Water Act Public Consultation Comments

As part of the development of a Water Act for PEI, Islanders are invited to provide comments regarding the development of the draft Act. All on-line comments that are received before the closing date will be posted on this page. The names of people making these on-line submissions will not be disclosed. The online consultation for the development of the Water Act runs until April 18, 2017.  To submit comments, start at the main Water Act web page.

Audio recordings of the public consultations sessions, as well as any presentations from the sessions that were provided to the Department, will also be posted on this page. 

If you believe an error has been made with one of the postings, please contact avsturz@gov.pe.ca


April 19, 2017
Submission #2

On behalf of Fertilizer Canada and our members, thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback to the development of the draft Water Act for Prince Edward Island (PEI). Our members are working to advance the development and implementation of new technologies and scientifically-based management practices for agricultural cropping systems to better meet social, environmental and economic goals. Please find attached our submission to the consultation process.

ATTACHED LETTER:

April 18, 2017

Tony Sturz
Director, Policy Development
Department of Communities, Land and Environment
Government of Prince Edward Island
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PEI
C1A 7N8

Re: Fertilizer Canada submission in response to the draft Water Act for Prince Edward Island

Dear Mr. Sturz;

On behalf of Fertilizer Canada and our members, thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback to the development of the draft Water Act for Prince Edward Island (PEI). Our members are working to advance the development and implementation of new technologies and scientifically-based management practices for agricultural cropping systems to better meet social, environmental and economic goals.

Whether from organic or commercial sources, fertilizer nutrients are a key component of sustainable crop production systems. Fertilizer is a key ingredient in feeding a growing global population, which is expected to surpass 9.7 billion people by 2050. Half of all food produced around the world today is made possible through the use of fertilizer. As demand continues to grow, farmers around the world will continue to rely on fertilizer to increase production efficiency to produce more food while optimizing inputs. Fertilizers play an essential role in replenishing nutrients in the soil that are used by plants each growing season, raising soil productivity, and improving soil health; but incorrect nutrient use may lead to negative impacts on a grower’s return on investment and risks increased impacts on the environment.

4R Nutrient Stewardship provides a framework of sustainability that protects the environment and natural resources

Fertilizer Canada is supportive of science-based solutions to minimize nitrates from agricultural sources in groundwater. The Inside the Water Act document has a stated goal for “water allocation subject to science-based decisions.” 4R Nutrient Stewardship is a leading science-based approach to sustainable agriculture. 4R Nutrient Stewardship is an internationally recognized best management practice (BMP) system, implementing practices to collectively optimize the source, rate, time and place of fertilizer application based on scientific principles and local knowledge. The 4R system embraces adaptive management and a continual improvement cycle. The four key pillars of fertilizer application are the Right Source @ Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place®:

• The Right Source means ensuring a balanced supply of essential nutrients, considering both naturally available sources and the characteristics of specific products, in plant available forms.

• The Right Rate is applying just enough fertilizer to meet the needs of the plant while accounting for nutrients already in the soil. Farmers and homeowners can use soil tests to identify nutrient shortfalls.

• The Right Time means applying fertilizer when the plant will get the most benefit and avoiding times when fertilizer can be lost to the environment.

• The Right Place is applying fertilizer where the plants can easily access the fertilizer and where it is less likely to be lost to the water or air. An example on the farm would be sub-surface banding in the soil near the seed row rather than surface application. Farmers may also need to establish buffer strips near streams, rivers, lakes or wells to prevent unwanted nutrient movement into surface or groundwater.

Shared value partnerships in PEI are growing and leading to successful implementation of 4R practices on the farm.

To help potato farmers achieve greater economic and environmental sustainability, Fertilizer Canada has invested $300,000 since 2012 under a 4R Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with provincial partners to implement 4R Nutrient Stewardship in PEI.

Partners under this MOU include the PEI Department of Agriculture and Forestry; the PEI Department of Communities, Land and Environment; the PEI Federation of Agriculture; the PEI Potato Board; Kensington North Watersheds Association; and local agri-retailers who are promoting agricultural sustainability through on-the-ground research, training and extension outreach.

4R Demonstration farms: A series of 4R demonstration farms have been established in PEI — a total of 10 in 2016 — where growers’ standard practices are compared directly to 4R BMPs by evaluating crop grade, tuber yield and economic return.

Results indicated that the 4R treated fields produced crops with equivalent or better economic value and quality to positively impact the end net crop value. Though there were variations from farm to farm, three years of results from the demonstration farms in PEI have shown that implementing 4R BMPs can lead to:

- Increased economic value – The average crop value of the harvest from the 4R demonstration farms increased by $80 to $200 per acre compared to the standard practice plots due to better tuber yield and quality.

- Lower nitrate and phosphorus residual levels – Most 4R demonstration sites were observed to have less post-harvest nitrate and phosphate accumulation in the soil. This implies more efficient nutrient uptake and lower environmental impact.

By showcasing the economic potential of the 4R BMPs, more growers across PEI are voluntarily adopting 4R Nutrient Stewardship on their farms.

Grower Survey: In 2016, the MOU participants conducted a grower survey in order to identify a benchmark for measuring nutrient stewardship efforts in PEI, encourage appropriate management decisions, and promote continuous improvement.

A random sample of 30 growers from all 4 districts, representing roughly 20 per cent of PEI’s potato growers showed that, on average, growers are meeting 92 per cent of criteria for a basic level of 4R Nutrient Stewardship, 55 per cent of intermediate criteria are being met, and 17 per cent of advanced criteria are being met. Additionally:

- 21 out of 30 growers surveyed are meeting 100 per cent of basic criteria
- 22 out of 30 growers surveyed are meeting 50 per cent of intermediate criteria
- 11 out of 30 growers surveyed are meeting 25 per cent of advanced criteria

4R Designation for Agri-Retailers: Agri-Retailers and their accredited professional staff play an integral role in supporting growers to achieve productivity goals for safe and nutritious food. Agri-Retailers provide crop inputs, and in the majority of companies, provide agronomic services to growers on the use, handling and storage of crop inputs.

The 4R Designation program demonstrates that growers are moving to the forefront of BMPs in commercial fertilizer and other nutrient use. With this national voluntary program, industry stakeholders can assist growers to demonstrate the tangible commitment being made by the Canadian agricultural industry to the economy, environment and their communities, which can be measured by getting crop acres counted.

To participate, at least one Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) employed by an agri-retailer becomes 4R Nutrient Stewardship accredited by taking the approved training courses offered by Fertilizer Canada eLearning.

Once these courses have been completed and attestations have been signed on the part of the company and the CCA, the accredited CCA is able to report 4R Designated acres on behalf of their company highlighting the commitment that was undertaken to support sustainable agriculture. To date, 13 companies across Canada are participating in the initiative and are ready to report acres under 4R management.

Canadian 4R Research Network: Dr. David Burton (Dalhousie University) has commenced a study in Atlantic Canada quantifying the magnitude and variability of soil N supply in 26 farms in PEI as a function of climate, soil type or agricultural management, allowing an assessment of the opportunity for site-specific N recommendations to reduce the risk of nitrate leaching to groundwater and nitrous oxide emissions. This information has demonstrated the potential for the use of site-specific N supply level measurements as a means of determining the Right Rate of fertilizer N application rates to improve production and reduce the potential for environmental impact.

Recommendations for the PEI Water Act

1. 4R Nutrient Stewardship be formally recognized in the PEI Water Act as a recommended best management practice system to reduce agricultural runoff including nitrate into groundwater;

2. Adopt and support science-based decision making to better understand impact of nitrates in water. Water access, allocation decisions and designation of water management areas should be made using scientific data and with input from technical experts and farmers in the field; and

3. Continue to work with industry stakeholders and consider the regulatory authority already in place to achieve the objectives of protecting PEI’s water resources – the Farm Practices Act;

4. Promote 4R Nutrient Stewardship in the province.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important matter. Sustainability is a pillar of our industry as we work to feed a growing world population. Fertilizer Canada believes that nutrient management programs based on sound science, expert advice and public education are the best approach towards reducing the negative environmental impacts of unwanted nutrient loading in PEI’s water. We are committed to continuing to work with the PEI government to promote nutrient management and agricultural sustainability.

Sincerely,

Director, Sustainability
Fertilizer Canada

cc: Hon. Robert Mitchell, M.L.A., Minister of Communities, Land and Environment, Government of Prince Edward Island

Submission #3

The Water Act must address fracking - ie banning it altogether, and 2 it must address high volume wells for agriculture and other uses. The 2 most important points about our water, and they are completely ' forgotten'. How can they not be part of a Water Act ?

You can do much better that this draft, and use much clearer and stronger language.

Submission #4

Without clean water we are doomed. Stronger policy is required to prevent contamination of PEI's water.

This means VERY strong control about what enters our waterways. This means NO sewage entering any waterway, strict control on pesticide runoff (this could go as far as supporting the transition to organic agriculture), strict control on toxic chemical effluent from any source, strong policy to reduce nitrate contamination. We cannot risk the ground water contamination from fracking. We cannot risk the effects of overuse of our water by deep wells or by bottling corporations. We as humans waste a LOT of water. Public education is needed to create a greater sensitivity to the consequences of overuse, such as in Charlottetown relative to the Winter River supply. Access to clean water is clearly a human right, but beyond a certain amount for basic needs, there should be a charge on excess water consumption.

Submission #5

P.E.I. Department of Environment
Water Act Draft Submission Website
Jones Building
Charlottetown, P.E.I.
Water Act Submission
Blue Dot PEI
c/o Voluntary Resource Centre
81 Prince Street
Charlottetown, PEI C1A 4P3

April 18th, 2017

Dear Minister Mitchell, Deputy Minister Dorsey, Mr. Young, Mr. Somers and Mr. Sturtz,

This submission is on behalf of Blue Dot PEI, a partner of Blue Dot, a David Suzuki Foundation movement to recognize every Canadian's right to live in a healthy environment.

We echo the concerns raised by many groups, organizations and individuals that this process should not be rushed at this point. It is crucial to the integrity of these consultations that sufficient time is allowed to get this right.

We strongly urge government to recognize the right to water for all Islanders in this Act.

We ask that you revisit the submissions (both public & written) made by Blue Dot PEI during the consultations.

We ask that you review this document in your considerations THE RIGHT TO WATER:A BRIEFING NOTE by Dr. David R. Boyd Adjunct Professor, Resource and Environmental Management,Simon Fraser University

"Many experts agree that legal recognition of the human right to water is a significant step towards increased access to safe drinking water."

"The benefits of recognizing that water is a legally protected human right include:
- stronger water laws, regulations, and policies;
- prioritizing resources for investment in water infrastructure, governance, and management;
- empowering citizens and communities to take part in decisionmaking processes related to water;
- providing a potential remedy for those whose right is being or may be violated;
- protecting water from pollution and other adverse impacts; - preventing discrimination or neglect of under-privileged or marginalized communities; and
- providing a means of holding governments and corporations accountable."

"The right to water is not a silver bullet that will automatically address the world’s water crisis.However it is a powerful tool that can be used to focus attention and resources on improving access to water for those individuals and communities who currently endure the hardships imposed by the absence of safe water."

Quebec spent 2 year of extensive deliberation and consultation in developing it's Water policy, a lot can be gleaned and adopted from this to strengthen PEI's Water Act.. Recognition of Water as a Collective Heritage of All Quebecers "The Québec government first wishes to reaffirm, through this Policy, its determination to recognize this resource as a valuable asset of Québec society and an integral part of its collective heritage. Water, both surface and groundwater, is recognized in the Civil Code of Québec as something whose use is common to all, subject to rights of use or limited appropriation rights, that may be recognized. This “common to all” status implies that all members of society have the right to access water and use it in a manner consistent with its nature, and that the government has a responsibility to regulate water use, establish priority uses and preserve its quality and quantity, while taking the public interest into account. Therefore, the government intends to create the necessary instruments so that they may give precedence, in the event of conflict, to the fundamental right of individuals to access this resource for their basic needs."

C-6.2 - Act to affirm the collective nature of water resources and provide for increased water resource protection
THE PARLIAMENT OF QUÉBEC ENACTS AS FOLLOWS:

DIVISION I
WATER, A COLLECTIVE RESOURCE
1. BEING OF VITAL INTEREST, BOTH SURFACE WATER AND GROUNDWATER, IN THEIR NATURAL STATE, ARE RESOURCES THAT ARE PART OF THE COMMON HERITAGE OF THE QUÉBEC NATION.

As set out in article 913 of the Civil Code, their use is common to all and they may not be appropriated except under the conditions defined by that article. 2009, c. 21, s. 1.

2. Under the conditions and within the limits defined by the law, it is the right of every natural person to have access to water that is safe for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene. 2009, c. 21, s. 2.

3. The protection, restoration, improvement and management of water resources are of general interest and further sustainable development.

PEI's Water Act would be well served to include Principles of transparency and participation also found in this legislation.

7. Under the conditions and within the limits defined by law, every person has a right of access to any information on water resources that is held by public authorities and a right to participate in public decision-making that affects those resources. An analysis done by ECELAW, on Environmental Rights in the Maritimes, showed PEI legislation to be lacking or non existent. Access to Information, Public Participation in Environmental/Water Governance and Decision-Making, and Access to Justice are considered pillars of environmental protection. Although, we recognize that there is some language in the draft pertaining to this we feel it could be strengthened and Access to Justice . -the right to review procedures to challenge public decisions that have been made without respecting the rights to Access to Information and Public Participation in Decision Making or environmental law
in general, included in this Act.

An example of how we could improve and strengthen the language is also found in C-6.2 - Act to affirm the collective nature of water resources and provide for increased water resource protection

"The municipalities and Native communities and every department, body, educational or research institution or group whose mission, functions or activities relate in whole or in part to the water sector may, by invitation or at their request, be associated with the development of the information system."

A common theme of many of the submissions received is the real concern over fracking, a vast majority of Islanders agree fracking would be incredibly reckless with one water table. We also ask you to consider the science which supports the view of many that fracking could mean suicide for PEI and ban it through this legislation. I apologize for the 2 hour tardiness of this submission but ask that this be excused for many reasons.

Thank you in advance for your careful consideration of this submission and the many meaningful submissions made by those who want to ensure adequate protection for Island waters.
Sincerely,

Blue Dot PEI volunteer

Submission #6

I just had my first child and will be relocating to somewhere in rural PEI in the next years. I currently own a house downtown. Our primary purchasing criteria is water quality, and given what information I can find on nitrate levels, large areas of PEI are no longer an option.

I have a few suggestions:
1. The precautionary principle should be included, especially to guide the grounds for refusing risky activities. We should strive to meet rigorous water quality targets (perhaps according to the biodiversity of the watershed?), and anyone that wants to create barriers to meeting those
targets should bare the burden of proving their actions will be safe. No applicant should be able to argue that the government has a burden to prove the applicant's desired activity will cause harm.

2. My personal belief if that the Mi'kmaq that acted as stewards of the life on Prince Edward Island until the arrival of my ancestors should receive special recognition in the Water Act. If you read descriptions of PEI when Europeans first arrived it is clear that the last 500 years have
been what could be accurately called severe destruction. That's not a scientific term, but I do wonder where all the walrus went. If you can include a historical perspective that acknowledges what the representatives of crown found, compared the current situation, that would be helpful.
3. I reject the language of "resource" and reject that human-centric focus of the legislation. The water in this province is, literally, the life of the province. My actual body is made of, largely, the rain that fell on this province. I actually am being scientific now. Water isn't so much a resource,
as it is life. Also, the water in this province isn't for just the human life, it is for all life; the otherthan- human life of the province should be honoured in our legislation too.

Kind regards, and best wishes with your drafting.

Submission #7

With out proper (25-50m min) buffer zones installed around our water ways, gov. is signalling they are ignoring our health, our drinking water, and our fishery. I'm sick to my stomach thinking about it. Do you think people will give their land willingly??? Not likely. This is where gov must step in to make the tuff choices. Too bad all you're worried about is reelection. [Expletive deleted] you if you don't do something about this.

Our precious aquifers will one day dry up if this same careless approach is taken to deep water wells. Death and poison for islanders because gov wants to appease business. Please, have some decency. If people want to drink the best water in world (for now) let them come and drink, no need to export our most precious resource. (Bottled water)

so many places in the world have already made the irreversible mistake of categorizing fresh water as a resource and not a right... for the mighty dollar... WAKE UP! WAKE UP! Make your choice.. a healthy future, or an empty bank account and imported water. (Money doesn't last)
Additional anadote.

People in Canada have heard of our pesticide polluted waters and are deciding not to visit. If I have heard one story personally, how many more are circulating. If industry trumps human rights we all lose.

If you are reading this, stand up for islanders, stand up for what's right. Our future depends on you.

Submission #8

Minister Mitchell,

Dear Robert,
Remember the shock and horror you expressed the evening we viewed the film at my home on Fracking with our neighbours. At that time you expressed the need to prevent fracking here on PEI. What has changed? Fracking will ruin our ground water and it needs to be in the act and
not in the regulations where it can be tinkered with and with pressure look away and change it bit by bit.

Please recall that our water is truly at risk if fracking is not in the act. Without that we have little to believe that this is truly an act to protect our water.


April 18, 2017

Submission #1
Water Act Public Consultation Submission (provided in pdf)

Submission #2
Water Act Public Consultation Submission (provided in pdf)

Submission #3
Water Act Public Consultation Submission (provided in pdf)

Submission #4
Water Act Public Consultation Submission (provided in pdf)

Submission #5
The following is a written summary of some of our points from that last public consultation (the last question of the evening in Pooles Corner on Wednesday, April 12th, 2017. Regarding the process up to this point:

We appreciate how the public has had time and the chance to consider the materials and present comments and questions. Up to now. We know the timing was not as was wished, due to other public initiatives such as the school review consultations, and that affected the release
of this draft without affecting the legislative session intended to table the legislation. This is rushed, especially as the draft is intense and needs much more energy to digest and analyze.

So our question is:
Given this very brief window available and the intent to get the Water Act through third reading in the Legislature, could you describe the steps that will be taken, and the timeframe, for all the pertinent suggestions you have received from groups and individuals, to presumably go to the department’s legislative counsel, to incorporate the changes into the draft, and to get this to the legislative floor. Please keep in mind all our suggestions, from most of the environmentally minded groups, are made to make the Act stronger and better.

Also, if amendments are made on the legislative floor, how will they be incorporated before third reading?

There is still the opportunity to hold back this bill until the Fall sitting. (You did explain – not to my satisfaction, but to my understanding, your reasoning for the timing – at the meeting in Pooles Corner.)

Our second comment was a list of “wrap-up recommendations” that we have heard time and
again, and truly hope you will incorporate into the Act.
1) Confirm that the ecosystem needing water, too
2) Add wording that confirms you are protecting the quantity and want to improve the quality (e.g., nitrates to be reduced)
3) Mention climate change/droughts/floods and working with other departments together on these.
4) A Water Governance Board – there are such amazing people in the province who could help and should be helping with water
5) Make the data available, but make it findable. If my mom and your mom can’t find it, the information is buried and not presented logically and with the ability to be reasonably found.
6) The biggie, and especially in light of the just-released study in Nature Geosciences (cited below), that methane from fracking can into water and  pollutes far more than we ever anticipated, is to **Ban Fracking in this Water Act.**

Thank you for your time and engagement with the Island community.
Sincerely,
Chairperson, Citizens’ Alliance of P.E.I.

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v10/n4/full/ngeo2919.html
Mobility and persistence of methane in groundwater in a controlled-release field experiment
Aaron G. Cahill, et.al/
Nature Geoscience,10, 289–294 (2017)
Published online 27 March 2017

Abstract:
Expansion of shale gas extraction has fuelled global concern about the potential impact of fugitive methane on groundwater and climate. Although methane leakage from wells is well documented, the consequences on groundwater remain sparsely studied and are thought by some to be minor. Here we present the results of a 72-day methane gas injection experiment into a shallow, flat-lying sand aquifer. In our experiment, although a significant fraction of methane vented to the atmosphere, an equal portion remained in the groundwater. We find that methane migration in the aquifer was governed by subtle grain-scale bedding that impeded buoyant free-phase gas flow and led to episodic releases of free-phase gas. The result was lateral migration of gas beyond that expected by groundwater advection alone. Methane persisted in the groundwater zone despite active growth of methanotrophic bacteria, although much of the methane that vented into the vadose zone was oxidized. Our findings demonstrate that even small-volume releases of methane gas can cause extensive and persistent free phase and solute plumes emanating from leaks that are detectable only by contaminant hydrogeology monitoring at high resolution.

For rest of article, please see on-line through link.

Submission #6
I think the use of water for fracking purposes should be banned in the Water Act. There is no difference between that and putting a ban on bottled water for export. I am also concerned about the holding ponds. At an earlier meeting with several farm groups, Jim Young stated in response to a question on holding ponds that there would be one well per pond allowed. At the Charlottetown meeting we were told that one well per property (PID) would be allowed, Quite a difference and why the change? I hope the regulations will stipulate that one well per holding pond is all that is allowed; otherwise we could have many low capacity wells feeding into the pond as most farms have several identification numbers. Several low capacity wells could very well extract more water than one high capacity well. If only one well per pond is allowed, it would be easily monitored and this would close a huge loophole in the Act and regulations.


April 17, 2017
Submission #1
Good Job so far, we do however need to take it a bit further. We still need to work on Fracking, Deep Water Wells, Nitrates and Pesticides contaminates. The water belongs to the people, please don't let the water be taken from under us as we have seen in other communities. Give the power back to us. You have heard great presenters these last few weeks that say it much better than myself and are well versed in this that offer great suggestions. Thanks for your hard work.

Submission #2
During the Easter Season, some of us have listened to the creation story as recounted in Genesis (1.1). In it, we read that God’s Spirit swept over “the face of the waters” and that God said “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” Although this story may be challenged from a scientific point of view, by faith, we believe that all of creation began with water. It is therefore most appropriate that the Government of PEI acknowledge the importance of water in our lives, and take steps to ensure its “quality, quantity, allocation, conservation and protection”, all in the interest of the “common good that benefits and accommodates all living things” (Section 2 (a)). It is also most appropriate that the people of PEI be consulted and invited to share their thoughts on this important aspect of Island life. In this spirit, I offer the following comments for the consideration of the Premier of PEI and his Minister in finalizing the PEI Water Act.

1. To begin, I offer my sincere congratulations to the Government of PEI and to the Minister of Communities, Land and Environment in particular, for pursuing this important piece of legislation, and the regulations and policies that will flow from it. 

2. To affirm the authenticity that water is for the “common good”, reference should be made to the United Nations Resolution 64/292, adopted on 28 July 2010, which recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water (and sanitation) as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights. What is being proposed in the PEI Water Act follows directly from the UN resolution declaring the right to water as a human right for all. I would recommend that some reference to this global perspective be included in the PEI Water Act.

3. Section 2, which defines the purpose and goals of the Water Act, is well done; however, as indicated above, additional global context should be added.

4. Section 16 (1) is clearly intended to provide teeth to the legislation by requiring the Minister to establish a program to monitor the province’s water resources (The Minister “shall”). However, Section 16 (2) is weaker in that it gives the Minister the discretion to establish, or not establish, a program to monitor the province’s water resources for the purpose of assessing the presences of contaminants, evaluating the state of aquatic ecosystems and gaining a deeper understanding of the components of groundwater and aquatic ecosystems (The Minister “may”). This should NOT be optional for the Minister. The wording in Section 16 (2) should be changed to “The Minister shall” (as in Section 16 (1)).

5. In ensuring long-term sustainability of water resources, certain projects should be considered “red flags” in drafting the Water Act. In my view, high capacity wells and hydraulic fracking are two such red flags. It is recognized that there is currently a moratorium on high capacity wells; this moratorium should be maintained and monitored in accordance with Section 16 of the Act. It is also my view that there is no place for hydraulic fracking on PEI. A prohibition on fracking should be specifically included in the Act.

6. While the Government of PEI is to be commended for its consultation in the drafting of the Water Act, it is important that consultative processes of this kind be continued and become the normal part of “doing business” when dealing with important Island resources. In this regard, the Government should go beyond the concept of managing water resources to putting in place a strong governance structure that engages the general population. While government-appointed Advisory Board are useful and helpful, they are not sufficient to ensure impartial input into legislative and regulatory instruments that affect the future of our children and grandchildren. Through this Water Act, the Government has the opportunity to enshrine innovative and creative processes to engage the people of PEI in shaping its future. 

Submission #3
The mouse scampered back and forth on the old dead tree fallen across the little tributary at the back end of our land. The wee creature didn't notice the giant human creature watching it explore its little world. Just as it did not notice me it and all the other inhabitants in the world Mother Nature embraces have no way of noticing anything we humans do that impacts on them. We have the responsibility of ensuring their and ultimately our own world is kept safe for the eons of time ahead.
We can do this in our little corner of Earth:
[1] Make a CLEAR statement regarding the moratorium on deep wells, that there will be an on going moratorium, that no permits will be issued for any criteria, and that an independent scientific study is completed.
[2] Clarify the ban on exporting our water. Make it trade deal resistant. The selling of our water will not only help deplete our source but will make it a commodity bu which trade deals allow international businesses to sue governments for loss of profits.
[3] Remove "ministerial powers" from allowing special permits and any other decision making process regarding our water. This kind of "one person" power is fraught with potential for abuse.
[4] Remove the potential of loopholes in the wording that would allow municipalities to "exceed environmental flow rates". 
[5] The absence of including the practice of fracking in this draft is a problem. It is well known that fracking elsewhere has caused serious problems for aqua firs. There have been efforts in intentions to frack for energy sources on PEI in the past. Make sure there is a door slammed on this happening in our shale rock and hence delicate aqua fir system.
[6] Don't rely on regulations to protect water. These can be "watered down" [pardon the pun] too easily.
We want that little mouse and many others to scamper across old fallen logs in the sublime expectation it is always safe to do so. And that that little stream will be forever clear and pollutant free for all the eco system relying on it.

Submission #4
Years of observations of many agriculture fields have given me photographic proof of the disregard for water ways and soil. Some stewards of the land should be restricted from cultivating sensitive to erosion areas.The 15 meter buffer is not adequate especially at the heads of water sheds.We have to take these multiple areas out of production.Even if it means compensating stewards it must be done.This is just to important to be left to stewards to solve.Any area that flows water in spring thaw or rain events.Must be left in vegetation.I know many would oppose this idea but It must be done and I encourage you to make these tough decisions.To make positive change. The island is surrounded by geological oil and gas traps. Where by fracturing may be the cheapest way for extracting it.The sandstone under this island could be easily fracked threatening our ground water.I would suggest Hydraulic fracturing be banned as a precaution. The hand out at a recent water act consultation suggests we have more water than we could ever use under us. At least the numbers given suggest this. Thus high capacity wells seem to have been suggested to go ahead. We can not know the future,drought could threaten all water levels. Causing many residential wells to be drilled deeper to reach essential water that is ever living things right.The Irving needs for bigger potatoes will not compensate home owners these costs and we cannot risk our essential water. For if these wells flow they will not to stopped. 
The nitrates in all water including wells,rivers and the ocean must be stopped.It is a crime to poison us and all life.Industrial agriculture is destroying this Island .Time to promote organics and prosper ethically.

Submission #5
Having attended and spoken at the public consultation held by Hon. Robert Mitchell, Minister of the Environment and his team consisting of Jim Young and George Sommers on April 10, 2017, I felt it was important to follow-up with a written submission. I agree with the other presenters at the meeting stating that Section II of the proposed Water Act is well written and successful in stating he importance of protecting the quality and quantity of our Island water. 
I also commend the Minister for Section V stating that there will be a prohibition of the removal of bottled water from being shipped out of P.E.I.
However, the proposed Water Act falls short in the omission of including a section dealing with a ban on the drilling of high capacity wells for the purpose of agricultural irrigation. This omission was identified b the National Farmers' Union and the Copper Institute. The Cooper Institute stated the could be remedied by writing it into Section VII of the Water Act.
The proposed Water Act also omitted to sate there should be a prohibition of fracking in the Province of P.E.I. This fact was also identified by the National Farmers' Union. Hon. Mitchell responded in her remarks stating that fracking is not a "water issue", but the majority of the people at the well attended meeting felt a ban on tracing should be invoked and they did so with a show of hands. The Cooper Institute stated a ban on fracking should be included in Section VII of the proposed Water Act.
I also agree with the Cooper Institute and the National Farmers' Union that the Minister of the Environment needs a community based "Advisory Council" to ensure lobby groups don't convince the Cabinet of our government that the proposed Regulation of the Water Act should be changed and made more lenient. I strongly urge the Minister to heed this wise advice. There are many volunteers serving on the Watersheds of our province with a wealth of knowledge, hands on experience, and good common sense that would share their valuable wisdom in guiding the Minister in his mandate to protect our water.

Submission #6
I want to thank the Premier of P.E.I. And the Minister of the Department of Communities, Land and Environment for moving forward with this very important "Water Act"
All Islanders from tip to tip want their water to be protected and safe to drink for generations to come.
* Water is a basic human right. For this reason a stronger statement should be in the Act to enshrine the right and access to clean safe drinking water for all Islanders.
* Thank you for the ban on water exports included in this Act
* This Water Act was born from a request for the lifting on the moratorium on high capacity wells in 2015 and Islanders out cry to the possible lifting of the moratorium. Sustainable farming practices implemented, monitored and enforced ie: 3 year crop rotation, cover crops to protect the soil, buffer zones would go along way to help water retention and conservation.
I recommend monitoring and data gathering on the existing high capacity wells to ensure they are not creating issues.
I recommend the moratorium on high capacity wells remain in place
* Sections 16-18 dealing with monitoring and reporting is great. There are a number of places where it says "Minister may" establish programs - it should say "shall". The use of the word "shall" carries more weight than the word "may"! 
* A ban on hydraulic fractoring (fracking) be included in the Act. We do not need to wait for someone to come knocking on our door to recognize the dangers of such a practice. One only needs to look a what is happening in other areas to know it is not something we want for PEI. Please put it in our Act so, Islanders will know, that no matter what government is in power the approval of this practice will not be on the table.
* water governance - Islanders need to be more involved 
Funding and empowerment of our watershed groups. Our watershed groups and all residents are stakeholders and should be involved in consultations and policy development. 
* The inclusion of polluter pay is a good start to deter those who choose to abuse their right to soil and water

I look forward to more public input during the drafting of the regulations

Submission #7
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft of the Water Act. I appreciate that the draft recognizes that water must be protected, must be held in common, is a public trust and is not a commodity to be bought and sold. These values are critical in ensuring that our water is cared for appropriately so it is clean and available in adequate quantities for the present and for future generations. I am also grateful that the draft bans companies from bottling water for export and that polluters will be held financially accountable for damaging our water.

However, there are some glaring omissions from the draft that must be included if we are serious about protecting water. Surely it is patently obvious that fracking would be extremely damaging to our water supply. Oil and gas companies have deep pockets for lobbying governments. The Act must clearly prohibit fracking so no present or future government is tempted to cave in to corporations and allow such a dangerous practice.

Another omission is mention of high capacity wells. Although the moratorium is in place for another year, it is crucial that the Act prohibit the drilling of any more deep water wells in order to ensure that there will always be adequate amounts of water for human and animal requirements.

The level of nitrates in drinking water on the island, particularly in certain areas, is alarming. Nitrates are known to be harmful to humans and should not be present in drinking water at all. It is essential that the Act specify enforceable strategies for protecting our water from contaminants with financial penalties for those who pollute. 

All decisions about water protections should be transparent and involve the people of Prince Edward Island. No significant decisions should be left to a Minister or to Cabinet. Clean, potable water in sufficient quantities to satisfy the needs of all living things is a right. Caring for our water requires progressive legislation, absolute transparency, enforceable regulations and a strong commitment to preserving the quantity and quality of our water over corporations' wishes and economic benefits.

Submission #8
The Liberals under Premier Wade MacLauchlan say they want to protect our water, and believe the way to do it is with a new Water Act. The proposed Act has been applauded by many, and considered to be the legacy the Premier will leave behind. I would respectfully disagree.

We currently have many laws in place to protect the waterways, many of which can be found in the Environmental Protection Act (EPA). This Act was brought in by the late Liberal MLA, Gilbert Clements. He was a man with the vision to lay down the groundwork for a sustainable environment. The Honourable Gilbert Clements established the first Department of Environment in Canada, and with it he brought in a recycling program with regulations for reusable containers. The legacy he left behind was one of valuing and protecting the environment. When Robert Ghiz became Premier of the Liberal party, the reusable container regulations, which had become the envy of many other provinces and the U.S. was all but wiped out. Needless to say it has led to an influx of plastic containers, only adding to the critical level of plastics contaminating our oceans.

I would argue that strengthening the EPA would result in a more strategic and effective means of protecting our water resources. While working in wildlife management, I knew that one species cannot be managed in isolation of others. Every species is connected to the whole ecosystem, belonging to a complex web of relationships. As a result, what happens to one species, impacts many others. The same is also true of the environment. Likewise, water management must take into consideration the air, land, wildlife, and human activities. The environment has many complex interrelationships that our very existence depends upon. For example, air carries the replenishing water through the water cycle. When this occurs, manmade contaminants such as mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are also redistributed into the waterways making the water more acidic and the fish less edible. With the acidification of our oceans there will even be less fish, as they are unable to survive the toxic environment. The green house gases like carbon and methane in the air result in a warming ocean and along with it, all the negative impacts that go with climate change. Under the current EPA there are Air Quality Regulations which helps the province deal with some of these issues.

Human activity on the land has lead to nitrate pollution of our ground water. Meanwhile, runoff from the fields has led to siltation and contamination of our waterways. Silt is by far one of the worst contaminants we have running off the land. It smothers billions of fish eggs, fills in our waterways- raising water temperatures, taking cover away from aquatic animals, and carrying pesticides with it. Stopping siltation of the rivers will also stop most of the fish kills from pesticide. The EPA could be amended to better deal with this issue. Incorporating the Agricultural Crop Rotation Act under the Environmental Protection Act could help address this, by giving the Minister the power to issue orders for non compliance. This Act also has to take into account not only the steep of a slope but the length. A minor amendment in the EPA listing a specific level of suspended solid as a contaminant would also help resolve some of the issues concerning runoff giving the Environment Officers a leverage to address siltation.

Under the Environmental Protection Act, there are many regulations that are designed to prevent the release of contaminants using a permit system and laying out conditions under a permit. This is administered effectively under the requirement for watercourse or wetland alteration permits and through specific buffer zone regulations.

Understandable, many farmers get upset when a new law that hurts their bottom line is announced, as they contend with many regulations. The bulk of sedimentation issues originate on farmland and government roads. The road ditches need to be treated more like waterways as they lead many contaminants to our watercourses. A new Act does not in itself solve the problem and can create more problems if it has not been carefully planned out. A comprehensive strategy created by involving farmers and other stakeholders is more likely to succeed. Making activities illegal without an inclusive strategy in place is counter-productive and lacks vision.

Oil contamination of groundwater from oil tanks is another nightmare. The current government developed a strategy through consultation which included licensing tanks, inspections, training and education. This strategy has worked for the most part and these regulations can be found under the EPA.

The best tool that government has under the EPA is the power of the Minister to issue Orders, which is tells a person what to do, and if they do not follow the rules there are significant consequences. The Minister can issue an Order, if there is a violation of the EPA, or even if there is not a violation but a potential threat to the environment. Unfortunately, some would argue this power is not used enough. Failing to comply with an Order can potentially cost a company $50,000 a day, or an individual as much as $10, 000 a day and 90 days in jail. That should be a good deterrent, but it requires work and follow up which can be tie up resources and be politically motivated. Under the EPA, not only can a person be fined and jailed, the government can remediate the non-compliant and put a lean on the property for recovery of cost. However, trying to fix an expensive problem with no budget or political resolve is challenging.

Another of the better tools found in the EPA to protect Water is the environmental assessment process. This requires the proponent to identify environmental issues before they can happen and address them before a permit is issued for an undertaking. If the Minister approves, an Order is issued to the proponent requiring adherence to conditions found in an approval permit. Failure to comply can be costly to the person and very costly to the environment.

The following is a partial list of regulations under the Environmental Protection Act. Each and every one of them plays a role in protecting our water.

  • Litter Control Regulations
  • Air Quality Regulations
  • Sewage Disposal System Regulations
  • Drinking Water and Waste Water Facility Operating Regulations
  • Petroleum Hydrocarbon Remediation Regulations
  • Petroleum Storage Tank Regulations
  • Ozone Layer Protection Regulations
  • Water Well Regulations
  • Home Heat Tank Regulations
  • Materials Stewardship Regulations
  • Contaminated Sites Regulations
  • Waste Resource Management Regulations
  • Excavation Pits Regulations
  • Environment Records Review Regulations

Other Acts are in place to protect water. They include the aforementioned Agricultural Crop Rotation Act. This requires farmers to responsibly manage the land. Conserving the integrity of the soil will reduce sedimentation of our watercourses and in the long run profit the farmer. It sounds like an unnecessary law, and in the day of family farms it could have been avoided. However, the changeover to industrial farming and increasing demands for produce has changed what our laws need to include.

The many other Acts protecting our waterways include the Pesticide Control Act which controls the application of pesticides. The Planning act, which controls development and protects offshore Islands, while establishing the Morrell River Conservation Zone- one of the best watershed protected areas on the Island. The Natural Area Protection Act, Forest Management Act, and the Wildlife Conservation Act, are all in place to protect our waterways. Not to mention the multitude of Federal Acts and Regulations which also protect our water.

So, why are we still having problems? A new Act does not address the issues. It does even less as a standalone document. Water protection is environment protection. Air pollution and land pollution eventually lead to degraded water supplies, whether it be directly or indirectly. The existing EPA already a framework for this. For example, it protects ground water from oil pollution within the Home Heat Tank regulations, or watercourses from mercury contamination under the Air Quality regulations.

The EPA has been in effect since 1988, has undergone many amendments, and is being tested in court. Whether it wins or loses in court, the EPA becomes better each time. The cases that end up in court can take months of investigative and could takes years to work its way through court. A new Act will take years to be tested and amended before being an effective tool. What we really need is not more Acts, but more action. The government needs to increase resources to achieve successful prosecutions and maintain the level of enforcement needed for all the water related Acts without bringing in a new one. There are many regulations under the
existing EPA to work with. Yes, closing loopholes and strengthening the existing Environmental Protection Act will help to achieve these goals. There is a need for government to have emergency funding to deal with the costs of cleaning up contaminants and restoring ecosystems. However, a new Water Act is not the answer. It will create more problems in the long run. Start by identifying the problems public meetings have addressed, and come up with creative solutions. Look at cross compliance, incentives, buy-outs. Examine existing legislation, and policy that runs contrary to protecting our water resources. Talk to the Environment Officers and the Crown Prosecutors to gain a better understanding of the enforcement issues with the existing legislation.

I hope the Liberals will reconsider and look at the bigger picture by really committing to protecting our water resources by protecting the whole environment. There is so much we could be doing better to improve our environmental future. Instead of smoke and mirrors lets really do something good.

Submission #9

Good evening, Sorry folks but I have had precious little time to formulate many thoughts on the Draft Water Act. What I hear about sins of omission (i.e. prolonging moratorium on Deep Water Wells, failure to ban Fracking to name a couple) is disturbing. We need to get this right - water is a public resource, it should not be squandered like our soils have been squandered by several types of corporate farming. Just 'saying it' is not enough. There have to be strong carefully crafted measures and enforcement there to protect this resource for all. Basically I am scared that nothing of much good will come of this Act, but rather than be a complete pessimist I defer to some balanced words of wisdom shared publicly on the Citizen's Alliance of PEI website from Mr Gary Schneider who has decades of experience that he draws upon. You would be well advised to follow his lead on these considerations. Several of his points have been echoed or variously stated by other public commentaries. Thank you for the opportunity to submit these few thoughts.

Quote from Mr. Gary Schneider: "I have been involved with this process from the beginning, through the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island and the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water. The process to date has been great. In fact, I have been using it as an example of a solid public process when I attend national meetings on environmental assessment. Unfortunately, things seem to be falling apart at the end. The delays in releasing the report, combined with the almost simultaneous release of the Climate Change Strategy and Energy Policy have left people scrambling to keep up. And then there are only four public meetings and they are happening quickly. With all that, we suddenly find ourselves unaware of the process and timing. What is going to happen, and when? How will our comments and concerns be addressed?

There are some excellent parts of the draft Act. The “purposes” section is very strong, especially (a) Government has a guardianship role to play in ensuring that the quality, quantity, allocation, conservation and protection of water is managed in the interests of a common good that benefits and accommodates all living things in the province, and their supporting ecosystems. If we just followed that simple statement, we could solve all the water problems on PEI. In the same section, it is good to see that (b) access for everyone to a sufficient quantity and safe quality of reasonably affordable and accessible water for personal and domestic uses, and to basic sanitation that is safe and hygienic, is essential for an adequate standard of living. I would like to see this strengthen to ensure that these are basic human rights, something that many presenters spoke about at the public meetings. The plan for increased reporting on the state of our water is very welcome. With water being of such importance here, and facing so many threats, this is long overdue. The ban on the export of water also sends a strong message to Islanders. The use of the term "precautionary principle" in the "Key Statements" is great to see, though I would have liked to see that exact term inside the actual Act. The idea of minimum environmental flows in Island waterways will, if we look at all components of a healthy ecosystem, go a long way to preventing problems such as those that regularly occur in the Winter River. Making information on water accessible and creating a public registry will be of great benefit to Islanders, not the least of which is that people will use water more carefully if they know that other members of the public is aware of what is happening. This information, and the registry, should be available on-line, and so I would like to see “shall” instead of “may” in these sections. There is also great potential for learning and adapting within the draft Act, so that as new information and even technology comes along, we can continuously improve.

I know that many of the things I am looking for should be in the regulations. But without knowing what they will contain, here are some of my concerns.

After carefully reading the draft Act, I still don’t know how we are going to protect water in this province. I would have liked to have seen, even in a preamble or in the “Inside the Water Act” document, a statement on how we’re going to substantially reduce nitrates and pesticides in our waterways. Islanders need and deserve clear and enforceable targets on reducing nitrates, agricultural and cosmetic pesticides, and soil erosion, and to know how these will be achieved. This will include everything from removing loopholes and strengthening the crop rotation legislation to increasing the width of buffer zones as needed to protect waterways."

End of quote from Mr. Schneider. No one has the complete answer, but Mr. Schneider hits many key points. Check out his submission for more points. 

April 16, 2017
Listen and act on these 3 points -
Ensure no FRACKING takes place on PEI as it will ruin our water.
Block high capacity wells NOW. There are too many already.
PUNISH those who create pesticides/fertilizer run-off into our waterways.
Water is a Human Right not a corporate right. We need fully enforced government regulations to protect our water.

Photo of a dry stream bed through a planted field

April 15, 2017
Submission #1
We can all be guardians of the quality, conservation of and protection of PEI's water. After attending the Charlottetown meeting regarding the water act, I left with many concerns regarding potato farmers and industrial agriculture on PEI feeling entitled to abuse the land and our shared water. The past farm practices of these two organizations speaks for itself as to how serious some members are about being Stewarts of the land. I was very concerned with the suggestion of being compensated for land that must be taken out of production from bad farm practices. I also heard the mention of them not paying for water permits. Regularly we see waterways filled with silt running directly into ditches and watercourses then directly into the ocean damaging ecosystems. Most of this is due to farming and large developments. Right now in the courts the past PEI Potato Board president is appealling a charge of this such event. I can only assume this person's reasoning is a product of past government who allowed this industry to regard our shared land as a means of financial gain and not be reprimanded or have any confrontation of detrimental farm practices. While in Ontario last summer PEI was talked about, not for the beautiful beaches but of the extreme fish kills that routinely happen after large rain. This, in my opinion, is unacceptable. My husband and I routinely see this damage to waterways. We have not reported in the past but will make it our personal policy to be Stewarts of the land and bring these sightings to attention of fellow islanders and Government until we can get these stopped. I feel larger buffer zones, hedgerows and more monitoring whether public or Government Enforcement Officers can help. This is needed, not only, farming but also land development for private use as well. It is not only generations of families running farms on PEI, as I too am a fourth generation Island who wants my home of PEI to be respected for my children and grandchildren.

Submission #2
I am so thankful to live where I do on PEI, and for our water. It is Such a blessing, that not everyone presently shares.
My hope is, with mindful stewardship, the water will be given the respect it desires. I know that is not how we talk, or see things.. but it is truth.
It is not to be not be used as a commodity, in support of greed.

Submission #3
PEI water sources are fragile. There are huge demands on our ground water now, but with the increasing construction of new homes, climate change, and the individual increase in water consumption each year, these demands may not be met in the near future. We cannot afford to squander deep-water wells. Please put a permanent moratorium on them for construction purposes.

April 14, 2017

Submission #1
It is essential that we govern our water use. The Island is particularly sensitve to low water tables due to agriculture practices and our dependence on ground water. There should be laws in place for water protection that serves all life on PEI. Extreme uses such as bottle water marketing should not be allowed.

Submission #2
I believe that a ban on fracking belongs in the Water Act not in the regulations. Regulations are too easy to change and every Minister has their own set of priorities so it would be too easy for a new Minister to undo a ban that is only in the regulations.

Submission #3
Please protect our ground water by not allowing fracking and deep water wells.

Submission #4
I would like to see our Island watershed groups play a bigger role in all decisions pertaining to water conservation on our Island. Please no tracking and be very careful with deep water wells. Thank you.

Submission #5
I am grateful that the government is putting a great deal of time and effort and talent into creating a Water Act. I would like to take this opportunity to express more specifically my appreciation and concerns. 

Concerns:
Fracking: I believe that the difficulties incurred in other jurisdictions would be ample support for a provincial ban. I don't believe that the risk involved is even close to being justified. 

Contaminants: The draft legislation defines water contaminants, but doesn’t include a plan to eliminate them. This needs to be addressed plainly and clearly.

Appreciation:
Bottled water companies will not be allowed to export PEI groundwater. Good!

Deep water well proposals can be stopped by the minister. II appreciate this step however, I would definitely like it to be considerable stronger by not allowing deep water well approvals at all, not just at the minister’s discretion.

Access to water seems to be protected, though this could be strengthened by referencing the UN-recognized human right to water and sanitation.

Thank you to Minister Mitchell and all who are working hard to make this Act an excellent one.

Submission #6
Many households on PEI depend on their private wells to supply their water needs. These wells are vulnerable to any disturbance or contamination to the underground rivers that feed them. Fracking poses a danger to those rivers, which we cannot allow. Thousands of Islanders would be effected if their water source should dry up or become polluted. The United Nations has declared access to clean water and sanitation, a Human Right. We trust our government to protect us from exploitation of this resource by denying permits for deep wells and bottled water companies.

April 13, 2017
Submission #1
Please this is our children future we are talking about....my daughter lives in North labrador where they can't drink the water or brush their teeth.....That's the last thing I want to see on this little island is water that we can't drink or lack of water because of fracking!

Submission #2
My concern is for the residents that are on private wells. City residents are assured quality water with municipal testing and safeguards provided for them. The cost of water testing has risen considerably and as a result many people do not have their water tested on a regular basis or not at all.
I believe that each family should be allowed one free water test per year to ensure safety and fairness to all Islanders. There are many people who cannot afford these tests and are putting their children and selves at risk and ask for you consideration of this serious problem. Many thanks.

Submission #3
I've perused the draft Act and find it leaves gaping holes where legislation can be introduced to CONSERVE water. I live in rural PEI in the Winter River watershed. I in fact own a small property with a pond that has been there since the 1960's. This pond has continuously suffered from silt infilling and decreasing water levels. My family and many around us attempt to conserve water by using rain catchment and not watering our lawns. 

Why does the proposed Act not include some form of legislation that requires citizens to conserve water? Installation of water meters in Charlottetown is not a solution. People will still waste water and simply pay the extra. Can there not be some form of requirement for existing or new construction, (residential or commercial) to incorporate some form of conservation plan. Many large cities across the world utilize the roof areas of large building to catch water that can be then used as "grey" water for the daily operation of the building. 

Again, we as a Province always seem to be a step behind when we have the opportunity, (due to our size) to implement a new way of thinking and to become a leader in water conservation.

Submission #4
"ECELAW urges the government of PEI to take advantage of the expertise that exists within its citizenry and the non-profit organizations that support them. We recommend that the government host a round table session of participants with relevant knowledge and expertise to complete a clause by clause review of the draft Act as part of the public consultation process. The volunteer sector and the contribution they make to society is vastly underrated and undervalued, just like the environment."

The draft water act will be presented in the house and the majority liberal government will pass it. High capacity wells and fracking are not dealt with in the act - apparently to be addressed in the regulations. Islanders have been highly engaged in this process because they fear their government will not make the right decisons for ordinary islanders in the face of extreme pressure from corporate interests. This fear is well founded.

To reduce the fear and sceptism the recommendation that the government of PEI take advantage of the expertise that exists within its citizenry and the non-profit organizations and include those with relevant knowledge and expertise is a good one. While this is too late to do before the water act becomes legislation, it is not too late to include these people in the setting down of the regulations.

I ask the Honourable Minister to consider including those citizens and non-profit organizations who have demonstrated relevant knowledge through the public consultation process to have input into the regulations before they are finalized.
 

April 12, 2017 (Public Consultation Session - Pooles Corner)
Audio recording of the session - part a (15 Mb)
Audio recording of the session - part b (16 Mb)
Presentation - Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island (includes separate submission to Department by ECOPEI)
Presentation - Winter River - Tracadie Bay Watershed Association


April 12, 2017
Submission #1
PART I:
I strongly support the purpose and goals set out in the draft Water Act. I also think that the definitions are clear and seem comprehensive and I support the declaration in section 3.
PART II:
In general, I support the provisions in this Part. I suggest adding a section at the beginning of this Part which states that, in all decisions made and actions taken under this Act, the Minister and environment officers shall be guided by and comply with the purpose and goals of the Act (or words to that effect). I think that such a section would strengthen the Act.
I suggest that all clauses in section 16 be mandatory "shall" clauses. Assessing the presence and state of contaminants, evaluating the state of aquatic systems, and developing a deeper understanding of the components of groundwater and aquatic ecosystems are as important as detecting and assessing trends and monitoring the effectiveness of legislation, policies and other initiatives.
PART III:
I support the provisions of this Part, in particular the "polluter pays" provisions in section 21.
PART V:
I support the ban in section 40 on removing water, including bottled water, from the province, except for the specified purposes.
I suggest adding a ban on hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") which states that no person shall withdraw or use water for the purpose of hydraulic fracturing. It is important that this ban be provided for in the Act rather than just by regulation because, although the current Minister might support a ban on fracking, another minister at a later time might want to remove such a ban. Removing a ban from regulations can be done behind closed doors by Cabinet, but a ban in the Act could only be removed by the Legislative Assembly.
PART VI:
The document "Inside the Water Act" indicates that Part VI is taken primarily from the Environmental Protection Act. A quick review reveals there are some differences, but most of these are probably improvements. I find a few things about Part VI puzzling. Section 18.1 of the Environmental Protection Act is specific to the Island Waste Management Corporation, which is a Crown corporation, and section 18.2 says that the Civil Service Act does not apply to any person engaged or employed by the Island Waste Management Corporation or "Environmental Industrial Services Inc., or any other corporation owned by the Island Waste Management Corporation. " This implies that Environmental Industrial Services Inc. is owned by the Island Waste Management Corporation. What is Environmental Industrial Services Inc. and why is continuation of it set out in section 46(9) of the draft Water Act, but the Island Waste Management Corporation is not mentioned at all? A google search of Environmental Industrial Services Inc. reveals that it operates the sewage treatment plant in Charlottetown and "a number of water and wastewater systems across the province for various public and private entities". The employee directory of the Island Waste Management Corporation includes some employees of Environmental Industrial Services Inc. Does a Crown corporation (Island Waste Management Corporation) own a private company ( Environmental Industrial Services Inc.)? To what extent does the draft Water Act allow for the privatization of public utilities responsible for water supply and wastewater systems? Is it possible to make the Water Act more transparent, and if necessary more restrictive, in this regard

Submission #2

A) Wording

There is wording in the draft which might be improved.  For instance, there are two kinds of sustainability – long-term sustainability and sustainability. [34. (1), 2.(c)]

As well there are two kinds of affordable water – reasonably affordable and affordable. [ 2.(b), 2.(f)]

On page 1 of the draft it mentions ‘all organic and inorganic matter’ which pretty much covers it but it might be better to add synthetic matter or just leave it as ‘matter’. [1. (i)]

I think that ‘abandonment’ requires a definition as there are many scenarios for the abandoning of a sewage or water delivery system.

In the definition of ‘environmental flow needs’ the words volume and time usually combine to form a rate e.g. volume/time = flow rate. I think a better word than ‘timing’ would be appropriate. [ 1.(l)]

Could the words ‘science’ and ‘scientific’ be left out of the Act? In an attempt to express the Precautionary Principle, ‘scientific’ gets wrapped up in the mind-warping  ‘lack of scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent degradation of water resources’. [page 5]. The Precautionary Principle is deserving of a more elegant statement.
On the next page [page 6] it is stated that decisions are to be made by ‘applying consistent science-based assessment processes’. Although ‘science-based’ is fashionable and trendy it does not elevate the language in a legislative act. 

B) Government of Canada jurisdiction

In the draft and associated documents there is no acknowledgement of the role of federal involvement in water e.g. fishkill prosecutions or waterways.

C) Access to information

There are two references to access to information in Part VIII of the draft:
1)    establishing fees [73.g(i)]  and
2)    respecting access [73.(k)].
Does not the FOIPP Act cover these?

Submission #3
All water - but especially ours on PEI - need to be safeguarded!
As a senior I remember farmers doing quite well without the need for "deep-water wells". I'm afraid that once again 
We are being held captive by large companies & corporations. 
Instead of promoting bottled water, (for use or sale) we should be encouraging green farming - personally, I would like to see 
"PEI -The Organic Island"! What a wonderful legacy to leave our children & grandchildren. Respectively.​

Submission #4
There should be absolutely no fracking allowed on PEI due to the potential risks to the environment, especially given our limited groundwater sources. There should be strict limits on water usage for farming, industrial, and private use. Our water table here is extremely limited and fragile.
 

April 11, 2017
Water Act Public Consultation Submission (provided in pdf)  


April 10, 2017 (Public Consultation Session - Charlottetown)
Audio recording of the session - part a (21 Mb)
Audio recording of the session - part b  (22 Mb)
Audio recording of the session - part c  (22 Mb)
Presentation - Dr. Don Mazer
Presentation - The National Farmers Union - District 1, Region 1 
Presentation - Cooper Institute 


April 10, 2017
Submission #1
This is the submission of Vision PEI to the public consultation process initiated by the provincial government respecting the implementation of a new Water Act for the Island.  Vision PEI is a network of Island citizens interested in a long-term sustainable culture in Prince Edward Island.  Vision PEI seeks to engage in discussion of any issue of concern or interest to the Island public. 

There will be many submissions in this process outlining the significance of PEI's water resources to the economic, social and environmental health of our province.  This cannot be overstated.  As an island, the limits to our resources, including water, are obvious.  Unlike continental jurisdictions such as Ontario or Alberta, our only source of water is the ground.  We have no access to large continental river systems or mountain glacier basins.  This means we must be more careful than other places about use of and access to water.  However, because of our isolation, we also have the ability for exclusive control of our groundwater.  This is an advantage.  Thus, in the creation of legislation respecting our water resource, we have the ability to maximize the potential for public good for Island residents that other provinces or jurisdictions do not.  In reviewing the draft legislation proposed, Vision PEI does not believe that the government has gone far enough in attempting to maximize the public good in relation to PEI's water resources. 

What is lacking is in the draft act is a real commitment to stewardship. Bearing in mind that most legislation utilizes neutral and legalistic vernacular, we must also, however, consider the dire environmental circumstances that exist in this province in relation to water pollution and water extraction.  Some of us are fortunate enough to have explored and observed the Island’s multitude of small streams, estuaries and watersheds in the recent past of the 20th Century prior to the advent of industrial farming practices. Some of us, even more fortunate, have been tutored by the "old people," our fathers, mothers, grandparents and, if we were especially lucky, the elders of our First Nations peoples. Their descriptions of our natural surroundings are unforgettable. Every tiny brook and stream ran clear, even after heavy rain. In spring they all were bursting with schools of smelts, squirming and roiling in their frenzy to spawn. Large brook trout slashing the surface while feeding on insects and smelt. Our estuaries were hard-bottomed sand and rock, home to seemingly unending beds of clams and oysters. Today, there is frequent reporting of fish kills in our streams, anoxic waterways, and negative effects on human health due to pesticides infiltrating our underground water table.  Vision PEI believes that this legislation is an opportunity for something that communicated a tone of urgency and determination to, if not return to the environmental health of our remembrances then at least forge a strong commitment to sustainable use and sustainable access based primarily on ecological principles. 

Thus, our submission targets certain provisions of the draft act where not enough, or even nothing, is said; where too much discretion is available to politicians or, even worse, unelected entities; where questions about enforcement of provisions are left to as yet unseen regulations.  Utter vigilance from government is required to protect the quality of water in the province.  As well, principles about the duty of government to protect the public good is needed to ensure availability of water to citizens of the province.  The provisions of the draft act are too silent on these issues and provide too much flexibility.  Specific concerns are the following: 
 •    Sections 7 and 28 are examples of the concern around Ministerial discretion.  Where the draft act refers not just to the Minister but the Minister and the Lieutenant Governor in Council, that is when the decision-making becomes less "administrative" (which it is when the "Minister" and/or his delegates are making decisions) and risks becoming "political" and/or hidden.  Transparency in legislation and governance is paramount but especially so in relation to water resources.  Moreover,
•    Sections 7 and 28 are examples of the concern around Ministerial discretion.  Where the draft act refers not just to the Minister but the Minister and the Lieutenant Governor in Council, that is when the decision-making becomes less "administrative" (which it is when the "Minister" and/or his delegates are making decisions) and risks becoming "political" and/or hidden.  Transparency in legislation and governance is paramount but especially so in relation to water resources.  Moreover, politicization of any issue is a risk at the cabinet level, however, again, in relation to water resources it is a potential nightmare.  Water is a life and death issue for humans, farm animals, wildlife and indeed our entire Island eco-system.  It is too important to become a "political football".
•    Similarly, public engagement mechanisms such as advisory councils are also discretionary possibilities.  If the government is serious about public engagement on this issue on an on-going basis in the future, stronger and more detailed mechanisms beyond advisory councils would be useful. 
•    Section 14  is a potential Ministerial "carte blanche".  It allows the Minister to "amend, suspend, revoke or impose terms and conditions"  on any orders made under the auspices of the Act by he or an Environmental Officer. There is nothing within that states that the Minister has to provide reasons for so doing.  Some kind of due process for this level of authority should be required but is lacking here and generally throughout the draft act. 
•    Another concern is section 46 which allows the Lieutenant Governor in Council to create a water "corporation" at arms length from government, similar to Island Waste Management Corporation.  Creating a Crown corporation to run water extraction, distribution and sewage systems lessens accountability and takes administration of access and regulation it out of public view and out of public control.  As mentioned, access to clean water is too important to the public to allow any reduction in accountability or transparency. 
•    The Transitional Provisions provide ample opportunities for political influence as well.  For example, section 74(5) provides a 5 year  grandfather clause which invites an onslaught of extraction applications to be adjudicated by the Minister.  Protection of our water systems must begin now and persons or entities who, in the present or past, have had unlimited access to our limited resource must be encouraged to find alternatives than to horde our common resource for individual gain. 
•    Agricultural practices (crop rotation, pesticides) and the effects of pollutants and sedimentation on waterways, despite broad hints from the current government that they would be addressed, are not mentioned in the draft act.  This is a glaring absence and is indicative of a lack of ecological perspective (that all aspects of Island activity are connected to the health of our water systems) necessary for effective resource protection. 
•     A clear statement about high capacity wells is also absent from the draft act.  Given the level of public engagement about high capacity wells and the moratorium on them, it would be appropriate for the new legislation to provide direction that this technology is not appropriate for our Island water resource. 
•    Prior to this process, there was an expectation that the issue of "fracking" for natural gas deposits would be dealt with in a new Water Act.  This is also a glaring omission.  Enough is already known about the risks of fracking to warrant a complete prohibition. If the issue of fracking is left to the regulations, it can easily be changed in an undemocratic way, by Cabinet, with no public consultations or even advance warning, at any point down the road, and that's unacceptable.
•    Finally, the process for the drafting of Regulations adjacent to any Act remains unclear and given what is missing from the draft act itself, one can assume that the writing of Regulations is underway in a hidden corner of the Executive Council.  This is unacceptable.  The only opportunity to discuss them will be after their tabling in the Legislature which will be time driven and thus limited.  Even if a thorough robust set of regulations are put forward, they are of little value if insufficient resources are guaranteed to enforce them.  Clearer benchmarks, to assist in implementation and enforcement, are needed both in act itself and the ensuing regulations. 

It is internationally recognized that access to clean drinking water and water systems is essential to the realization of an any human rights or indeed any economic or cultural pursuit in Prince Edward Island.  Strong commitment, intelligent progressive laws and regulations, community involvement and yes, vision, are required to ensure this.  Successive Island governments have paid little more than lip service to environmental issues all the while pouring dollars into failing and unprofitable business ventures.  Our politicians have been fond of the type of exploitative economic development that is plundering and poisoning habitat here, and around the world.

However, the majority of the citizens those politicians serve want more.  We require strong measures to stop the recklessness.  Mother Nature is resilient, and forgiving.  In addition to the intangible and aesthetic benefits of effective and sustainable natural resource protection, we believe there are also tangible dividends.  We ask those, including some Island politicians, who narrowly focus on short-terms profits to broaden their points of view by considering the health benefits, the tourism benefits, and the real potential for higher value exports from a pristine island with the cleanest of waterways and groundwater resources.  The current Water Act debates can be a "watershed" moment in our history. Let's seize it.  Let's insist on vision.

Submission #2
Please ensure that the following three points are addressed in the new Water Act and regulations:
- No new deep water wells for agricultural or other purposes.
- No fracking or use of water for fracking.
- No bottling of water for commercial purposes.

Submission #3
It is a good thing that the proposed Water Act prohibits the bottling of water for export sale -- clean drinking water was identified by the United Nations many years ago as a fundamental human right for all people, and I believe that selling clean drinking water for profit is a violation of this right.

Furthermore, on Prince Edward Island (and in most of the rest of Canada) there is no need for either the extraction or the sale of water, since our water is carefully monitored as being clean and safe to drink. These large companies (Nestles, Pepsi/Coke) are gauging the poor by 'suggestive advertising' indicating that we really need bottled water for our safety and our health. Of course, then there is also the question and potential problem of the making and disposing of those ubiquitous plastic bottles!

I am VERY concerned that the proposed Water Act does not specifically prohibit the use of our groundwater for 'fracking'. Given the type of rock on the Island, it seems to me that using groundwater for this purpose will greatly speed up the process of erosion natural to our Island rock composition. I haven't read anything to suggest that anything good can ultimately come from this type of fuel extraction, and I certainly do not think it is an activity that will benefit either our land, water or Islanders.

Please would you seriously reconsider these 'omissions'/concerns.
 

April 9, 2017
Submission #1
I welcome the work that has been done on the protection of water on PEI. I think more needs to be done. Fracking is causing so much distress in New Brunswick and other places that I think we need the law to ban the practice here before it becomes a problem. The worst problem with water in PEI, however, is fertilizers and other contaminants in the water; a stringent process should be put in place to prevent further contamination and to remove contaminants already in the water. I am aware that this is difficult, as everything put on the soil eventually seeps into the ground water, but surely it can be done. 

Submission #2
I am writing on behalf of the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA), a coalition of community, environmental and non-profit groups from across our province. Our dual mandate is to oppose the development of unconventional oil and gas and promote the move to a clean energy economy in order to prevent climate change.

We believe our activities of public education, lobbying, activism, and the filing of a lawsuit against the provincial government, all contributed to the current New Brunswick moratorium on shale gas development. The common denominator in all of our efforts was the reliance on peer-reviewed research.

As Nova Scotia and Newfoundland also have moratoria of some kind in place, we are puzzled that PEI’s proposed Water Act does not address this issue. We call your attention to two other jurisdictions that have recently chosen to legislate permanent bans on fracking, after multiyear moratoriums during which they studied the issue.

In the USA, the Governor of Maryland (a Republican, once in favour of shale gas) signed a ban, while stating that, “Our administration has concluded that the possible environmental risks of fracking simply outweigh any potential benefits.” (1) 

The Australian state of Victoria enacted its ban, “To ensure its clean green reputation of its agricultural sector, and to guarantee the health of rural farming communities in Victoria.” (2)

The stated reasons for the bans included the obvious threats to water supplies and public health, but also singled out threats to agriculture and tourism. It is hard to imagine anywhere in the world that would have more to fear from groundwater contamination, loss of tourism and threats to agriculture than PEI.

These foundations of PEI’s life and economy are the very things that would be lost to damage from an unconventional oil and gas industry. On such a small landmass as PEI, all of the industry’s normal activities, accidents and spills will have exaggerated impacts.

Places, where shale oil and gas have been extracted, have now also learned that even successful wells last only a few years, but problems from decommissioning and abandoning wells can affect potential land use for a long time, with expenses lasting well into the future.

During their moratoria, the two states above, as well as the province of New Brunswick, learned that as the amount of peer-reviewed scientific research expanded from almost no studies to many hundreds, the huge preponderance of evidence consistently pointed to a growing number of new threats, and the increasing severity of those already known.

This is particularly true in the areas of most concern. The Final Report of the USA EPA on water contamination found problems at every stage of the industry, with instances of pollution by fracking chemicals, flowback water and wastewater. NBASGA brought in world-renowned groundwater expert, Dr. John Cherry, to speak to our province’s Commission on Hydrofracturing. He stated that nowhere in the world have the effects of shale development on groundwater been adequately studied, and that there was no scientific basis for any government’s regulations concerning groundwater contamination.

The management of toxic, sometimes radioactive, wastewater also remains a problem with no acceptable solution. The industries primary practice of injecting it into deep wells has, along with fracking itself, caused earthquakes in places as varied as Alberta, BC, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Pennsylvania.

Public health research has unearthed a steady stream of serious ailments and illnesses associated with unconventional oil and gas extraction, particularly illnesses affecting children and the unborn.

In 2011, the American Public Health Association acknowledged potential health problems with fracking, but took a wait-and-see attitude, as research was new and limited. In 2016 they updated their position, citing 700 studies, and sounded an alarm.

"Environmental and health impacts are evident at every stage of unconventional gas development.”

“Mounting empirical evidence shows harm to the environment and to human health, and we have no idea what the long-term effects might be.”

“Ignoring the body of evidence, to us, is not a viable option anymore."

Likewise, new studies have found that the fugitive methane emissions from unconventional oil and gas have been greatly underestimated, and are now considered to have negative effects on climate change that equal or are worse than coal.

We submitted a comprehensive commentary with citations of the science to The New Brunswick commission in 2014, which helped secure our moratorium. It can be found on our website. But much science has been done since then, so we refer you to two places where all of the peer-reviewed science to back up our above statements is readily available and easy to access. (3) (4)

We note that the comments and recommendations in your public engagement certainly cited much of the new scientific knowledge.

So, we close by urging you to reference the two sources we provided to see the current state of the science. Once having done so, we believe that you will agree that any government considering a Water Act must address the issue of hydrofracking in order to make any sense, and to provide any comfort to its citizenry that the government is protecting its water and health.

Thank you for the opportunity to present our thoughts.

References
1.) http://grist.org/briefly/surprise-this-republican-governor-now-wants-his-state-to-ban-fracking/
2.) http://nofibs.com.au/community-campaign-wins-permanent-fracking-ban-in-victoria-reports-takvera/
3.) PSE Study Citation Database on Shale & Tight Gas Development http://psehealthyenergy.org/site/view/1180
4.) The Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking http://concernedhealthny.org/compendium/

Submission #3
Clear language is essential to ensure protection of water and ecosystems. 

- For several summers now Charlottetown residents are restricted how they can use water. This surely is a clear indication that our ground waters are dwindling.
- Fracking should be banned. The risks are just too high for a small island.
- Water contaminants should not only define but should also include a plan to eliminate them.
- Bottled water companies should not be allowed to export PEI groundwater.
- Deep water well should just not be allowed. Our island is surrounded by salt water. Why is desalination technology not used if water is needed for crop?

Submission #4
Last summer for the first time, Midgell river joined a number of other rivers in the Province by going anoxic (no oxygen).  Yet the acreage for potates farming in river watersheds along with clearcutting continue to increase.  What other results could anyone other that an idiot expect?

April 8, 2017
Submission #1
Good, clean drinking water is one of our precious resources. Fracking and deep water wells are a threat to this resource and should not be allowed in our province. I hope that a new Water Act will take this into consideration.

Submission #2
Please understand that "Our" water is just that "OURS". Let the people make this decision as Government makes really bad decisions in regards to the things they do not completely understand. 

One by one our voices are coming together, we will be heard, but will you listen?

Submission #3
When my son moved here from Ontario 3 years ago, he was looking forward to the fishing. PEI used to be known as a fishermen's paradise. He was so disappointed to find almost no fish in the streams and signs posted everywhere that fishing was not allowed. This was because of the fish kills - which is because of how farming is done. 
The Water Act needs to be strengthened so that it doesn't just define contaminants, but that a means is put into place to eliminate and prevent the contamination from happening in the first place. I realize this is a very large task as if involves the farming industry; but please remember, farming was thriving before Cavendish, Monsanto and the contaminants came to the island in the first place. Farming did not previously contaminate the water and cause fish kills. This requires a thoughtful and forward-looking plan. 
Although PEI seems to have so much water, deep water wells are a concern. We should not sacrifice Islanders' water sources so that Cavendish can sell more French fries. Currently, if I'm correct, deep water wells can be stopped by the minister. However, this should be strengthened so that it does not depend on one person's action; it should be entrenched in the Water Act. 
Thank-you.

Submission #4
Fracking: A provincial ban on fracking just makes sense. Along with concerns about water contamination, tailings ponds and the potential for earthquakes, the industry simply isn’t viable in PEI. This should be an easy victory for water protection.
Contaminants: The draft legislation defines water contaminants, but doesn’t include a plan to eliminate them. How will the water act protect groundwater from contamination? Clear language is essential to ensure protection of water and ecosystems.
Bottled water companies should not be allowed to export island groundwater. We have no natural source of groundwater other than existing watersheds.
Access to water seems to be protected, though this could be strengthened by referencing the UN-recognized human right to water and sanitation.

Submission #5
We need to stop water bottling companies from selling massive amounts of our water for profit. Safe drinking water belongs to the citizens of PEI and is a basic human right. I am also dead against fracking which will make the water in our acuafirs unfit to drink forever. We must protect our rivers and streams from all pollutants to protect our environment. Healthy environment, healthy people. It's as simple as that.


April 7, 2017
Submission #1
Fracking should never be allowed on PEI. We do not need chemicals in our groundwater. No company should be allowed to bottle and export water from PEI. And as far as Deep Water Wells goes " to the Premiers Discretion? "....do we have a democracy or a one-party -dictatorship.?

Submission #2
While I applaud the intent to protect PEI water with this proposed Water Act, I am dismayed that the terms do not go far enough. For example, fracking should be completely banned. There should be provisions for removing contaminants from water. The principle of contaminator pays should be adopted. Deep water wells should be banned completely, not left to a Minister's discretion. Companies such as Nestle must not be allowed to bottle PEI water.

Submission #3
I am glad that PEI is going to have a water act but I am wondering if it goes far enough to protect our ground water. I do not believe that there should be ANY deep water wells at all, even if some minister thinks it is a good idea. It isn't. Our ground water resources are limited and may be subject to wild fluctuations in the years of climate change to come. I also am totally opposed to fracking of any kind. Pouring hundreds of unnamed chemicals into the ground here (or anywhere) would be sheer insanity, given our limited and precious ground water resources. To preserve the purity of our water, the use of pesticides should be strictly limited and eventually phased out when possible. Also, I believe that those giant cruise ships should have strict limits put on the water they can draw from the Charlottetown supply, and that the water taken should be metered and charged a fair price for. With those giant ships sucking the city's water away, it is no wonder that the Winter River runs dry often and that other water resources are drawn down to dangerously low levels. Again, given the increasing fluctuations of weather that climate change will cause, we need to be very vigilant in protecting our PEI water. The Water Act should error on the side of prudence and caution!

Submission #4
Clean ground water in PEI is not

Bottled water companies will not be allowed to export PEI groundwater.  
Deep water well proposals can be stopped by the minister. This could be stronger by not allowing deep water well approvals at all, not just at the minister’s discretion.  
Access to water seems to be protected, though this could be strengthened by referencing the UN-recognized human right to water and sanitation.

Submission #5
Thank you so much for all the hard work on the water act. As we move to the finish line on this we need stronger language on several issues: we need to actively phase out chemical use on farmland and immediately institute a ban on all cosmetic pesticides; a permenant ban on fracking; ban all deep water wells; and institute strong regulations on crop rotation and buffer zones. I just drove from my home near Caledonia to Moncton today and every island river I crossed was red with silt. We are not protecting our drinking water and we are not protecting our rivers and streams. We must do better. Let's not rush this process. We must get this right and protect our water for future generations. It is, after all, a human right.

Submission #6
Despite the considerable support shown for a ban on high volume slickwater hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the act doesn’t even mention it.
Looking at the report following the public consultations, prohibiting fracking was not only one of the report’s general recommendations, but was also recommended as one of six guiding principles of the Water Act.
Four out of 25 of the report’s recommendations under the theme of ‘protection’ of water were that fracking should be banned. Four of the groups making presentations called for a ban.
At the Environmental Forum before the election, the Premier stated that “a moratorium may come through the Water Act process”. We were led to believe that the Water Act was the legislation that would be used to address this issue.
The prime cause for concern regarding fracking is water - the massive volume that is used and turned into industrial waste, and the almost certainty that groundwater (therefore our drinking water) will be polluted with noxious chemicals.
The Water Act banned the export of water. It should also ban the use of water for hydraulic fracturing, and ban the injection of toxic chemicals through the aquifer.

April 6, 2017
Submission #1
I was unable to attend the meeting about the Water Act Draft in Summerside but need to express how important it is to me and to all Islanders that there needs to be an outright ban on any fracking in P.E.I.. It has been demonstrated in place after place how damaging this practice is. It needs to be stopped everywhere but especially on this Island with it's limited resources. Fracking is STUPID and we need to protect this land from such exploitation by people who have no interest in caring for the natural treasure we have in this land. This is a political HOT POTATO and a ban on fracking DEFINITELY needs to be included in the Water Act. Why has there been no mention??? You will be hearing from many others about this issue.

Submission #2
Please add BAN FRACKING to the water act. Thank You.

Submission #3
I am terribly concerned that "fracking" might become a reality for PEI. This is disconcerting. The fracking processes introduces an inordinate number of chemicals into the earth and, in the case of a shale foundation, into the water base. Allowing fracking, even on a miniscule level, not only has potential to destroy the Island water base. It will, without doubt, destroy the water base. Because of the shale, that destruction will spread to the ocean waters and the supply of seafood -- the latter of which is also critical to the PEI economy. Without exception, communities in which fracking has been permitted have suffered not only water problems but also a serious increase in cancer levels and other illnesses. The danger of this process becomes obvious when even the inventor of the process now opposes it. Please...no fracking!

Submission #4
Very, VERY disappointing that there is no mention of the deep-well drilling - we MUST not allow this. Also no mention of fracking. What is wrong with you? When will you start to listen to the people as you promised you would? Why do you not put health of people and the environment and sustainability of our life here as a main priority?

April 5, 2017 (Public Consultation Session - Summerside)
Audio recording of the session (23Mb).
Presentation - Council of Canadians.


April 5, 2017

Submission #1
I agree with the following submission as quoted, "After carefully reading the draft Act, I still don’t know how we are going to protect water in this province. I would have liked to have seen, even in a preamble or in the “Inside the Water Act” document, a statement on how we’re going to substantially reduce nitrates and pesticides in our waterways. Islanders need and deserve clear and enforceable targets on reducing nitrates, agricultural and cosmetic pesticides, and soil erosion, and to know how these will be achieved. This will include everything from removing loopholes and strengthening the crop rotation legislation to increasing the width of buffer zones as needed to protect waterways.

There is no ban on fracking, something that the Premier promised would be dealt with in the Water Act.

There is no clear message on maintaining the moratorium on high-capacity wells for agriculture, something that most Islanders agree needs to be done."

I would add - ongoing research on our water quality is paramount to our health

Submission #2
Establishment of a Water Act is a positive step for the province. However, decisions on well permitting and water extraction should be based on the best available science, not "public opinion."

Government statistics show that we only use 1.4% of available water in PEI, and only 1.2% of that water use is for agricultural irrigation. That tells me that there is a lot of public hysteria over something that does not actually use a significant portion of our water resource. The blanket moratorium on high capacity wells for irrigation should be lifted, and the new permitting framework should apply to all high capacity well permits. If it is found that responsible water extraction for a couple of months a year, primarily in rural areas, will not adversely affect private wells or aquatic ecosystems, then they should be approved. To do otherwise is prejudicial against agriculture and runs opposite to the reality is most other jurisdictions.

We must rely on scientific data and expert opinion to assist us with making decisions on responsible water use, not emotional statements that are prejudiced against an entire industry.

Submission #3
On behalf of the Gros Morne Co-operating Association (GMCA), please find the Executive Summary report of May 2016 of the Newfoundland & Labrador Hydraulic Fracturing Review Panel. This Panel of 5 independent scientists and 15 independent scientific advisors arrived at the conclusion that the "precautionary principle" should be applied by the NL government. You will note its 85 recommendations including a request for a Human Health Impact Analysis PRIOR to allowing fracking. Also, for us, it was determined that fracking will not be beneficial economically, and that our tourism industry will be affected, not mentioning the environmental impact on a short and long term basis. The concept of Social Licence was very much part of this review and that the great majority of the people of the west coast of Nfld. were against fracking. I encourage your committee members to read this report also in terms to your contribution to climate change. (http://nlhfrp.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Executive-Summary.pdf)

Best of luck and with respect.

April 4, 2017
There is NO QUESTION Fracking must be BANNED. This would destroy not only our drinking water but the aquifer which our Agricultural and Fisheries and wells depend upon. Please do not only bandaid our Water Protection Act without applying this very essential layer BAN FRACKING!

April 3, 2017 (Public Consultation Session - Elmsdale)
Audio recording of the session (19Mb).
Presentation - Watershed Management Group and Municipality of Lot 11 and Area.

March 29, 2017

Submission #1
As a hydrogeologist I may be looking at this more holistically and offer the following closely related comment and question.

1) The volume to trigger approvals is probably higher than it should be and could/should be reduced, and should include farms in all cases since they make industrial use of groundwater in many cases.

2) Why target water bottlers and not other forms of water export, such as (very environmentally costly) irrigation water stored in potatoes?

Regarding item 2), we see similar situations here in Nova Scotia, where water bottlers are attached by the media and the public (with ill-directed political responses), whereby farms (for irrigation), food processors, and other manufacturers (i.e. tire manufacturers using groundwater to cool their dies) are able to extract much larger volumes of groundwater and discharge them to waste (some directly to the ocean, some through publicly-funded wastewater treatment plants), without any apparent implications from the public (ignorance is bliss). Yet, these farmers and manufacturers all export groundwater in the form of their products.

The time is overdue for regulatory policy to be based on sound science, rather than on misinformed public perception and ill-fated political hiccup responses. Please consider these concerns in your up-and-coming new regulations.

Submission #2
I have a summer cottage in a summer cottage subdivision with a central water system and would like the act to include no private wells allowed for the health and safety of residents and property values and investments that could be affected.

March 26, 2017
Comments on the draft Water Act, March 26, 2017

I have been involved with this process from the beginning, through the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island and the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water. The process to date has been great. In fact, I have been using it as an example of a solid public process when I attend national meetings on environmental assessment. Unfortunately, things seem to be falling apart at the end. The delays in releasing the report, combined with the almost simultaneous release of the Climate Change Strategy and Energy Policy have left people scrambling to keep up. And then there are only four public meetings and they are happening quickly. With all that, we suddenly find ourselves unaware of the process and timing. What is going to happen, and when? How will our comments and concerns be addressed? 

There are some excellent parts of the draft Act. The “purposes” section is very strong, especially(a) Government has a guardianship role to play in ensuring that the quality, quantity, allocation, conservation and protection of water is managed in the interests of a common good that benefits and accommodates all living things in the province, and their supporting ecosystems. If we just followed that simple statement, we could solve all the water problems on PEI. 

In the same section, it is good to see that (b) access for everyone to a sufficient quantity and safe quality of reasonably affordable and accessible water for personal and domestic uses, and to basic sanitation that is safe and hygienic, is essential for an adequate standard of living. I would like to see this strengthen to ensure that these are basic human rights, something that many presenters spoke about at the public meetings.

The plan for increased reporting on the state of our water is very welcome. With water being of such importance here,  and facing so many threats, this is long overdue. The ban on the export of water also sends a strong message to Islanders. The use of the term "precautionary principle" in the "Key Statements" is great to see, though I would have liked to see that exact term inside the actual Act. The idea of minimum environmental flows in Island waterways will, if we look at all components of a healthy ecosystem, go a long way to preventing problems such as those that regularly occur in the Winter River. Making information on water accessible and creating a public registry will be of great benefit to Islanders, not the least of which is that people will use water more carefully if they know that other members of the public is aware of what is happening. This information, and the registry, should be available on-line, and so I would like to see “shall” instead of “may” in these sections. There is also great potential for learning and adapting within the draft  Act,  so that as new information and even technology comes along, we can continuously improve.

I know that many of the things I am looking for should be in the regulations. But without knowing what they will contain, here are some of my concerns.

After carefully reading the draft Act, I still don’t know how we are going to protect water in this province. I would have liked to have seen, even in a preamble or in the “Inside the Water Act” document, a statement on how we’re going to substantially reduce nitrates and pesticides in our waterways. Islanders need and deserve clear and enforceable targets on reducing nitrates, agricultural and cosmetic pesticides, and soil erosion, and to know how these will be achieved. This will include everything from removing loopholes and strengthening the crop rotation legislation to increasing the width of buffer zones as needed to protect waterways.

If we don’t deal with the agricultural inputs head-on, this whole timely and expensive process will have been a missed opportunity. In Quebec’s 2002 water policy, they have a regulation on agricultural operations that aims to achieve balanced phosphorous levels in soils (related to pig farming), so we can surely do these things. They also promise to “Reduce the environmental impact of pesticides in agricultural areas by 2010.” (http://www.mddelcc.gouv.qc.ca/eau/politique/index-en.htm)

There is no ban on fracking, something that the Premier promised would be dealt with in the Water Act.

There is no clear message on maintaining the moratorium on high-capacity wells for agriculture, something that most Islanders agree needs to be done. 

The Act and regulations should include carrying out a Strategic Environmental Assessment of water in this province, with an eye to setting priority uses for water. Part of this would be the idea of wise usage, which could be tied to permitting. This would tie water conservation into the permitting system,  so that we would start looking at where water wastage occurs and find better options.

While the draft says that “An aquatic ecosystem is provincially significant if, in the opinion of the Minister, it
(a) contains significant populations of rare, endangered or uncommon aquatic species;” 
I don’t have an idea how these rankings would come about. We should be clear that we are using the S1 and S2 rankings of the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre and not just the federal Species at Risk rankings. And the Act should clearly state where this zone extends. The draft mentions “banks and shores” but doesn’t say if that is right on the shore or within the buffer or even further. So perhaps we need a better definition of the terms

I also believe that we should have something in place specifically to rebuild the trust of Islanders in their government’s protection of water. It is ridiculous that the fish kill investigations have been so blatantly in the shadows. An on-line updating mechanism would be a great start,  so that the public could know what is happening, what chemicals were present in what quantities, what are the dangers associated with these chemicals, and what do the timeframes and next steps look like for the investigations. It wouldn’t have to name names or anything, but just shine the light of day on these things. Otherwise, people continue to expect the worst.

We should also adopt the use of “eco-conditionality”, which is becoming more and more popular in Quebec and the EU. It makes the receipt of subsidies contingent on compliance with a number of environmental standards. The province touches on this with the Environmental Farm Plans, but since you don’t actually have to follow those plans and there is no monitoring, they do not fill this void. We really need to reward environmentally sound actions and stop funding anything that degrades the ecosystem. This could really help drive a change in practices.

As I said in my presentation to the Environmental Advisory Council in October of 2015, a comprehensive Water Act will not only protect the quantity and quality of Island waters. It will also have an incredible impact on the economy of the province. We are presently in the process of branding PEI as “Canada’s Food Island.” But if we continue to have fish kills, anoxic conditions, pesticides and nitrates entering the Strait and high levels of nitrate in our drinking water, the bad publicity will do more damage than any food promotion exercise can mask. These incidents are attracting national and international attention and undermine all the efforts to shine a spotlight on the high quality of our locally produced food.

March 17, 2017
I think this new water act is a necessary first step in protecting our natural resources. Selling water for profit is an affront to all citizens where access to clean, safe and sustainable water should be a right

 

Published date: 
March 16, 2017
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