A Reader's View
© Photo special to The Guardian
Editor: I see the water debate as an issue that is not just about the science, it brings communal stewardship into the equation. Most Islanders would love to see responsible use of an important resource to P.E.I. I have been passionate about and followed water use issues my entire life.
I have felt over the last several years that it is not that important to others even in the driest areas of the world … life just goes on … it’s progress. We have been poor managers of global resources, we have just moved on once resources have been consumed. Water is very unique in that it is renewable, reusable and required by all life forms on this planet.
It is from the creator whoever may have been, whether you believe in science, spirit, or something else, we have it and thus need to maintain it. It’s not about agriculture, it’s about water use, and the unknown unknowns with regard to it.
When one thinks of good management it would seem to me that water is a business input such as other resources, human, chemical, financial. Thus this public resource should be taxed if consumed by business not just agriculture. (We are going to have to tax business in a world of declining employment and increasing human expectation). I suggest extracted water use should be taxed and licensed. I would suggest that business and agriculture should consider this input like all other inputs. They have a cost. That cost should be minimal to start but can be increased.
This new source of revenue could meet other societal goals. I also feel this resource should be licensed. That licence could be tied to good stewardship. If you have not paid attention to the details of good stewardship as outlined by the Department of Environment the licence could be suspended and revoked. non-agricultural as well. We would still own the rights and control of the water resource. I have been in other areas where we continue to preach about what stewardship is but continue on as usual. Now we need to monetize this input of business whether it be agriculture or business.
Would the tar sands be viable with a water cost? What about bottled water? There are many water users that pump water from the ground without cost. Why do we allow that? Water needs to be monetized or we will continue giving it away and depositing in the oceans without societal benefit. As an input with costs it provides a necessary framework for water use. Licensing and taxation needs to be considered here. Think larger than science, think larger than increased water — increased production — increased viability.
This is one of the great resources of the world. We have already sold the land, now we should sell the water too, but not without collective societal benefit and responsibility. We as little P.E.I. have a great opportunity to provide a framework that other jurisdictions could look at with respect. (Makes me wonder who is the real mainland, the island or the rest of north America). This is a chance for leadership politicians.
I challenge you to make it work for all. Increased water use means increased responsibility. Any pump over (x) horse power needs a licence, a rate and a meter. That seems fair and equitable. I would think 2-3 hp would work. There will always be unknown unknowns and they are not mitigatable. This would allow us to respond in the future as a whole rather than sell the rights outright. Water is a public resource and we need to remain clearly in charge.