chart showing that they already irrigate their potatoes. The Federation of Agriculture seemed ambivalent and the Nation Farmers Union (a much larger group) was opposed.

    • Really?
      April 04, 2014 - 21:43

      The "much larger group" had 17 people in total at their Annual Meeting. The PEIFA, which really represents family farms, has more than that at a regular board meeting. Facts mean nothing to the Greens!!

  • UPWESTER
    April 04, 2014 - 12:01

    A big thank you to the committee for listening to us and keepping the moratorium in force.

  • You Don't Always Get What You Want
    April 04, 2014 - 11:55

    I'm thankful that Ms. Biggar is a voice of reason but I still fear for Islanders. Look at what Nestles is doing. The ability to compete is a want not a need. Water is a need. To say "how important this issue, and water in general, is to Islanders" is like saying that oxygen is important to Islanders. It goes without saying. Water is vital to life itself. Not something to even considered gambling away. The state of water world-wide is deteriorating at an incredible rate and anybody who thinks it's okay to give what precious little is left to a bunch of corporate french fries needs to have their head examined.

  • Sounds about right
    April 04, 2014 - 11:40

    This is why I love PEI. There is still hope for our democracy. Thank you all the people that participated, and took time our your busy schedule to tell the government how you feel. And I don't mean the people that were paid to tell the government how their employers feels - but rather people that volunteered their free time to stand up for the public good.