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Barlow to speak in PEI on deep water wells, Feb. 26

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be speaking in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island on Wednesday February 26 on the future of deep water wells in that province. Along with Barlow, biologist Darryl Guignon and National Farmers Union representative Reg Phelan will speak. Keptein John Joe Sark will give the welcome and the event will be chaired by Catherine O’Brien of the Coalition for Protecting PEI’s Water. It will take place at the Rodd Charlottetown Hotel on Kent Street starting at 7 pm.

In mid-January, the Guardian reported, “Prince Edward Island potato growers are hoping the new year will bring them a gushing geyser of permits to begin irrigating fields this year from deep water wells. …But the idea of sucking tonnes of water out of P.E.I.’s deep water aquifer — the groundwater resource for all Islanders — has sprouted a litany of protest from citizen’s groups, political parties and environmentalists.”

“Council of Canadians vice-chairman Leo Broderick says there is a huge danger in allowing deep well irrigation in the province. ‘Our ground water is not an infinite resource and we will suffer from long-term ground water depletion.'”

In early-January, Broderick told the Journal Pioneer, “Our ground water is not an infinite resource and we will suffer from long-term ground water depletion. Eventually our water table will respond causing serious environmental damage and affecting individual and municipal water supplies.”

“Barlow said she values the role of farmers, and understands their need for a steady source of water. ‘But it is imperative that they not be allowed to imperil the Island’s limited ground water’, she said. ‘Unbridled irrigation is a source of great threat to water around the world. The planet is running out of accessible freshwater. We must fiercely protect what is left of our water sources and in fact, move to restore spent watersheds.'”

That article also noted, “Broderick said government should begin to transform PEI agriculture into ‘a sustainable food production system putting small-scale farms at the center of the transformation.'”

Late last week, CBC reported, “P.E.I. Environment Minister Janice Sherry told the legislature’s standing committee on agriculture (on February 13) there is still research that needs to be done on deep-water irrigation wells. …’The moratorium (in place since 2001) will not be removed unless and until we’re absolutely certain that more irrigation wells will not affect the quality or quantity of our drinking water resources’, she said. …There is still research to be done on how new wells might affect the quantity of groundwater available, its quality, and the affect on various aquatic environments, said Sherry.”

That article adds, “The Environment Department doesn’t know how many new wells the industry is looking to dig, or how much water it would want to use, but provincial environment director Jim Young pointed out digging a new well is not something that would be undertaken lightly.”

The Council of Canadians is calling on the the government of Prince Edward Island to continue with the moratorium on deep well irrigation and to legislate a complete ban on all deep well irrigation in the province at the next sitting of the legislature.

Further reading
Public Forum on Water, Wednesday February 26
Council of Canadians calls for ban on deep well irrigation in PEI
Broderick & Barlow raise concerns about deep well irrigation in PEI