Last chance for part one
Time is quickly running out for Islanders interested in providing input or feedback on a new Water Act. Today is the deadline for part one of the process which generated lots of interest in a series of public discussions last fall. In the second round, government will outline specific items to be addressed in the new legislation. Once again, the public will again be invited to comment.
Water is critically important since Prince Edward Island is the only province completely dependent on groundwater for its source of drinking water. More than any other province, our success depends on healthy soil, clean air and water. To its credit, government recognizes that protection of water is a fundamental responsibility.
The goal of the proposed Water Act is to protect the quality and quantity of the Island’s water and ensure that our water supply is healthy and sustainable now and into the future. The contents of the new act will receive unprecedented heavy scrutiny.
It’s been over three years since the P.E.I. potato industry began calling for an end to a lengthy moratorium on deep-water, high-capacity wells. It led to a huge public debate on the Island’s groundwater resource, forcing government into addressing the issue. That finally came in June 2014 when the province announced plans for a comprehensive Water Act. That was followed with a white paper in July 2015. That document promised legislation that will address all aspects of water management.
Public meetings were held across the province in October and November. Interest was so high that additional meetings were scheduled and now the Environmental Advisory Council will prepare a report, reflecting what it has heard throughout the first stage of consultation and present it to the Minister of Environment. This report will be made public. All submissions and presentations made to date are available for public review on the provincial Water Act website.
Up to the end of business today, feedback can be submitted on the province’s website and also via phone, email and written submissions.
There had been some criticism that government was fast-tracking the water act and there was a need to slow down the process. It’s been over 12 years since the moratorium on deepwater wells was put in place, almost two years since a water act was first announced and likely late this year before the final bill comes before the legislature for debate. It will likely face a series of amendments before third reading and passage into law. It could be 2017 before we have a Water Act on the books. Surely, three years or more should be long enough to get this important question dealt with.
And those critics who suggest such a scenario, had better get their input recorded by today. If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.