The P.E.I. government will introduce a water act to ensure sustainable management of the Island’s water resources, Environment Minister Janice Sherry announced this morning.
Environmental and water conservation groups have been calling for legislation to protect P.E.I.’s water as part of an ongoing campaign raising concern over a proposal by the potato farming industry to lift the moratorium on deep-water wells.
Sherry says bringing in a water act will show government’s commitment to managing water resources in a sustainable manner.
No consideration will be given to lifting the moratorium on high capacity wells for agriculture irrigation until the water act and regulations are in place, Sherry said.
She added Islanders will have a say in what this new act will entail.
“There will be broad consultations with Islanders and experts in the development of the new act,” Sherry said in a news release issued this morning.
The proposed water act will create new legislation for areas such as groundwater allocation, discharges into fresh and marine water environments and mandate targets for water quality.
Currently there are various pieces of legislation, regulations and policies in place, but no comprehensive set of water policies embodied in one piece of legislation.
The new water act proposes to address that need.
The development of a water act was also one of the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry following its consultations earlier this year on high capacity wells for agriculture irrigation.
Sherry says the act will address a wide range of matters related to the supply and quality of water, including drinking and wastewater facilities, conservation and watercourse and wetland protection.
As part of the process for developing the water act, a white paper will be released, public consultations will be carried out by an arms-length group and a review of legislation in other jurisdictions will be undertaken.
The work will begin immediately.
“Islanders have told us very clearly that they attach the utmost importance to the protection of our water and we have listened to what they are telling us,” Sherry said.