Editor: We are told that the stream and river flows in P.E.I. are stable. Which begs the question: Where is the seven million cubic metres per year produced by the Winter River well fields coming from?
I was talking to friends in Covehead when someone said: “If you ask me the real problem is flushing. The land is not being flushed the way it was. Last year they had the longest plumb ever in Covehead Bay. It lasted a whole month. Brackley Bay is dead. Gone. The aquiculture is gone; it’s no longer a commercial bay.” I asked, “What kind of plumb?” “Algae plumb. Anoxia.” was the reply.
In Nature magazine, April 18, 1996, an article appeared titled: An underground route for the water cycle; with subheading: Water flows from the land to the sea in rivers but there is evidence that a comparable amount may flow underground directly into coastal waters.
The research was done in South Carolina and the evidence is quantitative — based upon measurements of Radium, 88Ra226, with a half life of 1,620 years. The flow underground is called submarine groundwater discharge (SGD): estimates are 40 per cent SGD, 60 per cent surface discharge. The SGD acts as a climate regulator and provides temperature stability to coastal bays and estuaries: warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer. The SGD carries trace nutrients into and metabolic waste products out of the bays and estuaries.
Rain falling on land and entering the ground is called recharge. Recharge over the confined aquifer (CA) region of infiltration moves vertically downward until it's in the CA channel; whereas recharge over the CA region of exfiltration moves horizontally once it's in the saturated zone and forms the SGD. In short, SGD is flushing; SGD flushing our bays and estuaries.
We can reason by the missing ponds and bogs that the region of exfiltration has been shrinking, hence the SGD has been shrinking. This shrinkage is an expropriation of the SGD into the Winter River well fields and is the source of many problems in our North Shore fisheries.