We can't take chances with our groundwater

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If the volume and sentiment of recent letters to the editor are indicative of Islanders' feelings, a vast majority of us breathed a sigh of relief to read that Minister (Janice) Sherry remains open-minded, and that any decision on high-capacity wells will be based on " . . . informed discussions. We need facts. We need science."

It appears as if the potential lifting of the moratorium on high-capacity wells for irrigation of potato fields may be - excuse the pun - a watershed issue on P.E.I. The crux of Minister Sherry and the potato board's shared position is that "the science" supports a lifting of the ban. But science is not a package of carefully filtered information presented as a final, incontestable truth; it is a dynamic, continuously unfolding process. Science is the ongoing clash of differing ideas from which the light of truth temporarily shines, until newer and better information illuminates the issue further.

When it comes to groundwater on P.E.I., we know so very little. As the saying goes, it's not that we don't know all the answers, we don't even know the right questions to ask.

The complexity of Island hydrology and the importance of water in our lives insist that we proceed with extreme caution.

Many informed experts have already expressed grave concern about lifting the moratorium, and most "ordinary" Islanders with generations of accumulated knowledge seem to be saying that the lifting of this ban represents a line in our red soil that we must not cross.

Unlike some other issues, when it comes to our water, there is no Plan B. We must get this right the first time.

Islanders have an important decision to make; we need farming - indeed I believe that our province's economic future will depend, perhaps more than ever before, on farming.

But it must be a type of farming that will rebuild our soil, not denude it, will protect our water, not threaten it, and will revitalize rural communities and create long-term economic prosperity.

I am not anti-farming - quite the opposite - but I am anti-screwing up our water.

Peter Bevan-Baker

Leader of the Green Party of P.E.I.



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