What was notably absent from government’s press release on the implementation of the Water Act is that these changes would include lifting the moratorium on high-capacity wells for irrigation that has protected PEI waterways for nearly two decades says Green Party MLA Hannah Bell.
"The lifting of the moratorium on high capacity wells for agricultural purposes is "a monumental decision that will affect future Islanders for generations to come." says Hannah Bell, who is the Official Opposition critic for Environmental, Energy, and Climate Action.
Bell criticized the official announcement, saying it did not specifically mention the end of the moratorium, but rather said changes to water withdrawal regulations would be done in tandem with a sustainable irrigation strategy.
"Developing a sustainable irrigation strategy that properly protects our water resources is crucial to the success of this Act," said the Charlottetown- Belvedere MLA." This will be a major undertaking that should not be rushed."
She said the government press release was also ambiguous about whether this irrigation strategy will be in place before the moratorium is lifted. She went on to say " We need a commitment from government that the moratorium will not be lifted until an irrigation strategy that all Islanders are comfortable with is in place. We need to work toward a consensus on how we manage this critical resource."
The Green Party MLA added "We know farmers need water – we want farmers to be able to access water where that can be done without endangering our waterways. Government needs to convince us, and more importantly the Island public, that they can manage and regulate water in a responsible and equitable way."
Bell said the province "needs to do its homework on this, and we will be watching very closely to make sure they do."