P.E.I. government to bring in water protection bill

Teresa Wright
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Environment minister says she is responding to concerns raised by Islanders

Environment Minister Janice Sherry, centre, spoke to a committee of MLAs on the issue of deep-well irrigation in February. Joining her were the provincial director of environment Jim Young, left, and Bruce Raymond, right, manager of watershed planning for the province.

The P.E.I. government will introduce a water act to ensure sustainable management of the Island’s water resources, Environment Minister Janice Sherry announced this morning.

Environmental and water conservation groups have been calling for legislation to protect P.E.I.’s water as part of an ongoing campaign raising concern over a proposal by the potato farming industry to lift the moratorium on deep-water wells.

Sherry says bringing in a water act will show government’s commitment to managing water resources in a sustainable manner.

No consideration will be given to lifting the moratorium on high capacity wells for agriculture irrigation until the water act and regulations are in place, Sherry said.

She added Islanders will have a say in what this new act will entail.

“There will be broad consultations with Islanders and experts in the development of the new act,” Sherry said in a news release issued this morning.

The proposed water act will create new legislation for areas such as groundwater allocation, discharges into fresh and marine water environments and mandate targets for water quality. 

Currently there are various pieces of legislation, regulations and policies in place, but no comprehensive set of water policies embodied in one piece of legislation.

The new water act proposes to address that need.

The development of a water act was also one of the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry following its consultations earlier this year on high capacity wells for agriculture irrigation.

Sherry says the act will address a wide range of matters related to the supply and quality of water, including drinking and wastewater facilities, conservation and watercourse and wetland protection.

As part of the process for developing the water act, a white paper will be released, public consultations will be carried out by an arms-length group and a review of legislation in other jurisdictions will be undertaken.

The work will begin immediately.

“Islanders have told us very clearly that they attach the utmost importance to the protection of our water and we have listened to what they are telling us,” Sherry said. 

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Recent comments

  • Dog & Pony
    June 18, 2014 - 22:23

    The look on Jom's face says it all and the three most incompetent people in that department already know the outcome. They can hire a new deputy minister and develop a new water act to give people hope, but i'd say the deal is already done. The moratorium will be lifted mark my words, right after this dog and pony show is over.

  • apples
    June 18, 2014 - 15:36

    Our Province doesn't have gas, oil or minerals.Therefore, with the number of people that CF employ, it would be a no brainer to tell Mr. Irving to pack up and leave our Province. Don't delay your decision and accomadate CF.

    June 18, 2014 - 15:34

    I trust this Government as far as I can spit. The deal with the Irvings is probably already made. This will go into the shredder along with all Ghiz's broken promises. When she stated no consideration will be made to lift the ban UNTIL the act is in place sealed it for me. It's a done deal and this is only smoke and mirrors to make it look like they are doing something. This is not the 50s and 60s anymore, people read and understand what is happening and you cannot control that.

  • New bill
    June 18, 2014 - 15:20

    What is really needed is a bill to protect us from incompetent and corrupt politicians but that will never happen until pensions and perks are changed to be less attractive to the greedy people that run with one purpose in mind.

  • Liberal douche
    June 18, 2014 - 15:19

    We as islanders read in the paper 2 ago about Irving s /MacCain could possible halt production on PEI if they dont have their way with deeper wells,being a taxpayer Im sure that the end of our ground water supply.I hope Im wrong but who knows with this government time will tell.

  • country boy
    June 18, 2014 - 13:47

    Where are the Natives on this issue? Look around the country and see the number of irrigation wells already in place in potato land. My water is already poisoned by high nitrates that I can't drink it unless it goes through re verse osmosis first. Wake up Islanders before it's too late. We can't replace our water.

  • don
    June 18, 2014 - 13:44

    if they lift the law on deep water wells i ask irving and sherry what will you do when we have DROUGHT? and if you think it will not happen then you are all fools. now irving does not care if we lose our fresh water as he lives in NB. but sherry you and your family do live here how will you explain to your kids and other members of your family why we have NO WATER? tell us if you have the back bone? and if you can get the ok from your master?

  • MFH
    June 18, 2014 - 13:13

    Say goodbye to clean fresh water. Not only are the air and the ground poisoned with killer chemicals but now the government is going to poison the water. This present government will be long gone when the effects start to show up. Now is the time to take action and protect our most precious resource.

  • Hopeful
    June 18, 2014 - 13:05

    This is a step in the right direction however, given the past record of this gov't I feel I should temper my rejoicing with some suspicion. Who are these "experts"?

  • water tight
    June 18, 2014 - 12:52

    If one could just believe them, -- is the arms length group Mr. LeClair's company (former aid to Ghiz), who also represented Cavendish Farms and the Potato Board? The fact is this government has lost all credibility, and anything they come up with is suspect, - half truth and lies are hard to overcome, - Would it surprise anybody if a letter had gone out to Mr.. Irving, at the same time as this announcement saying: " we will figure something out, don't worry".

  • Stewart Smith
    June 18, 2014 - 12:52

    "She added Islanders will have a say" - huh? Knowledgeable Islanders should write this act, without the help of government pen-pushers or consultants, who know nothing of this issues involved.

  • Hopeful
    June 18, 2014 - 12:23

    This is a step in the right direction however, given the past record of this gov't I feel I should temper my rejoicing with some suspicion. Please prove me wrong.

  • enough already
    June 18, 2014 - 10:51

    I will guarantee the fine people of Prince Edward Island the moratorium will be lifted after the next provincial election. The boys will have there pensions intact and there will be nothing to lose and lots of lined pockets.

    • Observer from the East
      June 18, 2014 - 12:18

      Sadly, I think "enough already" is right. I hope the farmers science is right, but I highly doubt it. Goodbye healthy water table...