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These are some personal observations after reading the recently released consultation report on water extraction from the Department of Environment, Water and Climate Change.
First of all, you don’t have to be a Rhodes scholar to realize the report is nudging us strongly in the direction of greater use of our groundwater by industrial agriculture. The report, of course, doesn’t say any such thing. It just hides intent beneath a slick veneer.
Secondly, it is a report based on the views of a very small number of Islanders, 103 of whom actually attended the four public meetings. And I for one believe that even those poorly advertised meetings were stacked to some extent with individuals representing various special interests.
It is unfortunate that the meetings weren’t better attended but it surely has something to do with the fact that many Islanders, who have seen these procedures rolled out time and time again, believe they are exercises in futility. But that failure is on us – those of us opposed to the extraction of water in support of industrial agriculture. It’s time for battle mode. Time to show up with good questions and strong resolution to end this travesty, or what might be called the "organicide" being practised on this Island.
Further, the most obvious question – the one most Islanders are concerned with — was never addressed; the question of whether it is a good idea to extract large amounts of water from high-capacity wells to support industrial agricultural practices that are destroying both the soil of the Island and, collaterally, Island rural culture, and placing more and more control in the hands of a single mega-corporation. That’s what on the minds of concerned Islanders and both the premier and Minister Trivers know it, and it is cowardly and devious for them to be dodging it and hiding behind a shiny, misleading report.
Let’s suppose for a moment that we do have a large surplus of water beneath our feet, which is an immense treasure in this increasingly thirsty world. More precious by far than gold or bitumen. The question would be, since that water is for the use of all of us, and for the plants and animals as well, what kind of morons would we be to conclude that the best thing we can do with it is give an immense amount of it to a multi-billionaire for the making of French Fries and the further despoliation of the Island landscape.
That is simply madness. Greed-fueled insanity. And let’s be clear about this one thing: the science about water extraction and the effects on the aquifers is not clear, whereas the science of soil, and of what is happening to it on P.E.I., is very clear.
I consider this to be the greatest issue of my lifetime on P.E.I., and I am glad that popular resistance has made it into a battlefield, and a good place to die.
David Weale, who lives in Charlottetown, is co-founder of Vision P.E.I.