Editor: Prince Edward Island is a tiny island surrounded by the sea; indeed, parts of the island are ‘floating’ on seawater intrusion. How vulnerable are we to further damage?
Second, a writer in this newspaper last week suggested irrigation water just goes back into the aquifer (or words to that effect). No, it doesn’t! First there is evaporation as the water is sprayed into the air and as it drops on the warm earth. Then there is transpiration as the potato plant uses the water in its ‘factory’ to grow and make plant material. And of course the potatoes are 79 per cent water. And is this not the purpose — to grow many hundredweight of potato-holding water and transport that water to the potato market? I concede that the remainder might re-enter the aquifer.
Don’t get me started on the potato industry as a “responsible manager of the soils”. Already some of the aquifers we use for supporting life (drinking water) are contaminated by nitrates. Nowhere on the island do we have to go very far to see criminal mismanagement of our soils, especially in hilly areas. Siltation from potato fields runs off into the ditches which fill and overflow with silt. The taxpayer has to pay to clean out the ditches, and, to my amazement, government has to use equipment to clean silt off the road surface. Let’s leave for another discussion the loss to the farmer of his capital investment (fertile soil) and the loss of quality water in the streams for trout and salmon and the burying of oyster habitat and the silting of mussel farms. Triple loss. (Toss in a few million tonnes of sea lettuce for good measure.)
Industry and environment must balance and co-operate. If we have no environment we have no industry. I wish my grandchildren to have a future in this island of beautiful nature, fisheries, agriculture, tourism and all other islanders living in harmony.
If we fail to manage our groundwater properly, we will be in an awful salty soup without water.