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PEI chapter draws water from Hillsborough River and Ellen’s Creek to send to Trudeau


Photo from Nouhad Mourad

The Council of Canadians Prince Edward Island chapter has collected water to send to Justin Trudeau for the ‘climate welcome’ happening in Ottawa on Nov. 7. That day of action is focused on reminding the new prime minister about the preciousness of water, the impact of pipelines and tar sands expansion on waterways across this country, and the need to protect water from these and other threats.

Climate change is already impacting Prince Edward Island’s temperature and precipitation patterns (it’s getting warmer and drier), coastal erosion (the ocean is eroding 28 centimetres of shoreline a year), and has even been related to the changing seasonality and volume of lobsters in their waters.

The chapter also tells us, “On Prince Edward Island, we rely exclusively on groundwater for human consumption and agriculture. The commercial use of nitrates for the potato industry and the commercial and residential use of pesticides and herbicides are contaminating our drinking water. There are a number of high capacity, deep water wells throughout the province. Currently, there exists a moratorium on the drilling of more of these wells, but residents of the Island are concerned that the moratorium may be lifted, benefiting commercial enterprises but diminishing both the quality and quantity of groundwater supply available for human consumption. Eventually our water table will respond causing serious environmental damage and affecting individual and municipal water supplies”

The samples of water they have sent come from the Hillsborough River and Ellen’s Creek, both of which drain into Charlottetown Harbour.

Adam Fenech, the director of UPEI’s climate research lab and co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize awarded for his work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has noted that the province’s temperature has increased about 1.6 degrees Celsius during the past 10 to 15 years, and that it is getting warmer and drier, especially in the area of the Hillsborough watershed.

The chapter says, “The Hillsborough River is a heritage river. The Mi’kmaq call it Elsetkook, meaning running close by high rocks. It is used for recreational purposes, is important to our fisheries and it has been called the Wetland Capital of PEI. Ellen’s Creek Watershed is the only remaining stream system within the City of Charlottetown that connects sea-run fish such as smelts and brook trout to the headwaters where they can spawn. There are over 250 watersheds in PEI. Inadequate control of soil erosion and nitrate run-off impact our watersheds resulting in siltation, damaging the eco-system.”

The chapter calls on the Trudeau government to:

  • Affirm water as a human right and a public trust

  • Take urgent action on climate change in order to stop melting glaciers, destructive weather patterns and rising oceans

  • Reinstate the laws governing environmental protection of all rivers, lakes and ground water in Canada

  • Stop tar sands expansion and any further development of pipelines carrying bitumen across Canada

  • State superiority of public rights over individual user rights

  • Recognize that water has rights beyond its usefulness to us and the right of other living beings to survive and thrive (rights of Mother Earth)

  • Give priority to the needs of people and communities over corporations

  • Recognize Indigenous title and jurisdiction to water

They highlight, “This water from Prince Edward Island is a gift to our new Prime Minister to remind him that water is a finite, precious source of life. It is the responsibility of each of us and of our government to take care of it for human consumption and use, for the habitat and consumption of other species, and for all future generations.”

For more on the Climate Welcome, please see this webpage.

Further reading
Powell River chapter sends water from Salish Sea to Trudeau to warn against pipelines (Nov. 3, 2015 blog)
Northwest Territories chapter draws water from Great Slave Lake for Trudeau (Nov. 2, 2015 blog)
Sudbury chapter collects water from Tilton Lake for PM Trudeau (Nov. 1, 2015 blog)
Fredericton chapter collects water from St. John River to oppose Energy East pipeline (Oct. 30, 2015 blog)
Saint John chapter collects Bay of Fundy water for plea to Trudeau government (Oct. 29, 2015 blog)
London chapter collects Thames River water for Trudeau’s ‘climate welcome’ (Oct. 28, 2015 blog)
Prince Albert chapter mails water to Trudeau as a climate welcome (Oct. 21, 2015 blog)