Positions differ on deep water wells

Journal Pioneer staff
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

SUMMERSIDE - Island potato growers and the Council of Canadians are on opposite sides of the fence over the issue of deep water wells.

 

Growers say that Information provided at a recent Watershed Alliance workshop held November 30 shows that the province has ample groundwater resources for supplemental irrigation. Recent studies by the PEI Department of Environment, Labour and Justice have shown that the annual recharge rate for groundwater in Prince Edward Island is very high and that increasing the use of groundwater for irrigation of crops would use a very small fraction of available groundwater resources.

 “PEI growers see both economic and environmental benefits to having the choice to utilize irrigation from deep water wells,” said Gary Linkletter, chairman of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board. “By providing water to potato crops more consistently, growers are able to increase yield and food quality while increasing the overall health of the plants. Healthy plants in turn require fewer pesticides and better use available nutrients, leaving less excess nitrogen and phosphorous in the soil after harvest, benefits which would help to reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment.”

Leo Broderick with the Council of Canadians said there is a huge danger in allowing deep well irrigation in the province.

“Our ground water is not an infinite resource and we will suffer from long-term ground water depletion,” he said. “Eventually our water table will respond causing serious environmental damage and affecting individual and municipal water supplies.”

Growers say that supplemental irrigation for growing crops in Prince Edward Island is used only during the height of the growing season and would only be used for a limited number of days per year on each field and is in stark contrast to the 365 days per year that water is drawn from deep wells for municipal water supplies.

Maude Barlow, national chair of the Council of Canadians and the United Nations’ first senior adviser on water issues said, she values the role of farmers, and understands their need for a steady source of water.

“But it is imperative that they not be allowed to imperil the Island’s limited ground water,” she said. “Unbridled irrigation is a source of great threat to water around the world. The planet is running out of accessible freshwater. We must fiercely protect what is left of our water sources and in fact, move to restore spent watersheds.”

Broderick said government should begin to transform P.E.I. agriculture into “a sustainable food production system putting small-scale farms at the center of the transformation.”

newsroom@journalpioneer.com

Organizations: Watershed Alliance, PEI Department of, Prince Edward Island Potato Board United Nations

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Sterart Smith
    February 09, 2014 - 13:24

    It shouldn't ever have come to this. Cavendish/McCain shareholders are forcing their contract farmers to poison us with nitrates and pesticides, and block our streams, and now they want to blackmail these poor farmers into wasting our public water supply - just so they can make more profit. They are killing hundreds of Islanders with cancer each year, just to make a profit. It has to stop.

  • Darcie Lanthier
    February 08, 2014 - 17:38

    Please tell us how much water the potato industry uses now? There are 35 high capacity wells and hundreds of regular wells already used for irrigation. This combined with washing and processing accounts for as much water consumption as 40 or 50,000 citizens. Unlike the Department of the Environment, I do not consider it a waste if water is allowed to flow naturally from springs to streams without first being polluted in a potato field.

  • Darcie Lanthier
    February 08, 2014 - 17:37

    Please tell us how much water the potato industry uses now? There are 35 high capacity wells and hundreds of regular wells already used for irrigation. This combined with washing and processing accounts for as much water consumption as 40 or 50,000 citizens. Unlike the Department of the Environment, I do not consider it a waste if water is allowed to flow naturally from springs to streams without first being polluted in a potato field.

  • Well Wisher
    January 06, 2014 - 09:29

    Yeah, great idea !!! Lets give the farmers full rights on all the groundwater as it is not quite destroyed yet. It would be nice to also provide some tax dollars to support some massive irrigation programs to these farms. While we are figuring this out, we might as well look into water metered tanks with restrictions on water use for the future as this is where we are heading if this goes through. This is the bigger picture.

  • Wake up
    January 05, 2014 - 23:31

    I suggest you all look at the bigger picture here...If we do not allow the farmer access to the water they need to grow higher quality potatoes then the processing plants are going to look elsewhere for the potatoes they need to produce thier fries!!! If the processing facilities need to go elsewhere for potatoes what would be the advantage of them having plants on PEI and trucking potatoes here in order to produce the finished goods?? No advantage..they pull the pin and they are gone. Let the farmers have access to the water they need..it is not like they are going to turn on the tap and let it run dry....they will use it when they need to in the dry growing season....the rain will fall and replenish the ground water...the only difference is....they will be able to use it when they need it and not when mother nature thinks they should have it!!!

    • UPWESTER
      January 06, 2014 - 10:57

      And you will absolutely guarantee this? The french fry plant is not the be all end all for PEI. In fact, it has single handedly been the ruination of the family farm as we once knew it.Bigger is not always better.Scare tactics don't work here. What if the french fry plant moved, so what? That just might be a good thing. Everyone seems to want to allow factory farming because it produces a few jobs.If Islanders didn't rely so much on the Irvings and McCains, maybe they would have some gumption and statr businesses of their own instead of being a seasonal worker for these big companies and be on EI six months of the year.