The P.E.I. government opened its consultations on a planned Water Act Tuesday night, and heard at its first public meeting that there is a lot of work to do.
"Our record in terms of the quality of our groundwater and our stream water on the Island is not good," said Roger Gordon of Pesticide Free PEI, one of the groups presenting at this first meeting.
The government has scheduled 11 meetings over the next month, two more than originally planned because registration at the original nine filled up. The room was full when Land and Environment Minister Robert Mitchell opened the first meeting in Charlottetown Tuesday night.
The Water Act is intended to provide all-encompassing legislation for how water is used on P.E.I., and how to protect it.
Gordon believes a lot of that comes down to how agriculture works in the province.
"We feel that the agri-sector has to look at new ways of doing things," said Gordon.
A more mixed model of farming on P.E.I., Gordon said, could help reduce pesticide use.
'This is time we take stock '
Vern Smitheram, chair of Friends of Covehead and Brackley Bay, said for too many years issues with the Island's water have been analyzed without any action being taken.
"Nitrates, fish kills, etc. I think this is time we take stock," said Smitheram.
"We really are at a point where we have to make some very basic decisions about how we're going to look at water and to start dealing with the problems, and not keep putting them off."
The province plans to have a first draft of the Water Act done this winter, which will then go to public consultation in the spring, and have a final act ready for the legislature next fall.
Some advocates have spoken out to say the process is being rushed. Minister Mitchell has said the timeline could be shifted if needed.