What an interesting 24
hours it has been!
From Friday's Guardian (article below):
Activists raise raise
concern over deep-well irrigation to P.E.I. MLAs - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
Guardian on-line on February 27, print edition Feb 28th, 2014
A coalition made up of 16 groups and over 200 individuals from across P.E.I. urged MLAs Thursday to keep the current moratorium on deep-well irrigation in place.
The newly formed Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water made an impassioned presentation Thursday to a provincial standing committee currently holding hearings on the issue of deep-water wells.
Coalition spokeswoman Catherine OʼBrien told the MLAs on the committee more extensive public consultation and review must take place Protection of P.E.I. Water make a case against before any move is made to allow more of lifing the moratorium on deep-well irrigation to these wells to be drilled.
“It is imperative that respect for protecting fresh water be at the forefront
of these discussions,” OʼBrien said.
Over 50 supporters and members of the coalition packed into the normally empty public gallery of the committee chamber to show their support.
The issue has sparked a heated public debate over water use in Prince Edward Island, and whether the province has enough groundwater to support industrial irrigation of potato crops.
The P.E.I. Potato Board and Cavendish Farms argue some Island farmers need access to more water in order to keep pace with competitors in the mid-western United States.
They also point to data compiled by the provincial Department of Environment showing P.E.I. has a high annual recharge rate and that increasing the use of groundwater for irrigation of crops would use only a fraction of available groundwater resources.
But the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water says this data is incomplete and should be peer-reviewed by scientists, experts and the public to ensure all relevant information has been included.
This was one of five recommendations presented to the standing committee Thursday.
The coalition also wants a comprehensive water policy developed for Prince Edward Island, suggesting perhaps a commission could be struck for this purpose.
It further wants government to determine and publish the full environmental, agricultural and environmental costs of lifting the deep-well ban.
“This is a time when we should be exercising particular care about the use and protection of our water,” OʼBrien said.
“We canʼt afford the risk of being wrong.”
Miʼkmaq Keptin John Joe Sark also shared his concerns over the effects the wells could have on P.E.I.ʼs water resources.
He said he would be the first to launch a court action should P.E.I.ʼs water be
contaminated as a result of the wells.
Next week, the National Farmers Union, the PEI Watershed Alliance, the Central
Queens Branch of the P.E.I. Wildlife Federation and Innovative Farms Group will
have their chance at the committee table.
Published February 27, 2014Photo by The Guardian
For almost six years, I volunteered on the P.E.I. Environmental Advisory Council (EAC). I always appreciated the many presentations made to the EAC by staff and experts from the Environment Department and other federal and provincial public servants.
My final two years on the EAC were as chair. My objectives were to be fair, objective and engage the EAC council to participate objectively in debate on the many issues that concerned the environment on P.E.I.
Finally, we respectfully advised the P.E.I. ministers of environment in accordance of the terms of reference for the EAC. When I began volunteering the EAC had just released the report “Upstream Downstream” and unfortunately many of the reportʼs recommendations still have not been dealt with.
I believe our greatest work was our foundation document on a Conservation Strategy for P.E.I. Retired judge Ralph Thompsonʼs report, Commission on Land and Local Governance, gave the EAC the direction in his second recommendation to create a Conservation Strategy for P.E.I.
Our objective was to develop a discussion paper towards such a strategy. This document was finished just as the Plan B protests began and public meetings on a P.E.I. conservation strategy were stalled. We had begun a broad, open conservation strategy to protect P.E.I.ʼs natural capital, including our groundwater. This must include all the stakeholders which rely on P.E.I.ʼs ground water. Every Islander, scientists, industry representatives and all levels of government need to be at the table. An adequate supply of quality water is our life.
The issue of fracking, deep wells and the seriousness of protecting our ground water need to be addressed. Recent public comments on deep wells have caused me, and many others, great concern.
“Protecting our ground water is not debatable” was Environment Minister Janice Sherryʼs first comments to me as chair of the EAC. How times have changed after watching the recent CBC interview where Minister Sherry said the “P.E.I. Potato Board will educate Islanders about deep wells.”
I am sorry but that is not acceptable for any environment minister to say. If she or any government were concerned then they would make public the data they have on all public wells to show the conservation and quality of the water. Bring the scientists, agronomists and the data forward, let their peers and all Islanders judge what quality of water we want to drink.
I have not spoken to any farmer yet who wants to pay for an expensive irrigation system they donʼt need, donʼt want and certainly none want to damage our ground water.
I havenʼt heard that producers will get any extra dollars for a hundred weight of potatoes produced with an irrigation system. I also donʼt expect Island taxpayers will want to pay for a subsidy scheme to pay for this equipment to sit in a field for all but one in 10 years.
During my six years on the EAC, we had the opportunity to bring in scientists and experts to explain many issues about the P.E.I. environment, including ground water.
One particularly graphical presentation was made by a provincial hydrologist, Mr. Yefang.
His research showed the levels of nitrates found in test wells deeper into P.E.I. wells over a 20-year period. This data was taken from an area of high irrigation and agricultural production. Surely this data was made available throughout the government. What else are they not telling us? Why wonʼt they release this presentation and other data? The public needs to see all of the science.
I encourage all scientists and agronomists to step up to the plate and make your data known. Protecting our environment is about our health, life and prosperity where we live today.
Alan Hicken of South Pinette is the former chairman of the P.E.I.
Environmental Advisory Council.
was a packed room at the Rodd Charlottetown last night to hear Maude Barlow,
Chair of the Council of Canadians, and Reg Phalen, organic farmer and member of
the National Farmers' Union, John Joe Sark, and biologist Daryl Guignion
speak. CBC reported 200 but it was actually closer to 300.
A huge wave of appreciation to Leo Broderick, vice chair of the Council of Canadians, who along with many volunteers made the day's events happen.
And what can people do now?:
The Eastern (and West Prince)Graphic email@example.com
Regarding water issues and especially the high capacity wells, there are three events happening in the next two days that you are most welcome to attend:
And, if you live in the Brackley area, tonight is the public meeting with Minister Vessey about plans to move the "government garage" from Riverside Drive by the Civic Centre and the Wendy's/Tim's to a piece of land that was a 100-acre farm just outside Charlottetown city limits on Route 15. If you want to decide for yourself if this is a good use of government money and farmland, I believe it is at the Brackley Community Centre tonight.
Have a great day, and hope you can come out to any or all of these events!
Members of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water to-date include (and I am sure I am missing some):
Citizens’ Alliance of PEI
Council of Canadians
Don’t Frack PEI
Environmental Coalition of PEI
Green Party PEI
National Farmers Union, District 1, Region 1
New Democratic Party of PEI
PEI Watershed Alliance
Pesticide Free PEI
Save Our Seas and Shores
Sierra Club PEI
Winter River – Tracadie Bay Watershed Association
And the statement that will be read by Boyd Allen today at the press
conference from the Coalition (with thanks for sharing that):
By mid-January, 2014, PEI residents had some time to examine the proposal to lift the moratorium on high capacity irrigation wells brought forward to Government by the processing industry and the PEI Potato Board. This became the catalyst for a groundswell of thoughtful and informed opinions which flooded an array of media across the island.
The Citizens' Alliance of PEI sent out invitations island-wide to engage people and organizations to meet and address this issue. From this, and subsequent meetings, The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water emerged. Our organization is composed of concerned citizens and includes The Citizens' Alliance of PEI, the PEI Watershed Alliance, Pesticide PEI, District 1, Region 1 of the National Farmers Union, Green Party of PEI, Environmental Coalition of PEI, Don’t Frack PEI, Cooper Institute, Several Watershed Groups, Council of Canadians, New Democratic Party of PEI, Sierra Club PEI, Save Our Seas and Shores. Among the coalition members are a number of physical, natural, and social scientists. The aim of this community-based organization is to share resources, skills and time to offer an informed, unified public voice in a process in which this voice traditionally has limited access.
The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water strongly opposes any lifting of the moratorium on new high capacity irrigation wells.
We feel that the monitoring and enforcement component attached to the existing high capacity wells is inadequate.
We feel that the data compiled to support the lifting of the moratorium is incomplete.
We recommend an opportunity for peer review of the water extraction policy, the data and the models used to support it.
We recommend the establishment and funding of a transparent, inclusive public consultation process to examine all aspects of this policy.
We recommend the establishment of a multi-disciplinary commission to develop a comprehensive, integrated water policy for PEI.
The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water will be presenting our position on maintaining the moratorium on high capacity wells to the standing Committee of Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry 1:30 pm tomorrow, Thursday 26 February at the Coles Building.
Help save Anticosti Island
(It's in French but the content is easy to understand.)
Suzuki – Trading water for fuel is fracking crazy"It would be difficult to live without oil and gas. But it would be impossible to live without water. Yet, in our mad rush to extract and sell every drop of gas and oil as quickly as possible, we’re trading precious water for fossil fuels." More here:
Not at all related to Plan
B, but good words, from one of the most honest, caring elder this Island
Published on February 20, 2014
I think that to win a silver medal at Olympics is a tremendous accomplishment. The pressure thatʼs being put on these athletes by the public is beyond what is reasonable because they put so much pressure on themselves. Patrick Chan has nothing to apologize for. Heʼs a fine athlete, an outstanding skater. I went to his website and sent him an e-mail to tell him not to give up his dream.
Heather Moyse did win gold, and she can be very proud of herself for everything sheʼs accomplished, and most important of all, what a great role model she is for young people.
I think that photo of Patrick Chan with his silver medal should have been on the front page, not one of him falling. For any athlete to make it to Olympics is an amazing accomplishment, even if they donʼt win a medal.
Janet Gordon Gaudet,
Published on February 20, 2014
According to Wikipedia, an Olympic-sized swimming pool contains 2.5 million litres of water, with a volume of 88,0000 cubic feet. It is easy to determine that one cubic foot of water would be 144 feet in height on a single square inch of P.E.I. soil. It follows that 88,000 cubic feet would be 2,400 miles high! That is for a single Olympic-sized swimming pool. For 154 pools, this tower of water would reach an amazing 369,600 miles in height, which is 1.5 times further away than the moon. Hmm. That would be one wicked replenishment rate.
According to Island information, however, “the average yearly rainfall is 1125.8 mm and the average yearly snowfall is 318.2 mm” on Prince Edward Island. That translates to approximately 1.5 meters (or 5 feet) of precipitation per year.
Comparing 369,600 miles to 5 feet, we can determine that the Olympic-sized pool reference is out by a factor in excess of 390 million. Clearly, either Mr. Raymond was misunderstood or he misinterpreted the data. Either way, it seems clear — it would be better to simply disregard any future reference to swimming pools.
from Wikipedia -- good advice:
"Skiers (Drivers) absorb the impact of the bumps by bending at the knees and hips. In a good run, shoulders remain parallel to the finish line, turns should be quick and short, and skis (tires) should not leave the snow (road) surface."
If I have sent this around before, it is worth a second read:
Published on February 07, 2014
As recently as last fall, American production was down six per cent, a reduction the president of the United Potato Growers of America said was needed to balance the market. So, it seems lower production equals higher prices, and higher prices benefit growers.
This makes me wonder who stands to benefit from higher production and, presumably, lower prices. The answer would seem to be those who buy potatoes - the processors — rather than those who grow them.
Exxon CEO Joins Lawsuit Against Fracking Project Because It Will Devalue His $5 Million Property - By Rebecca Leber
As ExxonMobil’s CEO, it’s Rex Tillerson’s job to promote the hydraulic fracturing enabling the recent oil and gas boom, and fight regulatory oversight. The oil company is the biggest natural gas producer in the U.S., relying on the controversial drilling technology to extract it.
The exception is when Tillerson’s $5 million property value might be harmed. Tillerson has joined a lawsuit that cites fracking’s consequences in order to block the construction of a 160-foot water tower next to his and his wife’s Texas home.
The Wall Street Journal reports the tower would supply water to a nearby fracking site, and the plaintiffs argue the project would cause too much noise and traffic from hauling the water from the tower to the drilling site. The water tower, owned by Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation, “will sell water to oil and gas explorers for fracing [sic] shale formations leading to traffic with heavy trucks on FM 407, creating a noise nuisance and traffic hazards,” the suit says.
Though Tillerson’s name is on the lawsuit, a lawyer representing him said his concern is about the devaluation of his property, not fracking specifically.
When he is acting as Exxon CEO, not a homeowner, Tillerson has lashed out at fracking critics and proponents of regulation. “This type of dysfunctional regulation is holding back the American economic recovery, growth and global competitiveness,” he said in 2012. Natural gas production “is an old technology just being applied, integrated with some new technologies,” he said in another interview. “So the risks are very manageable.”
In shale regions, less wealthy residents have protested fracking development for impacts more consequential than noise, including water contamination and cancer risk. Exxon’s oil and gas operations and the resulting spills not only sinks property values, but the spills have leveled homes and destroyed regions.
Exxon, which pays Tillerson a total $40.3 million, is staying out of the legal tangle. A company spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal it “has no involvement in the legal matter.”
Despite the imperative
headline given to it (it was different in the peicanada.com website as
"Deep water wells risk turning ocean into salt water desert"), it is
an interesting letter to contemplate:
Published on February 20, 2014 in
The water flow in the confined aquifer is referred to as the ʻdeeper circulationʼ and is on a regional scale and not restricted to watersheds. Once the confined aquifer enters under the ocean it is called the confined submarine groundwater discharge (CSGD) aquifer. This deeper circulation through the CSGD affects directly the productivity of the ocean and has been and is being impacted in P.E.I. by human activities of the surface.
The proper jurisdiction of the confined aquifer should be the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The CSGD aquifer is driven by the deeper circulation of the confined aquifer on land, gravity in the end. Man should not be drilling into the confined aquifer on land and withdrawing its water. Municipal wells are not excluded. The deep water wells that have been drilled are removing water from the deep circulation and are reducing the productivity of the fisheries. We are killing the ocean. Existing deep water wells should be sealed off at where they puncture the confined aquifer. The confined aquifer should be sealed off and truly deep geological exploration wells should have casings to 300 meters at least.
We should thank the persons who had the wisdom to place a moratorium on deep water drilling in 2003. We must restore the deeper circulation; otherwise, we run the risk of turning the ocean into a saltwater desert.
Events coming up this week
and beyond, a bit inconsistently reported:
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.
yesterday's Guardian, there was a syndicated article titled "N.B.
seeking Atlantic Accord for unexplored offshore". It's not on the Guardian
website, but I found it in several places on the web:
New Brunswick seeks Atlantic Accord of its own for unexplored
offshore - The Canadian Press by Kevin Bissett
FREDERICTON - The government of New Brunswick is seeking an Atlantic Accord of its own as it looks offshore to reverse its economic decline.
The province's Progressive Conservative government has set its sights on natural resources with the hope that oil and gas can pump some revenues into its coffers.
While the government has been focused on developing a shale gas industry, it has recently turned its attention to its largely unexplored offshore fields. Premier David Alward told a business audience three weeks ago that talks to draft an offshore accord have begun with the federal government in order to ensure New Brunswick can reap the benefits of any future development.
It's not known whether there is a commercially viable reservoir of oil or gas under New Brunswick's 2.3-million hectare offshore. Some seismic exploration work was done from the 1960s into the early 1980s, but that's as far as it went.
But that hasn't stifled the provincial government's enthusiasm.
"There's potential there," Energy Minister Craig Leonard said in an interview.
"When you look around and see what has taken place in the offshores of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Quebec, we're not that far away from those locations that work is being done. So you would think that there might be some potential there."
Leonard said new technology will be applied to the existing data in an effort to get a clearer picture on potential petroleum resources.
Paul Barnes, Atlantic Canada manager for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said New Brunswick has plenty of groundwork ahead before it can arouse industry interest.
"More certainly needs to be done and packaged up and marketed to industry before I believe industry would consider doing work there," Barnes said.
"That area seems to have some prospectivity to it, but it's at the very early stages as to whether there's enough interest for companies to do any activity."
The Atlantic Accord has been pivotal to Newfoundland and Labrador's economic turnaround. The agreement allows that province and Nova Scotia to tax offshore resources as though they are the owner, even though that falls to the federal government.
The deal also shelters those provinces from offshore resource revenue clawbacks in equalization, though Newfoundland and Labrador stopped receiving payments from the federal wealth-sharing program in 2008.
The agreement has funnelled more than $5 billion to Newfoundland and Labrador and about $1.1 billion to Nova Scotia.
"Newfoundland's economy is doing extremely well because of their offshore agreements and Nova Scotia is starting to come into that area as well," Leonard said.
Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore industry dwarves Nova Scotia's, boasting the Hibernia, White Rose and Terra Nova offshore oil platforms. The Hebron offshore project is in development and aiming to come online in 2017.
But Nova Scotia has seen the Deep Panuke natural gas project come on stream last year and two major exploration projects could be on the horizon. Shell Canada (TSX:SHC) completed 3D seismic imaging off the province's southwestern shore last year and could begin exploratory oil drilling late next year. BP plans to acquire seismic data this year and next about 300 kilometres southeast of Halifax.
Wade Locke, a professor of economics at Memorial University in Newfoundland, said an offshore accord is also important because it can remove uncertainty that could block development or cause arguments over ownership and revenue allocation.
"Without that, you will lose half of your
money in equalization now and you will also not have the ability to strongly
suggest to people that they should be doing economic development with local New
Brunswick companies," Locke said.
Some information on yet another issue affecting farming:
when agriculture, emphasis on "culture", is being affected by
agri-business, which sounds so trendy and organized, but is it in the best
interest of people growing food for people?
Farmers split on
Agricultural Growth Act National: Farmers
Union opposed to restrictions on seed use - CBC News website article
CBC News Posted: Feb 18, 2014 6:54 AM AT Last Updated: Feb 18, 2014 8:29 AM AT
Two major farmers' groups in Canada are split on whether restrictions on seed use in the federal government's Agricultural Growth Act are good or bad for farmers.
'You have to ask the question, who is this benefiting?'- Steven Mackinnon, National Farmers Union
Members of the National Farmers Union on P.E.I. are fighting against Bill C-18. They believe part of the bill will take away farmers rights to save, reuse, exchange and sell seeds.
"There is a lot of things in it that would either hinder or hamper farmers in the future from saving their own seed. Farmers and people around the world have been saving their own seed for 10,000 years. You have to ask the question, who is this benefiting?" said Steven Mackinnon, district director of the National Farmers Union on P.E.I.
"Also, if you leave it in the private, multinational corporations, the government will do a lot less public research on different seed varieties and etc. So there will be less and less varieties probably to choose from."
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture, however, takes a different view. It believes the bill will better align Canada with the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, and strikes a good balance between ensuring variety developers have the ability to see a return on investment for their plant breeding research efforts, while also preserving the right for farmers to save and condition seed for their own use.
Ottawa maintains the bill will encourage investment in plant breeding in Canada and improve accessibility to foreign seed varieties for farmers. It says farmers will have the right to save and clean or treat seed for replanting on their own land.
Other areas of the proposed legislative changes would make it easier for farmers and industry to meet government requirements, by reducing red tape and delivering programs more effectively, government representatives say.
NFU members on P.E.I. are holding a meeting Wednesday night in Cornwall to develop a strategy to defeat Bill C-18, or at the very least have changes made.
This notice was in the Island Farmer newspaper and on peicanada.com's
The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) is an intergovernmental organization with headquarters in Geneva (Switzerland).
UPOV was established by the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants. The Convention was adopted in Paris in 1961 and it was revised in 1972, 1978 and 1991.
UPOV's mission is to provide and promote an effective system of plant variety protection, with the aim of encouraging the development of new varieties of plants, for the benefit of society.Have (another) great snow day
I had reason to be on Plan
B last night while it was flurrying. Of course I am biased, but it was
bad -- poor visibility, very hard to see where you were on the road, lights or
not, snow blowing up from the steep hillside over the road, etc. It
appears difficult to manage resources of salt and snowplowing effectively on
such a wide road bed.
Hope you will enjoy the
different pace of things today as some people have an Islander Day vacation
Published on February 12, 2014
There was to be an
interesting illustrated talk about "The Vinland Map" by Dr. Richard
Raiswell at the Irish Cultural Centre tonight, sponsored by The Vinland Society
--**it has been postponed for one week until Sunday, February 23rd, 7PM. More
details later this week.
Corridor soars on TSX after deal inked - The Chronicle-Herald article by Brett Bundale, Business Reporter
Published February 14, 2014
Published on February 11, 2014
Seven DFO libraries, including the Eric Marshall Library of the Freshwater Institute at the University of Manitoba and the St. Andrews Biological Station in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, are being closed down.
Burt Ayles, former regional director for freshwater, described the Marshall
library as “world class” and “the best in Canada.”
Gail Shea, Minister of DFO, claims that closing libraries is value for
taxpayers, yet the St. Andrews Station is brand new, and cost several million
The holdings of the shuttered libraries go back decades, and provide baseline data upon which to record and evaluate changes brought about by the introduction of chemicals, invasive species and long term processes, like climate change and the acidification of the oceans.
DFO has defunded world-class research laboratories, including the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), the only whole-lake freshwater lab of its kind in the world; the marine contaminants program, led by Dr. Peter Ross, who revealed PCB contamination of killer whales; and the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Lab (PEARL), the furthest northern arctic research lab in the world.
These programs, said Dr. Ross, allow us to keep “our finger on the pulse of whatʼs happening” in the natural world and enable scientists to advise governments on how to maintain vibrant economies and minimize hazards to human health and to the health of the land, fish and animals.
These labs are living libraries, for taking samples, recording and creating data available now and to future generations of scientists from across the world.
About the threat to close ELA, Israeli oceanographers and lake scientists said, that the government “is stamping out the ability of the world scientific community to conduct the research required to formulate sound environmental policies.”
They are right. Protecting the natural world requires a global, co-operative effort. Canada has the scientists, the labs and a track record of global contributions. Let us continue to fund science and create real value for Canadians.
Peter King, Kenora, ON
Guardian story on the Standing Committee meeting with Minister Sherry:
It contains an unfortunate error in that the oft-quoted "154 Olympic
swimming pools of water is the recharge rate" is listed for a square inch,
not kilometre. If it were inch, then perhaps we could support dozens
and dozens and dozens of wells, or be waterlogged like poor Great
Olympic size pool holds 2,500 cubic meters. The average annual recharge
to groundwater on PEI for a square kilometer is ~385,000 cubic meters
each year. 385,000
/ 2,500 = 154 pools".
Published on February 14, 2014 in
They are selfish.
Their own desire for wealth must come first. They are not
satisfied with the rain the good Lord sends. That proves their attitude.
Published on February 14th, 2014
Environment Minister Janice Sherry says government has made no decisions on
deep-well irrigation and the moratorium will not be lifted unless itʼs proven
it will not diminish the quantity or quality of P.E.I.ʼs groundwater.
This recharge rate is equal to 154 Olympic-sized swimming pools for every
square inch of the Island, he told the committee.
government went to the potato board and said, ʻHey you should
ask for this because weʼll probably give it to youʼ,” Myers said.
Agriculture Critic Colin LaVie questioned Sherry on the involvement of the
premierʼs former chief of staff, Chris LeClair, and former Liberal MLA Cynthia
King. The two were hired to help the potato board lobby in favour of deep-water
“I donʼt have a role to play in that, thatʼs totally a private business hiring someone to provide a service for them. Thatʼs got nothing to do with government,” Sherry said.
“When you talk about educate, is this process already done?” LaVie asked.
Sherry stressed that nothing has gone before cabinet on this issue and that all
opinions and data are continuing to be assessed.
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa**I guess the MLAs getting private meetings are the ones who are getting educated?
Regarding the government's acknowledgement of concerns about
high capacity wells:
Today is the first Standing
Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry regarding
the high capacity well issue.
Published on January 30, 2014
There has not been a comprehensive study done of the hydrogeology of Prince
Edward Island. Researchers from the Universities of Calgary and Guelph have
only recently begun the first such study on P.E.I.
Martha Howatt and Peter
Bower, who to me represent all the hard-working volunteers on watershed
associations, made time to write this clear message:
Published on February 11, 2014
These names are among those of the professionals whose expertise we seek when our watershed organizations apply for provincial funding and other grants. These are the names the government wants to see on our applications. They can make the difference between approval and rejection. These are the kinds of professionals who are in the streams and rivers observing water run off and erosion, anoxic events and associated fish kills from excessive nitrates, and estuaries dying from the spread of sea lettuce.
We cannot add any information they havenʼt provided from their many years of involvement in these issues near and dear to all of us, but we can add what they have to say is borne out by our years of work on our watersheds.
Nevertheless, we do have questions, including how will the noise, smell and sight of massive diesel pumps sitting in fields affect tourism? Will taxpayers again be subsidizing some farmers for drilling and purchasing the necessary equipment because it is doubtful that they will offset these costs by increased potato production? Is there any way to estimate the quantity of water that will be drawn from these wells?
The deep-well promoters and lobbyists maintain the farmers involved are
concerned about the Islandʼs water resources. It is an understatement to point
out we are all concerned, including the NFU which suggests that there may be
South Shore Watershed Association is a cooperative effort of four watersheds,
west of the West River -- Augustine Cove, DeSable, Tryon and Westmoreland. http://www.sswa.ca/
and provincial thoughts:
These are open to the public as spectators, as those of you who attended ones in previous years regarding Plan B or fracking know; the public sits off to one side and is expected to be quiet.
This committee is not meeting next Thursday, February 20th, but they are on the 27th, when the Citizens' Alliance and the group it help form regarding this issue will have a few minutes before the committee. (The group is called the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Waters, and has representatives from most of the Island groups opposed to the moratorium being lifted.)
few events to note:
Allowing hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick solves nothing - The Guardian Commentary by David A. McGregor, Stratford
Published on January 23, 2014
Workers at U.S. Steel and Allegheny Energy near McKeesport found that water used to power their plant contained so much salty sediment it was corroding their machinery. An estimated 10,000 fish died on a 33-mile stretch of Dunkard Creek in this area.
Furthermore, in June 2010, Vanity Fair wrote a story about the small town of
Dimock, also in Pennsylvania. It states “Dimock is now known as the place
where, over the past two years, peopleʼs water started turning brown and making
them sick, one womanʼs water well spontaneously combusted, and horses and pets
mysteriously began to lose their hair.
What makes all of the above more of a travesty is that it doesnʼt even help the
U.S. economy in the long run.
From the fake news release, they quote "the Premier":
"I want to be crystal clear, that we are supportive of shale gas companies, and their potential as an industry to prevent us from drinking our water. To not take advantage of our citizens would be one of the most irresponsible things a government could do,” .
Premier Duffer Alewife used his annual state of the province speech to reiterate his government’s “crystal clear” commitment to destroying the environment in New Brunswick, regardless of any potential political repercussions.
The government is looking to the development of unsustainable resources, such as shale gas, and a new plan for the forestry sector, to be released within days, to grow the share price of foreign energy companies, create temporary, low paying jobs, and create an environmental deficit, Alewife told the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce on Thursday night.
Alewife has touted the controversial shale gas industry before, but the speech was his final state of the province address of his career, with the provincial election just eight months away.
“I want to be crystal clear, that we are supportive of shale gas companies, and their potential as an industry to prevent us from drinking our water. To not take advantage of our citizens would be one of the most irresponsible things a government could do,” he said.
“I’ve had many people ask me why we are doing all these things, slow down, take the easy way out. That may be the most politically prudent approach, but I didn’t sign up for this job to stand still and not cash in on every last drop of dirty energy.”
During the 54-page speech, entitled Forgetting the Past, Destroying the Future, Alewife said he believes the province is now poisoned for an excruciating and cancerous future.
“Three years of ignoring the facts to push our ecological situation to the brink has set the stage for New Brunswick’s destruction, but only if we choose to exploit the environment before us,” he said.
So much stuff! Here
are two good letters from week before last, and the link to the presentation by
the Department of Environment, Labour and Justice on the water extraction
Published on January 30, 2014
Now, Gary Linkletter has started this education remit with a treatise (Guardian, 25 Jan. - Guest Opinion) that attempts to explain the case for allowing corporate farming to access this precious water source by citing in the name of science conclusions from a government report. Is this the same report that the minister said would not be made available to the public, because it “was sent to me?”
So, it is hidden science. It is also science that obfuscates rather than clarifies. Mr. Linkletter makes no distinction between the shallower aquifers currently in public use and the deep-water source that would be accessed. We are given no information on the methodology used to form the conclusions. Respected environmental scientist Daryl Guignion believes there is insufficient scientific knowledge about the size and replenishment rate of the deep-water source to warrant lifting the moratorium. I agree.
Mr. Linkletter makes no mention of the quality of the deep water that he and
his group would like to access. And for good reason.
Aside from the fact most of the water will be wasted through evaporation,
irrigation of heavily contaminated fields will speed up the leaching of
agro-chemicals through the soil into our drinking water supply. And we are the
only province in Canada totally dependent on groundwater. What is needed is not
more potatoes, more pesticides, more fertilizers, but fewer potatoes, a more
diversified agro-economy, with less reliance on toxicants. Water is a resource
that belongs to the people of the province, not a sector of it. The minister
should just say no to this irresponsible request.
Published on January 29, 2014
How can our government even consider bargaining away our future for a handful of spuds? I have listened to the rhetoric on both sides and believe strongly in no more deep-water wells.
The potato industry would have us believe the science supports them. The only study I am aware of is almost a decade old. We cannot mortgage our future on 10-year-old science. Ten years ago the City of Charlottetown would have told you there was no water problem. We now know differently. Todayʼs science would have a different outcome as well I bet.
Please make your opinions known. Please donʼt believe 10-year-old science. Please save our childrenʼs and grandchildrenʼs water.
If potato farmers need more water then maybe they should be looking at desalination plants. But they wonʼt. Itʼs too expensive and the government couldnʼt help so much. So maybe there needs to be a dialog about truly treasuring the land and water not just about increasing yields and money.
P.E.I. could be a world leader in farm practices . . . instead we are just
followers of dollars.
This is an article written by Jack MacAndrew submitted to the Maritime publication Rural Delivery (DvL Publishing) and printed in the January/February 2014 issue, which I just received; and I reprint here, with Jack's permission:
"Fracking" - No , it is not a euphemism for another "F" word not usually employed in polite company, or in a family magazine such as this.
It is, in fact , a made-up word - a grammatical invention, so to speak, conjured up as a bit of technospeak to describe a process by which natural gas may be extracted from the depths of planet earth, to the benefit of anyone who cooks their food, drives an automobile and huddles for wintertime warmth; not to exclude shareholders in multi-national energy companies who may get unspeakably rich from this resource belonging to all of us.
We have always had this habit of adding the letters "ing" to a noun, so as to turn it into a verb: as in fish-fishing, truck-trucking, helicopter - helicoptering.
In the case of fracking, there is no noun. There is no such a thing as a frack; no animal, vegetable or mineral known as a frack. You can't see one, touch one or box one to send off to grandma on her birthday. Fracking, is a total grammatical invention, invented so you don't need to keep saying - " hydraulic fracturing"- which can give you a headache if you say it often enough.
There is just - " fracking "; and for many ( for instance,those farmers in Ohio owning those cows whose tails began to drop off), that is fearsome enough.
There are a lot of people in Atlantic Canada who don't want big energy companies from away to come fracking down here, no matter what economic puffery and job projections the politicians and proponents offer as bait.
Indeed a recent poll tells us that about 70 per cent of Atlantic Canadians are ag'in it.
In Nova Scotia , the legislature has placed a similar restriction on fracking activity, at least until an independent committee verifies "...there is no risk to drinking water, human health, the climate or communities".
That is a very steep hill for proponents to climb. The committee will report back to government some time in 2014.
Newfoundland/Labrador has responded with the same sort of stance; and in Quebec, a moratorium has been in place for some time.
There's a ban in place in Massachusetts, and New York State, and in France as well.
But not in New Brunswick, as you may have noticed in your newspaper or on television newscasts lately.
Nosireebob... not in your New Brunswick. The government of that fair and picturesque province ("The Picture Province", I believe it is nicknamed in tourist advertisements ) has turned over 1.4 million acres of its land mass to the subsidiary of an American owned company (Southwestern Energy) called SWN Resources Canada so it may zip about in large white trucks sinking test drills and using other seismic technology wherever it believes the underearth may secrete pockets of gas in beds of brittle shale rock.
" Get to 'er lads...", invited Premier David Aylward, "... fill yer boots !"...all for a promise by the company to spend 47 million dollars in New Brunswick along with the unproven estimate of 1000 jobs and 1.5 billion big ones in economic activity; a price some would argue is merely a contemporary version of selling a birthright for the proverbial bowl of pottage.
And never no mind that more than 60 per cent of herrin'chokers of all political stripes said in a poll they did not want fracking in their province.
That would include members of the Elisipogtog First Nation, who pointed out to the provincial government that it had no business giving SWN permission to bore test holes on their territory ,for a very simple reason-the provincial government does not own that land and has no right to do so without their consent. The aboriginal people have never ceded it to any government under any treaty.
In November, months of peaceful protests ended and the barricades came down with massed and menacing police riot squads facing unarmed women and band elders, and according to one observer" .... shot rubber bullets at the mothers and the grandmothers, at the children".
The protests were deemed by pundit Rex Murphy "...a rude dismissal of Canada's generosity ..."
The warrior societies sent in their own troops to defend their people on Indian lands.
Then the whole shebang went south in a hurry.
The Prime Minister of Canada condemned the state use of riot squads to disperse and arrest peaceful protesters in the Ukraine.
He was so absorbed watching the massed cops in full riot gear over there, he didn't seem to notice massed cops in riot gear assaulting women and elders protesting on the Elisipogtog Reserve.
Police cars were burned in reprisal, and more than 40 Aboriginal and Acadien protesters were arrested. Most have since been released . Some are still facing serious charges.
SWN has now packed up its gear and driven away, presumably to some place more receptive to their activity.
But opposition to the fracking of New Brunswick has not gone into hibernation . Instead ,core groups are organizing and expanding the coalition of church groups, environmentalists, and other like minded souls to take on Premier David Aylward when he leads his government to the polls on September 14.
And in the other three Atlantic Provinces, those independent committees will be holding public meetings and reviewing such scientific literature as exists.
Which takes us to an explanation of what hydraulic fracturing (1.e fracking ) is, and what it does, and why it upsets so many people and makes them sick.
Here's the recipe for what is admittedly a toxic brew.
A slurry of so-called " Slick-water " is mixed up in a giant blender. The recipe calls for 90 per cent water; 5 percent sand ; and 5 percent chemical additives (acids , sodium chloride, polyacrylamide, ethylene glycol, borate salts, sodium/potassium carbonate, glutaraldehyde, guar gum, citric acid, and isopropanol, amongst other nasty stuff.
It's that 5 per cent of chemical additives which can cause a lot of misery should it permeate and pollute water drawn from underground aquifers.
The acid , by the way , is used to make the rock structure more permeable.
That's a special fear on Prince Edward Island. If you kick a rock in New Brunswick, chances are you'll break a toe. If you kick a rock in PEI chances are you'll break the rock. Already permeable sandstone, do you see.
Anyhow, having mixed up your mess of slurry, you then dig a hole in the ground that could be as deep as 6000 metres ( 20,000 feet ), dump it into the hole , and then pump it horizontally into shale rock at a pressure high enough to crack the rock.The slurry then moves further into the shale , fracking away as it goes along , releasing any gas trapped in pockets along the way.
The slurry and the natural gas then flow back up the borehole to the surface, where the millions of litres of slurry ( now termed " wastewater ") is diverted into plastic lined tanks dug into the earth's surface , and the gas is channeled into holding tanks.
A new study says that scientists who theorized that layers of impermeable rock would keep shallower aquifers pure are wrong in their conclusions; and that natural forces and fractures underground will allow chemicals to foul groundwater " ..in just a few years...".
Nova Scotia has already had that experience.
In 2007 the government issued a permit to Triangle Petroleum, allowing the company to
explore the presence of natural gas in Hants County.Triangle drilled five exploration wells , three of which were fracked. The company used and then stored 14 millions of litres of wastewater in artificial , plastic lined ponds.
Millions of litres of that highly polluted wastewater remains in those ponds.
It contains everything from known carcinogens to radio active material. Nobody knows what to do with the wastewater. Some of it was secretly released into the environment. Some of it has leaked from one of the ponds.
Indeed, the wastewater from fracking poses an enormous environmental problem all by itself.
A report on that experience, entitled " Out of Control: Nova Scotia's Experience with Fracking for Shale Gas" ,was prepared by the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition ( NOFRAC)and released in April of 2013.
It said : " At this time there is no scientific evidence indicating that any method of disposal of fracking wastewater is environmentally safe ": and that , " Emerging science is exposing unexpected and serious risks".
The report posed two choices for government ; press on with a trial-and-error learn as we go approach to shale gas development; or, slow down and look at all the costs and benefits , and especially the reality that if things go wrong , they may be unfixable.
The report notes that some of the effects of fracking may only become evident years later ; after the fracking company is long gone, and it's responsibility impossible to prove.
The people of Hants County know this better than anyone.
NOFRAC recommended either a ten year moratorium, or an outright ban on fracking.
During the months to come , both sides of the issue will undoubtedly produce volumes of documentation to prove their case .
The anti-frackers will have a rich record to draw on .
In Blackpool, England, a fracking company named Cuadrilla Resources admits : " It is highly probable that the hydraulic fracturing ( of a well ) did trigger a number of minor seismic events"- in other words - mini-earthquakes.
In Louisiana seventeen cows died after an hour's exposure to spilled fracking fluid; in Pennsylvania, 140 cattle were exposed to fracking wastewater when an impoundment was breached and 70 of them died while the others got sick;in Hickory , Pennsylvania , Darrell Smitsky got rashes on his body from exposure to toluene, acrylonitrite, strontium , barium and manganese;and in Washington County , Stacey Haney's dog and goats died, while her son and daughter suffered stomach and kidney pain along with nausea and mouth ulcers. Glycol and arsenic will do that to you.
The incidence of human and livestock ailments after exposure to fracking fluid and/or wastewater is extensive.
The case for fracking can only be expressed in vague, ambiguous forecasts, and promises made according to complex economic models.
The case becomes a spin doctor's challenge.
It's hard to convince people of an economic nirvana, when the other side counters with documented horror stories of individual suffering.
Which by itself raises an essential question - on which side does the burden of proof rest - with the frackers ,to guarantee no harm will result to people , their animals or the environment on the road to economic benefit; or the anti-frackers , maintaining there is no safe way to exploit the reserves of shale gas under our feet; and no particular need to do so in any case.
And this question emerges - We now know what happens when we send noxious gases skyward. So what does it do to the underearth environment when hundreds or thousands of explosions take place underground in a few hectares of land mass ?
We do not know with any certainty , and the penalty we would pay for challenging and changing the very foundations of planet earth evolved over eons of time - could be severe and irreversible.
The anti-fracking crowd will document hundreds of cases of visible harm; from benzene in the bathwater to cows without tails in the barnyard.
There is that matter of "unintended consequences", should the energy companies frack away to their bankers' joy .And if they come at the expense of farmers and country people, what recourse will there have when the well goes sour and the water is undrinkable for them or their livestock?
**The one fact I am not sure of is legislation this spring in the PEI Legislature about fracking, based on Minister Sherry's comments from a couple of weeks ago.
I would also mention that Rural Delivery, if you haven't ever read a copy, is a great publication (as are the sister publications Atlantic Forestry, etc.)
The website is here, with older stories, but new monthly or bi-monthly issues are available at the feed stores and some bookstores. It's quite a good connection about people interested in living and working in their communities.
And some Farmers' Markets are open today.
Fun and Games:
Mr. Yeo said, "I was expecting that," when quality problems have already occurred on Plan B. Do we want Mr. Raymond to be saying that in a few years about water quality problems?
Ultimately, Islanders know, the responsibility for both of these decisions rests with the Premier.
and the Island Successor to Suess, Carl Mathis:
Published on February 06, 2014
the insert in yesterday's Guardian, The PEI Roadbuilders and Heavy
Construction Association annual insert. The publication is devoid of
bragging about Plan B (an outlook report wistfully mentions an additional $10
million from it last year for the "realignment" and describes 2014 as
likely to be a "slim year").
Stantec was hired by the province to produce the
Environmental Impact Assessment for Plan B, and certainly proud of their work.
Published on February 6th, 2014
A fiery meeting of MLAs on the contentious issue of deep-water irrigation wells ended Wednesday with a majority vote against calling two politically connected lobbyists to testify.
Opposition MLA Colin LaVie wanted the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry to call the premierʼs former chief of staff, Chris LeClair, and former Liberal MLA Cynthia King to appear.
The two have been hired by the Potato Board and Cavendish Farms to co-ordinate meetings with as many provincial MLAs as possible to lobby in favour of lifting the current moratorium on irrigation wells.
LaVieʼs request led to a heated exchange between government and Opposition MLAs Wednesday, especially when it came to light LeClair did not attend meetings with the Tory caucus or with Independent MLA Olive Crane, but did atend meetings with Liberal MLAs.
“They didnʼt see fit to attend our (meeting). Why?” said Opposition MLA James Aylward.
“I think this committee, Islanders in general, deserve to know what these
lobbyists are doing, what their agenda is.”
Liberal MLA Pat Murphy accused the Tories of playing politics on the issue of deep-water wells, which he said is a “very important issue to the province.”
But Opposition Leader Steven Myers frequently interrupted them.
“He was the premierʼs right-hand-man, heʼs lobbying on behalf of the potato industry, letʼs have him here,” he said.
“Does having Chris LeClair involved with this give whoever it is thatʼs lobbying for deep water wells... a direct line to the decision maker of this province. Thatʼs the question.
“It just screams political interference. I donʼt know why you wouldnʼt want to know if someone is trying to directly influence the premier.”
The only Liberal MLA who supported the idea of calling the two to testify was Buck Watts, who said he felt it was the only way they could clarify their roles and not continue to polarize the committee.
“After hearing the way this meeting is starting out, I think we should bring Cynthia King and Chris LeClair in to clear their name and find out exactly what they were doing, why they were doing it... who were they hired by, who were they paid by, whatʼs their reason for doing it,” Watts said.
“Weʼre going to be into a bloody mess all through if we donʼt get this straightened out off the bat, get this cleaned up, get this off the plate.”
But in the end, the request was denied in a vote of 4-3, with Watts voting with LaVie and Aylward. Casey, Murphy, Bush Dumville and Hal Perry defeated the motion.
After the meeting, LaVie said he believes the Liberals on the committee were the ones playing politics.
“Itʼs another sign theyʼve got something to hide,” he said.
“Theyʼre making a political issue out of it, and they said in the meeting they didnʼt want to make it political – then put them at the table. Let us hear it.”
The committee did, however agree to LaVieʼs request to call Environment Minister Janice Sherry to appear. The committee will further be delving into the hot-button issue of deep well irrigation for the next two months, with weekly meetings planned until the end of March.
After that, public consultations will be held to ensure all Islanders have the
chance to voice their opinions.
Assistant Deputy Minister of Environment, Prince Edward Island Department of Environment, Labour and JusticeAn opportunity to make a real difference
Based in Charlottetown, working as an Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) with the Government of Prince Edward Island, you can leverage your leadership skills, influence, and expertise to make a real difference as the province shapes its environmental initiatives for today and future generations. You will have responsibility for a wide range of programs, services and activities related to environmental protection, land development, and inspection services.
Your primary responsibilities as the ADM are to provide advice and support to the Minister and Deputy Minister of Environment, Labour and Justice, recommend and implement government policies and plans, provide leadership and guidance to related functional areas through the Director and senior management team, and manage fiscal and human resources. You will find the right solutions for the environment and the people of PEI.
And finally, in a sea of well-crafted, heartfelt letters about this high capacity well issue, this evocative one stuck with me:
Published on February 05, 2014
More water, more potatoes, more environmental degradation.
Since the science says P.E.I.ʼs deep- water supply can grow more potatoes, whatʼs the guarantee it will be done more safely to enhance the environment?
And why hasnʼt science disproven the theory that what weʼre growing and how weʼre growing it may be connected to P.E.I.ʼs high cancer rate?
Weʼve been told for years that growing more potatoes, like catching more lobsters, results in lower prices in the marketplace where we are a mere drop in the bucket, compared to Idaho and Western Canada where soils are rich and deep.
Using more water wonʼt change farming methods. Choosing to use more water to mitigate poor farming practices wonʼt work to enhance worn out soil, and improve the environment everyone shares.
Letʼs ask some basic questions here of our government or any other party that wants to form one:
- How will pumping more water to grow 30,000 more acres of potatoes stop environmental degradation?
- How will 30,000 acres more make P.E.I. a better place to be in 2103 when weʼre all gone and weʼve left the mess to families following us?
- What ever happened to the Liberal philosophy of Canadaʼs youngest premier in 1966 who said “the faster we go, the more behinder weʼll get”? Alex Campbell was 32 and just last month Premier Robert Ghiz turned 40. I think our premier needs to talk with Alex soon about a vision that hasnʼt become a reality to make P.E.I. stronger, and a better place to live.
We must become more than just a province where former Islanders come home to retire and then die, in a dying environment.
In this small Island heaven, weʼve got to get our furrows “straighter” before we “drift” any further.
Lorne Yeo, Argyle Shore
More about the high capacity wells from yesterday
Industry reports of deep-water wells still "opinion, not science." - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Daryl Guignion and Ian MacQuarrie
The industry says its competitors — growers in regions such as Washington and Idaho — produce more potatoes per acre than we can here. They say that yields in the western U.S. are increasing annually, and that irrigation is the key to increasing local yields and making P.E.I. competitive with these regions.
The fact is places like Washington and Idaho have many competitive advantages such as longer growing seasons and much deeper topsoil than we have on P.E.I. Irrigation will not change this. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and others have shown that soil quality, especially organic matter, is the key factor in productivity. Because of the land management choices made by P.E.I.ʼs potato industry, our soil quality has gotten worse Island-wide and this decline continues.
The industry says science shows that lifting the moratorium and allowing more irrigation would only use a tiny fraction of the groundwater recharge and would not overburden natural groundwater resources.
The fact is there is as yet no verified science on this. Industry is quoting unpublished and unreviewed reports from a government department and one hired consultant. This is opinion, not science.
Further, it is the opinion of a small group within government. Other government staff — those with expertise in fish, wildlife and wetlands, for example — have not been consulted. Until these reports are released to the public and peer-reviewed by independent experts, they should not be regarded as science.
The industry says additional irrigation would not affect residential or commercial use of groundwater.
The fact is potato production is already affecting Islandersʼ water and additional irrigation could make this worse. In heavily farmed areas of the province — places such as Albany, Borden-Carleton, Lower Freetown, Middleton and Mount Royal, for example — many private wells have nitrate levels higher than Health Canadaʼs guideline.
This nitrate is from chemical fertilizer used by agriculture, and the contamination is getting worse across P.E.I. Additionally, pumping irrigation water from deep underground can pull contaminated water from nearer the surface into the deeper levels. In the short term, homeowners can dig (and pay for) deeper wells. As contamination moves into deeper levels, even that may no longer work.
The industry says irrigation will produce healthier potatoes that require less fertilizer and pesticides. It says that potato growers understand the need to be conscientious stewards of the land and are committed to environmental sustainability.
The fact is past behaviour predicts future behaviour. Consider the potato industryʼs track record of “conscientious stewardship” and “environmental sustainability:”
- Soil erosion rates are more than 10 times higher than those deemed acceptable for agricultural land. More than 60,000 truckloads are lost from P.E.I. farmland into our streams and rivers every year and the situation is not improving.
- Nitrate — chemical fertilizer from farmland — contaminates the majority of private wells on P.E.I., with many above the accepted Canadian drinking water guidelines. This contamination worsens each year.
- Excessive sea lettuce — caused by nitrates — chokes many bays and estuaries, with direct economic impacts on P.E.I.ʼs shellfish and other industries. The stinking conditions that this situation creates are happening earlier and in more areas each year.
- More than 50 fish kills have been reported across P.E.I., including two in the past year. Despite annual Government and industry statements that fish kills are unacceptable, they continue.
- Opposition to action that would address these problems. P.E.I.ʼs potato industry has consistently refused to accept responsibility for these issues.
It is clear that this denial of responsibility continues: their position paper clearly states that industry seeks increased access to water with no new regulatory restrictions beyond the Agricultural Crop Rotation Act. It has been publically reported that many potato producers do not even comply with this Act at present.
We call on government to implement the following before making a decision on industryʼs request:
- Open up governmentʼs opinion on water availability to peer review. This would include the water extraction policy and the models used to develop it.
- Develop a Water Policy for Prince Edward Island that clearly outlines how clean and high-quality water will be provided for current and future generations. Development of this policy requires public consultation.
- Determine and make public the true economic impact of the potato industry on P.E.I. This includes its economic contributions, as well as the clean-up costs currently borne by the public, as well as subsidies and rebates paid to it by taxpayers.
- Establish an Action Group to develop a new Agricultural Strategy which focuses on true economic, social and environmental sustainability.
Daryl Guignion and Ian MacQuarrie are award-winning biologists with many
decades of experience in soil, water and ecology.
Published on Tuesday, February 4th
A recommendation to lift the current moratorium on deep-water wells is headed to government following unanimous support by the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture.
The resolution by the largest agricultural organization in the province was approved in a closed-door session Friday afternoon and will seek the removal of a 10-year-old moratorium on deep-water wells for agricultural irrigation.
However, the resolution is two-fold, and insists the moratorium removal is based on quality science and a significant water management program to monitor the resource.
“The members gave support to the lifting of the moratorium for supplemental irrigation purposes provided the Department of Environment has the science to back such a step,ʼʼ said P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture executive director John Jamieson. “Our members recognize water is a public resource and we are all concerned about groundwater.”
Controversy has spiked over the issue of providing permits to farmers who are seeking supplemental irrigation wells to make up for a lack of summer rainfall.
Jamieson said irrigation isnʼt exclusive to potato farms and is sought by those in other horticultural activities from blueberries to flowers.
“Letʼs keep in mind that these irrigation wells arenʼt going to be turned on from May until harvest,ʼʼ he said. “The irrigation is only needed for the few dry spots during the growing season.”
Last year, a lack of rainfall in the central areas of the province impacted everything from carrots to potatoes and farmers say opportunities to irrigate during those dry spells would have prevented crop loss.
The federation annual meeting held Friday heard from provincial watershed manager Bruce Raymond, who said there was ample water supply on P.E.I. and adequate recharge rates as well. However, despite strong water levels, Raymond said all regions of the province could experience different impacts depending on the amount of water extracted.
“The federation resolution also insists that a solid water-extraction policy is implemented and controls where wells are dug and how much is taken ...it would have to be resourced managed,ʼʼ said Jamieson.
The resolution, along with others, was approved during a closed-door session
of the meeting. In the past, federation resolutions have always been debated in
an open session during the annual meeting.
Published on February 3rd, 2014
Some drivers on the new, $16-million highway, which opened to traffic along the entire stretch in the fall, have been left wondering why it is so bumpy, considering it is was only recently paved.
Steve Yeo, the provinceʼs chief engineer, said when construction is done late in the season there are often what he called "frost differentials" or heaving.
“I fully expected that to happen,” he said.
Construction on the highway began in 2012 after protests shut it down temporarily and it officially opened in October 2013 from one end of the realignment to the other.
Some drivers have since been complaining about how uneven and bumpy the road has become.
Yeo said the areas that were paved last were the worst sections near New Haven and in the Bonshaw area.
Itʼs because the moisture didnʼt have time to dry and settle so itʼs consistent, Yeo said.
“Under the asphalt you get pockets of higher moisture content, which when it freezes raises more.”
Yeo said roads typically rise about three inches in the winter when they freeze, but when that happens itʼs usually consistent across the entire road.
Another layer of asphalt will be laid on the road this year and Yeo said when people drive on the highway next winter they wonʼt see the bumps that are there now.
“Youʼll see a consistent heave across the whole mat,” he said.
----------But here is the quote we need:
"Fumigation of soil, more high capacity wells, soil erosion, nitrates in ground and surface water, fish kills (better to call them river kills) and multiple, annual anoxic events in our waterways across PEI. We have tied it all together so many times and brought it to our politicians, planners, farmers, industries, road builders and more. We will continue to do so, but we need to keep improving the awareness of the connections. Our wildlife, natural areas and our own health depend on us not making this situation worse. Do what you can to prevent future damage."
Jackie Waddell, Island Nature Trust
Just a note about Plan B,
as in Bumpity. If you have had no other choice but to drive on Plan B in
the past six weeks or so, you may have noticed increasingly wavy or just plain
bumpy areas, especially at the Bonshaw and the New Haven ends of the
project. At first I thought I was being too critical of a little
frost-heaving, and apparently at Transportation they have said all will be fine
after the second coat of asphalt in the summer. Listening to fairly
unbiased people about road-building, it's not just a little
frost-heaving. We watched the rush in those same areas to get gravel and
asphalt down so Minister Vessey could brag that the road was done before the
end of October. Packs of gravel trucks dumping on the run, and a dozen
asphalt trucks lined up for quite a while behind what appeared to be a broken
No amount of asphalt is going to fix problems with the gravel bed over that broken up rocky sandstone -- it's not chocolate butter frosting I can use to even out a lopsided cake -- and it sounds like traffic and hot weather will likely exacerbate the waves. In the meantime, there is still winter and spring; perhaps a "Stop Plan B" bumper sticker can be rustled up for the first photo of a pothole on Plan B. ;-)
random notes, perhaps good for reading with a warm cup of something on a wet
The press did not note any Potato Board presentations at the Federation of Agriculture meeting.
Government is now doing the Full Sale mode (including a timely little "Environmental Update" tucked into this morning's Guardian).
It seems as though they are using the road-tested "Announce and Defend" template, sans Announcement.
Sherry has been muzzled as well, with the Premier stepping up to take the helm.
The Good News is that both Ghiz and Webster are not optimistic about getting Permits on-stream this season.
They both are talking about some form of public consultation.
This to me indicates that some Time has been bought."
Published on February 1, 2014
He’s not ruling it out but Agriculture Minister George Webster says the lifting of the deep water well moratorium and issuing new permits this year could be a stretch.
But that all might depend on the opinion of Islanders.
Webster confirmed at the annual meeting of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture Friday in Charlottetown that a process is forthcoming to engage the general public and gather opinion on the controversial issue.
A moratorium on deep water wells was established 10 years ago and some potato growers are pressing the government to lift the ban and allow some new permits to be acquired this year. There are already 35 deep water wells grandfathered into the regulations, and Webster said there have been no adverse effects recorded from those wells.
“We need much more consultation with the public so they are informed,’’ he told The Guardian in an interview. “We will likely be told here today that there is adequate water available, but we want the public to be able to air opinion and hear the science.”
Watershed management director Bruce Raymond of the Department of Environment was one of the highlights at the farm meeting when he identified that — while every region is different — P.E.I. is mostly blessed with plenty of water and at a regular recharge rate.
“It works out to the equivalent of 154 Olympic size swimming pools for every square kilometre,’’ he told a roomful of farmers at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. “That’s about 70 times more than we currently use across the province.”
Raymond wasn’t suggesting there was so much water that irrigation permits should be handed out carte blanche, but he confirmed that the entire province only uses seven per cent (for everything) of the 35 per cent of the current water supply readily available.
The $1 billion dollar potato industry is looking to irrigate about 30,000 additional acres and estimates it would only take an additional one per cent of water. Raymond said the “math” hadn’t been finalized, but estimated that was a low ball figure.
“We use about seven per cent of the available level (top of the aquifer) so there is still quite a bit of water,’’ he said.
Webster said Stratford is currently using almost 90 per cent of its current water supply and irrigation permits would not be entertained from that region, but he confirmed there were certain parts of the province where the water was more than plentiful.
The minister said he expects full consultations with the public coming soon and before any decision is made by government.
“This year might be a stretch but I’m not ruling it out or saying it’s going to happen. Some could be doable, but not from coast to coast to coast.”
Opposition Leader Steven Myers attended the presentations on deep water wells and climate change and insisted public consultation was necessary.
“I won’t oppose a decision based on good science,’’ he said. “But there’s no need to rush on making a good decision. I’m asking the government to put everything on the table so we can all decide.”
Finally, regarding Canada Post's drastic plans to cut door-to-door mail
delivery and raise postal rates, a commentary this week in The Guardian,
by Herb Dickieson, former NDP MLA in the PEI Legislature. Please keep
writing your opinions, Dr. Dickieson.
Published on January 29, 2014
It is of grave concern to Islanders that Stephen Harperʼs government decided to cut Canada Post and eliminate door-to-door delivery without meaningful discussion or consultation with Canadians.
Canada Post Corporation — an institution that predates Confederation — was created to provide a high standard of postal service that meets the needs of the people of Canada. It has done so for over 150 years, and has been profitable for most of that time, including the recent 2012 figures, and 16 of the last 17 years.
Rather than strengthening our national postal service to help keep it competitive, the Harper government has irresponsibly raised the price
of postage stamps by 59 per cent overnight and is busy slashing postal services and jobs to a level unseen anywhere else in the developed world. Once Mr. Harperʼs radical changes are complete, Canada will be the only major industrial country in the world without any door-to-door mail delivery.
The Harper government quickly attempted to downplay the massive price increases and service cuts by claiming the changes will only affect “a few wealthy downtowners.” On the contrary, it has been reported that close to four million apartment and condo dwellers whose mail is delivered to their building mailboxes will no longer receive that service, and close to three-quarter million rural residents with individual rural route mailboxes will eventually be moved to community mailboxes, along with an additional two million Canadians who live in smaller towns and use general delivery or post office boxes.
While some of these Canadians may be “wealthy downtowners”, the majority are average Canadians including seniors and the disabled who will be forced into using outdoor community mailboxes regardless of their ability to do so.
Stephen Harperʼs decision making can only be explained by his governmentʼs recent but hushed announcement that it was ordering Canada Post to delay addressing its unfunded pension liabilities until 2018 — well after the next election. By kicking the pension can down the road for another government to deal with Mr. Harper neatly passes the buck and avoids having to pay for Canada Postʼs $1-billion pension shortfall next year, something that would have sunk his plan to go to the polls in 2015 with a balanced budget. Mr. Harper seems to think it is acceptable to radically cut Canadaʼs postal system solely to improve his election prospects, putting his party ahead of the interests of Canadians.
Being fiscally responsible is important, but forcing Canadaʼs seniors and disabled to outdoor community mailboxes subject to theft, vandalism and poor weather, and denying them their door-to-door delivery of important items including medications for the sole benefit of Stephen Harperʼs electoral prospects is not only wrong, itʼs shameful.
Canadians have agreed on the services they want . . . and that includes Canada Post and door-to-door delivery. No other developed country in the world is going down this path, and neither should we.
Dr. Herb Dickieson is a family physician practising in Prince County and is a former member of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island.
concerns about lifting a ban on high capacity wells keeps pouring into our
public forums. The papers are full of excellent letters practically each
day. It would seem incredibly un-smart if a government didn't pay
attention to the tenor of public opinion as exemplified in our dear Guardian,
Journal-Pioneer, and Graphics. Unfortunately, as with Plan
B, government appears either not paying attention to this legitimate mode of
public communication**, or purposing downplaying people's opinions.
The Eastern (and West
The Journal-PioneerOn last night's CBC Compass, reporter John Jeffery went to the Federation of Agriculture annual general meeting and summarized it pretty well, with his story about 6:20 into the broadcast.
The membership heard from Bruce Raymond of the Department of the Environment who was on CBC Radio early Thursday, saying The Science says there is plenty of water if we stay within the policy.
The Department of the Environment (to their credit) Friday placed what is likely Mr. Raymond's powerpoint presentation on this page. The second choice has the "slides" with additional background information, and the third is the actual policy. (Just a note that a policy is not the same as legislated "Water Act", a related issue.)
If you have time to poke around in it this weekend.
The Federation did not make any sort of public statement on the issue of high capacity wells.
Agriculture Minister George Webster did say, "Don't look at your own farm gate. Look at the Big Picture." A statement most would agree with.
From Rob MacLean, blueberry farmer, among other things, of Lewes:
Published on January 29, 2014
Science is very clear that minimizing erosion by maintaining soil organic matter of at least three percent is what we should do and that a crop rotation of at least three years is the way to do it. We canʼt plead ignorance. For decades, weʼve had commissions, round tables, teaching sessions and grants encouraging this goal.
In 2002, we even passed a law mandating crop rotations. The governmentʼs own website says one purpose of the Crop Rotation Act is “to maintain and improve ground and surface water quality . . .” So, how are we doing?
According to the Report of the Commission on the Lands Protection Act
(p.28), from about 2001 to 2008 organic matter dropped Island-wide. At the
start of the period, roughly two-thirds of the samples met the minimum level of
three per cent. By 2008, only half were making the grade. Thatʼs not all. The
same report (page 28 again) says fully one in four potato farms are not in
compliance with the Crop Rotation Act. In other words, theyʼre breaking the
Learning the science of the water under our feet is just the beginning of the deep-well conversation. Our history with soil conservation proves that we have a lot to learn about putting environmental knowledge into practice. Until we do, thereʼs no reason to believe the potato industry can be trusted with our water.