A Charlottetown man wants the P.E.I. government to put tighter controls on the amount of water the city can use from the Winter River watershed.

Charlottetown gets virtually all its water from that watershed, and resident John TeRaa grew concered about the water supply after two branches of the river went dry last summer.

TeRaa thought the province had a law that limited water use to half of the rain and snow melt which recharges a river. TeRaa said Charlottetown used almost twice that in 2010 in one arm of the Winter River.

"The province does not hesitate to shut down a farmer's irrigation system if the water flow in a creek gets too low. Why not apply the same rule to the city?" said TeRaa.

In a letter to TeRaa, P.E.I. Environment Minister Janice Sherry said the 50 per cent recharge rule no longer applies. Instead, policies are created on a river by river basis. But Sherry agreed there is a problem with the amount of water being drawn from the Winter River watershed.

"We agree with you that the extraction rates in the uppermost area of the Winter River are no longer considered adequate to address the environmental needs of the river," she wrote.

Sherry said the city was told in 2010 to put water conservation and management plans in place, and repair system leaks to ease the pressure on the Winter River.

The city has made changes, but Coun. Eddie Rice said some of the solutions, like meters and repairing leaks, could take up to seven years to put in place. In the meantime, the city is running conservation campaigns, measures Rice said residents are supporting.

"They are making efforts to buy low-flow toilets. They're making efforts to put shower heads in that cut water consumption back," he said.

TeRaa doesn't believe these voluntary measures will be enough.

No one from the provincial government was available Friday to answer questions on the management of the Winter River watershed.

For mobile device users: Should there be a hard limit on the amount of water Charlottetown can take from the Winter River watershed?