Province should let science decide on answer for thirty potato sector
© Brian McInnis - The Guardian
A farmer irrigates his field in western Queens County in this Guardian file photo from the summer of 2013.
It’s surprising that someone hasn’t tried to make a connection between digging deep-water wells and fracking. Is there much difference between the two? It’s widely believed that fracking would pose a serious threat to the Island’s aquifier and drinking water system. Drilling through aquifers to reach delusive oil and gas reserves and forcing some kind of chemical cocktail into the drill hole to fracture the mantle seems a foolhardy practice, considering our fragile, sandstone base. The province would be wise to support a recommendation from a legislative committee and place an immediate moratorium on fracking, or even better, put in place a full ban, following the example of granite bedrock provinces like N.S. and NL.
The lobby coming from the potato sector to lift the moratorium on deep-water wells to placate the thirsty industry must be thoroughly examined and decided with all factors considered.
A number of years ago, Cavendish Farms wanted to expand its operations in New Annan but also sought to drill more deep wells to get the extra water it needed. The province would love to have the extra jobs and more markets for P.E.I. spuds, but there was a threat to the water table in Kensington, Summerside and surrounding areas. It said no.
The cost to dig such wells and then put an irrigation system in place to water thousands of acres of potatoes is exorbitant. Is it really worth the expense when one year out of every five might be unseasonably dry and affect production?
Let science decide the answer. Can our water table sustain such a heavy demand? Let’s find out. Conservation and environmental issues for all Islanders should trump the economic wishes of the potato industry, despite its vital importance to the Island economy.
. . . While on a jaunt to B.C. this month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper chatted about the big national party coming up in 2017 for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations. He made a reference to P.E.I.’s own celebrations underway this year, one of his few public utterances on the subject. It would be proper protocol for the PM to visit the province this year, probably several times, so maybe Premier Robert Ghiz should invite him to come when Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall arrive here in May. The PM shouldn’t miss the Sept. 1 re-enactment of the Founding Fathers rowing shore either.
. . . There have been many reports in the press the past year or so about drunk drivers being nabbed on P.E.I. roads. They give the impression that the number of drinking and driving cases are increasing. Actually, they have dropped. DUI convictions in 2013 were 297, compared to 327 in 2012, 373 in 2011 and an alarming 424 in 2010. Police, especially the RCMP, have been very proactive in reporting DUI cases. Their constant plea to the public to report suspected drunk drivers are providing beneficial results. More Islanders are not driving after drinking because they never know who might get on their iPhones and call police.
. . . How many more surprises are going to come out of the mental health issue? The revelation that Health P.E.I. hired the consulting firm Corpus Sanchez to conduct two new reviews of mental health services in P.E.I. comes on top of astonishing revelations about Hillsborough Hospital, in and out patient care, low budgets and lack of communication. It adds credence to the argument the topic is being studied to death while Islanders is desperate need of help are not getting it. It appears the province’s director of mental health and addictions was not even unaware of this new Corpus Sanchez study. In 2008, the same firm had already reported about a “systematic fragmentation” of mental health and addiction services in P.E.I.