Minister puts stop to construction of multiple low-capacity wells ahead of Water Act coming into effect
'This isn't to hurt our farming industry,' Steven Myers says
P.E.I.'s environment minister announced a major change Tuesday to the rules for building holding ponds.
Steven Myers says cabinet passed a ministerial order to prevent the construction of multiple low-capacity wells that, collectively, could act as a high-capacity well.
Myers said the decision was made in consultation with watershed groups, which had expressed concern that a number of holding ponds could be built in advance of the Water Act coming into effect June 16.
Those holding ponds would have been grandfathered in when the bill passed.
"This isn't to hurt our farming industry, this is to ensure we support them in a way forward that is focused on long-term sustainable strategy when it comes to water," Myers said in the legislature Tuesday.
"Our next step will be to create a sustainable irrigation strategy, as the leader of the Opposition suggested last Friday."
Myers said the new rules will remain in effect until June 16 when the Water Act takes effect.
Under the act, the moratorium on new high-capacity irrigation wells remains in place, and low-capacity wells that feed into holding ponds will have new rules.
Catherine O'Brien, chair of the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water, said she was "pleasantly surprised" by the announcement, and hopes the government keeps the public informed about further developments, including its irrigation strategy.
"Our water is incredibly vital and we need to protect it for future generations. And so taking an interest in the Water Act is really important for all of us."
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With files from Kerry Campbell and Sheehan Desjardins