Barlow pleased Island moving to protect its water

By Chris Gregory

Sept. 23, 2015

When Maude Barlow saw P.E.I. was finally doing something to protect its water, she was delighted.

The government is holding a consultation process beginning this fall and legislation is expected next year for new water act.

Concerns about water usually get swept under the rug, but she can finally breathe in relief knowing something’s being done, said the chair of the Council of Canadians.

“All they talk about is the economy, but they won’t be talking about the economy when we run out of water,” Barlow said.

Barlow made the comments Sept. 22 at a panel in Charlottetown during a public forum on water use.

The new law will preserve water for future generations and ensure the ongoing health of our ecosystem, Barlow said to an audience of about 100.

“This water act must be put forward and must be accepted and adopted with changes that you will all be promoting.”

Catherine O’Brien is the chair of the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water.

The early stages of developing the new water law have been scary, especially for her, not knowing how to approach it, she said.

“It seemed overwhelming and daunting at first, but there’s so many people here that care and I quickly saw that.”

The quality and quantity of the groundwater on P.E.I., given it’s the only source, is important and it’s something that can’t go undiscussed, she said.

“We only have one water source. This is our water. Yes, it is a little Island and we do have a lot of it, but what happens when it’s gone,” she said.

“We are very lucky in that we have an incredible island with a lot of natural water and it’s something that we need to protect.”

Steven MacKinnon is an Island farmer and district director of the National Farmers Union.

The value of water isn’t something that’s appreciated, as it should be, he said.

He attends meetings of the national union and the topic of water comes up frequently. P.E.I. only has one source of water, so there isn’t breathing room for future generations, he said.

“There’s always talks about the amount of water we have. When we rely on groundwater 100 per cent, we can’t mess with it. It’s way too precious to throw around like we do now.”