© Brian McInnis - The Guardian
A farmer irrigates his field in western Queens County in this Guardian file photo from the summer of 2013.
Editor: There are short-term advantages to irrigating from deep wells on the Island. A larger, higher-quality potato crop is desirable, and is the reason for wanting to do this, but the consequences may not be at all to our benefit.
I grew up in the Texas Panhandle, which is above a part of the Ogallala Aquifer. This aquifer is one of the largest in the world, at 450,000 square kilometres, an area approximately 80 times the area of P.E.I.. Intense use of this aquifer since about 1950, now providing over 25 per cent of the irrigation water in the U.S, as well as municipal water to 4/5 of the population in the area, has depleted this vast body of water. Wikipedia has maps and charts and this quote from the article: “Certain aquifer zones are now empty; these areas will take over 100,000 years to replenish naturally through rainfall.”
Some aquifer zones on the Island are threatened now. Charlottetown is being forced to look for another, as the Winter River is being dried up.
More and better spuds are valuable to the Island, but before we deplete the water beneath us, we need to see that the aquifers can replenish themselves rapidly enough to support this activity.