CHARLOTTETOWN -- The Prince Edward Island Potato Board is encouraging Islanders to participate in an informed dialogue concerning the provincial moratorium on new agricultural wells for irrigation.
The Potato Board has requested the removal of the moratorium provided that scientific data supports that the wells will not harm the environment and the groundwater supply.
Accompanying the board’s position on agricultural wells is an infographic that indicates P.E.I. presently uses only seven per cent of the available groundwater recharge, and, of that seven per cent, 60 per cent is taken up by residential use and 30 per cent goes for commercial use. According to the infographic, livestock uses eight per cent, agricultural irrigation uses one per cent and other irrigation uses one per cent.
“As we have repeatedly stated, we fully support fact-based dialogue toward the development of a policy that ensures the long term environment and economic sustainability of our province,” stressed board chairman, Gary Linkletter.
The board suggests information on P.E.I.’s water extraction policy, available online at gov.pe.ca/environment/water-extraction, would be useful in the discussion.
“The Department of the Environment has indicated that agricultural irrigation accounts for only one per cent of total water usage. The current moratorium only applies to this relatively small amount of water used for irrigation, while other industries are not subject to a moratorium on high capacity wells,” the board emphasized. It suggests supplemental irrigation would have negligible impact on the available groundwater supply, because the water would be drawn for only a few weeks a year in areas where high capacity wells are approved. As well, it suggests, with irrigation, growers could use less land to grow the same amount of potatoes. It adds that not all growers would use irrigation.
It indicates P.E.I. has one of the highest groundwater recharge rates in Canada, and double the recharge rates of other agricultural regions in the Maritimes.
The potato growers of PEI embrace the responsible environmental stewardship of the province, the board insists. “We are working diligently in this regard, with investments in modern soil conservation practices in potato fields and through initiatives such as the Farming 4R Future nutrient management project. Environmental sustainability projects and education have become priorities for potato growers, as maintaining our soil and water resources is as important to farm families as it is for all Islanders.”