Consultation on the revised draft of the Water Withdrawal Regulations
The Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability considers issues concerning agriculture, fisheries, land, water, forests, wildlife, energy, natural resources, environment, climate change, and issues related to natural resources and the environment.
The Water Act was passed in 2017 and will be in force on June 16, 2021. Regulations to accompany the Act are being developed and the Committee would like to hear your input on the revised consultation draft of the Water Withdrawal Regulations.
If you or your organization would like to share your views, send us your comments by April 17, 2021, to:
- email: email@example.com
- fax: 902-368-5175
- hand delivery: Office of the Clerk, 197 Richmond Street (Church Street entrance)
- fill in this feedback form (please type "Water Withdrawal Regulations" in the subject)
Submissions will be published on this page.
Read the submissions to the committee
We are happy to see the Water Act proclaimed, but unfortunately there is a big mistake in the regulations for holding ponds filled from multiple wells. The problem is that together, those wells can draw as much water as a high capacity well. And under the regulations, those wells are allowed to continue pumping for the next five years. That would clearly be a threat to the water levels in local wells and streams, especially during times of drought.
As was proposed in the draft regulations, and as the all-party Legislative Committee recommended, there should not be any exemptions for compliance with the Water Act regulations, and there should be an immediate ban on new holding ponds.
Government is instead planning to give this exemption to existing holding ponds, and any others put in by June 16th. This error is encouraging farmers to build more huge well-water-fed ponds, increasing the demand on groundwater supply that is already stressed in some places. Those ponds also waste precious water due to increased evaporation.
In the rush to beat the regulation, there may be many new ponds being dug out as you read this.
There does need to be good policy to conserve groundwater and regulate large-scale irrigation in these times of climate change and frequent drought. That should include:
- Requiring a minimum soil organic matter of at least 3% in irrigated fields (so maximum water is retained in the topsoil and used by the crop),
- Metering and setting strict limits to amounts of water use for irrigation,
- Mandating best practice irrigation to reduce evaporation (e.g., time of day),
- Encouraging good tillage, crop rotation and cropping methods for water conservation,
- Expanding hedgerows, and
- Extensive forest conservation and tree planting to enhance groundwater retention.
Our province needs a Water Act with regulations that will really protect our precious water resources.
Tony Reddin & Marion Copleston,
I support and encourage the continuing courageous, collaborative and non-partisan work being done in service to all Islanders by the Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Sustainability.
Today, I just read your request for submissions in The Guardian. I am aware the Minister assumes full responsibility for all decisions made on this matter and does not respect the input of the committee. I assume he is influenced by corporate sponsors of his political party. I am aware of members of School Boards and Health Authorities resigning in mass when it became apparent they had little influence on decisions - it must feel sad to work hard to preserve the integrity of this resource and be left in the back seat
I would like to provide feedback in regards to high capacity wells. I would also like to mention that I do have a BSC in Geology, so I have some knowledge in this area.
High capacity wells are a bad idea. The science is actually not all that difficult to follow. You are going to have drawdown on the water table around a deep well and that can result in drying shallow wells .. as well as in areas closer to shore lines, you could increase salt water intrusion, draw down of water levels on streams and brooks, etc. And then add drought on top of that. It is a terrible idea to even think about it. Drought conditions are going to be worse for PEI in the future.
Violation of the rules to allow surface water removal from the Dunk River is not acceptable during a drought. So where exactly would you think the water is coming from during a drought condition when you do this? The only source would be ground water.
Farming practices should change. Allowing deep wells will not cut it.. You should look at other things such as promoting vertical farming, which uses less water for the crops that can benefit from that. Some farmland should even be removed from being farmed...based upon what I see in satellite and topography maps...
Wanting to allow deep wells using the excuse "whataboutthemism" is not an excuse to allow farmers to do it.. That is simply ridiculous to even suggest it in this time of climate change being a real issue.. The legislation needs to be more strictly enforced and applied to more to eliminate that "whataboutthemism" excuse.
The city of Charlottetown could have reduced their water consumption more if they had the foresight to use their grey water instead of dumping it into the Hillsborough river when they separate the lines a few years back. We do know the history with the Winter River. Climate conditions are worse now...
It is better to be safe than sorry.
You need to consider the following points:
- Grandfathering holding ponds is short-sighted.
- Water use has to be considered on a watershed-by-watershed basis, not based on provincial recharge averages.
- What’s likely to be fine in some areas won’t be in others.
- This decision is making some farmers winners and others losers.
- We need to ensure ALL farmers have access to a fair share of the water, not just those who built holding ponds.
- The Dunk River is one of few on PEI that still has a population of Atlantic Salmon!
I am very upset with the government's decision, against the best information available, to grandfather certain holding ponds. There are many reasons for my concern. These ponds give an unfair advantage to some farmers, usually though not always those using unsustainable farming methods, who are acting to protect only their own interests, without considering the impact on their local watershed.
Water use must be considered and managed on a watershed by watershed basis. Allowing these holding ponds is very short-sighted. What we need is strict compliance with the law by all, and strong enforcement against all who defy the law. Drought may become a regular feature of PEI summers. We need laws and policies that protect our most precious resource and also encourage better and more sustainable soil and water management practices.
Please re-think the regulations allowing these holding ponds and do not protect the large corporate farming interests who care nothing about PEI, but only their own profits.
Linda M. Gaudet
Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability