Broderick & Barlow raise concerns about deep well irrigation in PEI

The Packer has reported, "Several years ago, the government placed a moratorium on irrigation wells to allow time to study how many the island would be able to support. The 12-month review period ended a long time ago, but no decision has been made, which is frustrating growers who want to add irrigation, especially when surface water irrigation has been limited because of low river levels. ...Recent years have brought less-than-average rainfall to Prince Edward Island, and potato growers have found that a difficult challenge to overcome since irrigation isn’t an option for many growers. ...Gary Linkletter, president and co-owner of Linkletter Farms, said he hopes the (provincial government) will issue more deep water well permits."

But the Journal Pioneer reports, "Leo Broderick with the Council of Canadians said 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', he said. 'Eventually our water table will respond causing serious environmental damage and affecting individual and municipal water supplies.'"

"Maude Barlow, national chair of the Council of Canadians and the United Nations’ first senior adviser on water issues 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.'"

"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.'"

The article adds, "Growers say that ... the province has ample groundwater resources for supplemental irrigation. (They also) say that supplemental irrigation for growing crops in Prince Edward Island is used only during the height of the growing season and would only be used for a limited number of days per year on each field and is in stark contrast to the 365 days per year that water is drawn from deep wells for municipal water supplies."

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.