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Prince Edward Island Water Policy Data


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Prince Edward Island is Canada's smallest province. The province's dependence on groundwater coupled with the presence of heavy industrial agriculture makes Islanders susceptible to agricultural runoff and contamination. As such, there has been more of a focus on water quality issues, rather than water quantity issues.  There has also been an effort by the Provincial Government to move towards watershed management and source water protection in incorporated municipalities. It should be noted that over half of the population lives in unincorporated areas.

Prince Edward Island water policy photo essay

Prince Edward Island water policy facts
(click any title below to reveal policy details)

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Basic Introduction
1: Central Water Legislation (Aug 11/11)
Water and Sewerage Act (2003)

Environmental Protection Act (1988)

Water Wells Act (2004)

PEI Fisheries Act (2009)

Right to Farm and the Pesticide Control Act (2009)

Planning Act (2009)

Other legislation that might impact water quality includes: Farm Practices Act (1998).



2: Key Ministries & Departments (Aug 11/11)
The Ministry of Environment, Energy and Forestry (Water Management Division) is responsible for the sustainable management, protection, and enhancement of the Province's drinking water, groundwater, inland surface water and coastal estuaries.  The Water Management Division regulates water and sewer infrastructure.  The division provides water - testing services (microbiological and chemical) and engineering advisory services to the general public, other provincial departments and agencies, industry, and municipalities. This division is also responsible for conducting baseline monitoring and assessment of the province's water resources.

The Department of Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour administrates the funding for water and sewer infrastructure.  

The Ministry of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development provides an advocacy role in the area of marine fisheries management and supports development of the marine fishery and aquaculture sectors. It also provides support to the processing sector, professional and technical services and fish inspection services.

3: Water Rights (Aug 11/11)
Prince Edward Island uses a riparian rights system in which rights are nontransferable. The agency primarily responsible for water allocation is the Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry (Water Management Division) as stipulated in the Environmental Protection Act (1988). Regulations pertaining to the Act include the Water Well Regulations (1988). As cited in deLoe et al. (2007), policies impacting water allocation are the Agriculture Irrigation Policy (1995) and Sustainable Resource Policy (2002).

Watercourse Alteration Permits are required for withdrawing surface water and Groundwater Extraction Permits are required for withdrawing groundwater. These extraction permits are based on volume, quality, and type of use. While there is no prioritization scheme in legislation, in practice, priorities are given to (in order): domestic, commercial, and irrigation.

All high- capacity wells (greater than 50 imperial gallons per minute) and all wells to be used for a central water supply system must go through a Groundwater Exploration Permit procedure. There is no maximum eligible quantity. A Water Extraction Permit is issued after assessing the test information collected in the associated Water Exploration Permit and determining that the groundwater extraction will not have any significant impacts on other groundwater users or the environment. It should be noted that in 2003, drought conditions led the province to place a moratorium on permits for the construction of new high-volume irrigation wells. The moratorium is still in place (Novaczek, personal communication, January 8th, 2010).

First Nations rights to water are not yet explicitly and legally acknowledged in any provincial or federal legislation. The 1987 Federal Water Policy (Environment Canada, 1987) acknowledges Native interests in water but this has not generally been reflected in provincial allocation decisions.

4: Data Collection/Monitoring (Aug 11/11)
Several groundwater and surface water monitoring programs are being carried out by the Water Management Division to measure and track water quality and quantity.  Key programs include: the Pesticide Research and Monitoring Program, PEI Groundwater Pesticide Monitoring Program, Public Water Data, Stream Flow Monitoring, Monitoring the Groundwater Table on PEI, Canada/Prince Edward Island Water Quality Agreement, Bacterial Sampling for Environment Canada, PEI Estuary Survey, Targeted Monitoring, Other Water Quality Monitoring Activities (Government of PEI, 2008).

There are no provincial or territorial programs to monitor drinking water or water resources in First Nations communities.

5: Transboundary Issues (Aug 11/11)
Two major transboundary issues affect Prince Edward Island residents: aerial depositions and climate change.

Aerial depositions including heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants (i.e., acid rain) are still a problem in Prince Edward Island and affect both surface and ground water quality (Novaczek, personal communication, January 8th, 2010).

There are no agreements between any levels of government acknowledging First Nations water rights, except those delineated under land claim or self-government agreements, such as the Nisga'a Agreement.

Water Quality
1: Drinking Water Laws (Aug 11/11)
The Drinking Water and Waste Water Facility Operation Regulation (2004) provides regulation for drinking water operations.

The Drinking Water Strategy (2001) uses a multibarrier approach to protecting drinking water, focusing on source protection, system design, and operation for municipalities.

An operator certification is required. Disinfection of drinking water is not required by the province in practice, but all municipalities disinfect-water utilities must show that the water supply is free from bacteria over any 6-month period or they must disinfect (Bakker, 2007). In Prince Edward Island 50 contaminants are monitored (20 organic, 14 inorganic, and 16 other), although water purveyors are not required to report annually to consumers.

First Nations communities are located on Federal Reserve land, which falls within Federal jurisdiction. Provincial drinking water legislation does not apply to these communities.

2: Source Water Protection (Aug 11/11)
The Drinking Water Strategy (2001), Environmental Protection Act (1988) with Drinking Water and Wastewater Facility Operating Regulations (1988) and Well Water Regulations (1988); and the Clear from the Ground to the Glass Strategy (2000) all address source water protection at some level.

The Ministry of Environment, Energy and Forestry is responsible for water resource management including source water protection (although it is not explicitly legislated to do so). In Prince Edward Island, 100% of drinking water is from groundwater supplies and 57% of residents rely on private well systems (Government of PEI, 2007). Under the Environmental Protection Act (1988), municipalities (but not rural wells) must develop and submit a wellfield protection plan to protect water supplies for the municipality based on standard capture zones under the Drinking Water and Wastewater Facility Operating Regulations (2004).  It should be noted that there is no regulated management of pesticide or manure.

Source water protection policy does not address protection of First Nations water.

3: Wellfield Protection (Aug 11/11)
Wellfield protection plans are required for homeowners within municipal borders but not rural homeowners, as is driller certification under the Drinking Water and Wastewater Facility Operating Regulations (2004).  According to the regulations, municipalities that own a public drinking water supply facility must develop a wellfield protection plan for the principal sources of drinking water, including any well fields or wells that collectively provide two-thirds or more of the overall drinking water demand of the serviced area of the municipality.

A well field protection plan must include an emergency response plan or contingency plan to address accidental releases of contaminants or other unplanned events that may threaten the quality of ground water within any capture zone that has been identified by the Department of Environment for the wellfield (Drinking Water and Wastewater Facility Operating Regulations, 2004)


4: Groundwater Permitting (Aug 11/11)
The entire population of Prince Edward Island relies on groundwater, either through individual wells or municipal supply systems. The Ministry of Environment, Energy and Forestry administers the groundwater permitting process. The Groundwater Licensing Regulation (1988) is found under the Environmental Protection Act (1988).

The reporting requirements are by location, source, and purpose of extraction. Section four of the Water Well Regulations (1988) requires a well contractor to complete a construction report and submit it to the owner and the Department of Environment. There are no notification requirements for permit applicants unless environmental assessment requirements apply. There is no institutionalized mechanism for participation in the permit decision-making process and no mechanism for citizens to appeal permit decisions. There is also no public database of permit information.

Provincial permitting processes do not apply to Federal lands such as First Nations reserves and communities.

5: Storm/Waste Water Management (Aug 11/11)
The Water and Sewerage Act (2003) and the Drinking Water and Wastewater Facility Operating Regulations (2004) regulate wastewater management in the Province.

Presently, Prince Edward Island communities are served by central wastewater treatment plants. The entire municipal population (not including the rural population) is serviced by wastewater treatment of one sort or another. With the exception of the Yukon, this achievement is unique in Canada (Government of PEI, 2005).

Provincial or territorial policies and strategies do not apply or include First Nations reserves or communities.

6: Ecosystem Quality Needs (Aug 11/11)
The Province of Prince Edward Island adopted the Wetland Conservation Policy in 2003. In reviewing development proposals for impacts on wetlands, the policy of the Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry has been avoidance and minimization of destruction. The Wetland Conservation Policy (Government of PEI, 2003) states,

Wetlands are to be avoided unless the project is in the greater public interest or impacts on public safety; and, in the rare case where the effects of development on a wetland cannot be avoided, potential negative impacts are to be minimized. (p.1).

It should be noted that there is no public consultation process for project-by-project decisions affecting wetlands (Novaczek, personal communication, January 8th, 2010). The Wetland Conservation Policy (2003) formalizes that process and introduces the principles of compensation and no net loss. In those rare instances where a development that impacts on a wetland is approved, the proponent of the project must compensate for any loss of wetland area and wetland function, which means replacing the wetland or restoring one of a similar class.

Water Quantity
1: Water Conservation Strategy (Aug 11/11)
There is no water conservation plan at this time.

Learn more about Prince Edward Island conservation initiatives and requirements with the Alliance for Water Efficiency

2: Ecosystem Quantity Needs (Aug 11/11)
The Wetland Policy for Prince Edward Island is intended to complement existing legislation, regulations and operational policies protecting wetlands. All wetlands in Prince Edward Island currently receive some protection under Section 10 of the Environmental Protection Act (1988). This policy is intended to accentuate the importance of maintaining wetland functions and values and recommends appropriate mitigation mechanisms to ensure no net loss of wetlands or wetland functions.

3: Interbasin Transfers (Aug 11/11)

Prohibited under the Environmental Protection Act (1988).


4: Climate Change Linkage (Aug 11/11)
In 2001, the Prince Edward Ilsnad Government released Curbing Climate Change - Prince Edward Island's Climate Change Business Plan, as well as Prince Edward Island and Climate Change: A Strategy for Reducing the Impacts of Global Warming in 2003.

References (Aug 11/11)
Bakker, K. (2007) Eau Canada: The Future of Canada's Water, Vancouver: UBC Press

de Loë, R., C. Varghese, J., Ferreyra C., & Kreutzwiser R.D. (2007). Water Allocation and Water Security: Initiating a Policy Discussion in the 21st Century. Guelph,ON:Water Management Group, University of Guelph.

Drinking Water and Wastewater Facility Operating Regulations, P.E.I. Reg. EC710/04.

Environment Canada and the Government of Prince Edward Island (1999) P.E.I. Water Quality Interpretive Report. Retrieved March 26th, 2010 from http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/waterquality_99.pdf

Environmental Protection Act, R.S.P.E.I. 1988, c. E-9

Farm Practices Act, R.S.P.E.I. 1988, c. F-4.1.

Fisheries Act, R.S.P.E.I. 1988, c. F-13.01.

Government of Prince Edward Island. (1995). Agriculture Irrigation Policy. Retrieved March, 29, 2010 from http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/irrigatpolicy_e.pdf

Government of Prince Edward Island. (2002). State of the Environment. Retrieved March 29, 2010 from http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/fae_soe_summary.pdf

Government of Prince Edward Island (2003) A Wetland Conservation Policy for Prince Edward Island. Retrieved March 26th, 2010 from, http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/fae_wetland_con.pdf

Government of Prince Edward Island (2003) Prince Edward Island and Climate Change: A Strategy for Reducing the Impacts of Global Warming. Retrieved March 26th, 2010, from http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/env_globalstr.pdf

           
Government of Prince Edward Island (2005) Wastewater treatment in Island communities. Retrieved March 26th, 2010, from, http://www.gov.pe.ca/infopei/index.php3?number=18504

Government of Prince Edward Island (2007) Drinking Water Strategy. Retrieved March   26th, 2010, from            http://www.gov.pe.ca/envengfor/index.php3?number=50234⟨=E

Government of Prince Edward Island (2008) Water Monitoring. Retrieved March 26th, 2010, from, http://www.gov.pe.ca/envengfor/index.php3?number=1015819

Institute of Island Studies, University of Prince Edward Island (2008) Submission to the   Commission on Nitrates in Groundwater. Retrieved March 26th, 2010, from, http://www.upei.ca/iis/files/iis/Submission%20to%20the%20Commission%20on%20Nitrates%20in%20Groundwater.pdf

J. Novaczek, personal communication, January 8th, 2010

Pesticides Control Act, R.S.P.E.I. 1988, c. P-4.

Planning Act, R.S.P.E.I. 1988, c. P-8.

Water and Sewerage Act, R.S.P.E.I. 1988, c. W-2.

Water Well Regulations, P.E.I. Reg. EC188/90.

Build a table comparing Prince Edward Island policy to any of the following provinces & territories: (MAX of 2)
Alberta

British Columbia

Manitoba

New Brunswick

Newfoundland

Northwest Territories

Nova Scotia

Nunavut

Ontario

Québec

Saskatchewan

Yukon


Prince Edward Island water policy documents

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