Prince Edward Island will bring the Water Act into effect on June 16, 2021. This will help ensure the government is able to manage and protect water resources for the common good.
“Islanders want and deserve strong regulations, evidence-based decisions, and healthy rivers and streams,” said Environment, Energy, and Climate Action Minister Steven Myers. “Bringing the Water Act and water withdrawal regulations into effect will allow us to manage and track who is using what amounts of water, provide government experts with additional data, and increase public transparency on water use.”
The Water Act is supported by four sets of regulations including updated Water Withdrawal regulations, which were the subject of public consultation in the fall of 2019. Under these regulations all water wells drawing above the level of domestic household consumption will require a permit. Following public and community feedback, government is strengthening the water withdrawal regulations.
As required under the Water Act, government will provide the regulations to the Standing Committee of Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability for 90 days, at which point they will take effect. The regulations continue to be available online for public comment.
Under the provision for research, the Province will be permitting the proposal by the Canadian Rivers Institute at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) into the impacts of high-capacity wells in agricultural irrigation and the environment. The Province will invest in the project, removing the need for financial contributions from industry.
The research program is also being expanded to consider soil health and the relationship between soil health, nutrient management, and supplemental irrigation. Maintaining soil health and organic matter levels is important for soil productivity and for maximizing the benefits of supplemental water use.
Farms participating in the irrigation study will be asked to develop a Soil Health Improvement Plan. Producers will create individual plans for each farm property that outlines the management practices, including the monitoring of soil health over time, in place to support soil health.
Additional enhancements are planned to support soil health through Department of Agriculture and Land. The enhancements include:
- A merit-based program for the construction of erosion control structures.
- An incentive for soil building rotational crops.
- An increase in support for spring tillage and winter cover crops.
- The addition of the soil health testing package to the long-term Soil Quality Monitoring Project.
“Our goal at the Department of Agriculture and Land, is for a progressive, dynamic agriculture industry that is both financially sound and environmentally responsible,” said Bloyce Thompson, minister of agriculture and land. “I support decisions about water being informed by science and this research will provide valuable information on supplemental irrigation as part of a sustainable approach to farming.”