Water Issues on PEI -- including High Capacity Irrigation Wells

July 8th, 2015 -- The P.E.I. Government Department of Communities, Land and Environment has released a white paper on creating a Water Act for Prince Edward Island.

The eleven-page document has three purposes: background and resources, considerations for an act, and a outline of process. The timetable at this point is very general:

  • Fall 2015: public consultations on the white paper and what should be in the Water Act carried out in several communities. A panel made up of some members of the Environmental Advisory Council will be at every meeting, and the meetings will be moderated by the highly respected Jean-Paul Arsenault, who used to work for government and helped with a lot of those previous Reports and Roundtables (which are linked in the white paper).

  • Winter/Spring: Department of Communities, Land and Environment works on draft Legislation

  • Spring 2016: second series of public consultations on draft water act

  • Fall 2016 (November): Water Act legislation tabled in the P.E.I. Legislature.

The Department of Communities, Land and Environment website on a water act:


The link to the actual white paper:


You may need to download it and then open and print it that way for a readable copy, if you want to print it. Or contact citizensalliancepei@gmail.com to be send the pdf attachment.


A little sandbar in the midst of salty seas, Prince Edward Island is completely dependent on groundwater for all its freshwater uses, and this issue has made many Islanders pay attention to what is at stake and protect what we have.


For the past ten years, the P.E.I. government has had a moratorium on any new high capacity wells being drilled for agricultural irrigation.

Currently, there about about 80 high capacity wells already in operation; about 30 used for irrigating potato fields, and the rest for industrial and municipal uses (potato-processing plants, aquaculture, city water).

In Fall 2013, Cavendish Farms and the P.E.I. Potato Board asked the province to look into what was supposed to be a one-year hold and lift the moratorium. Their rationale is that they need to be more competitive in producing that long "french fry quality spud" with other North American areas where irrigation is commonly used.

In November 2013, the P.E.I. Watershed Alliance hosted a day-long symposium on the topic. Many of the notes and slide presentations from the speakers are here at the Watershed Alliance website.

Soon after, the Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I. hosted a gathering of representatives of organizations concerned about this issue, and from that the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water was formed.

Winter, Spring and Summer of 2014 had the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry hold meetings on the topic. Nearly 30 groups presented, and many organizations and individuals wrote, the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water being one of the first to appear. One of the last presenters was the Citizens' Alliance, recapping Islanders' concerns, and offering suggestions for how development of a comprehensive water act could proceed. Submissions are at the the PEI Water website (link below).

In Fall 2014, the Committee sent a report to the Provincial Legislature recommending the moratorium on high capacity wells for agricultural irrigation be kept, and a comprehensive water act be developed immediately. Their report is here at the Legislative Assembly website.

See http://www.stopplanb.org/updates for thoughtful letters published in local papers and commentaries on this issue.

See http://peiwater.com/

for news, blog and archives on this issue

from the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water.

(Sorry, this page is still under construction.)