Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Government of Prince Edward Island

Government of Prince Edward Island

February 16, 2009 14:01 ET

Prince Edward Island Agriculture Gets Federal Investment to Improve and Protect Water Resources

CHARLOTTETOWN, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND--(Marketwire - Feb. 16, 2009) - Prince Edward Islanders will be able to count on safer, more reliable water supply thanks to eight new wetland and water resource projects announced by the Governments of Canada and P.E.I. today.

The Honourable Gail Shea, P.C., M.P. for Egmont and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, today announced support for eight projects in Prince Edward Island that will improve and protect the province's water resources and wetlands.

"A safe and secure water supply is important to all Islanders and it is critical to the future of the province's farmers and agriculture industry," said Minister Shea who made the announcement on behalf of Federal Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz. "Projects like these increase access to safe and reliable water sources which helps farmers make their living, while contributing to the protection of the environment."

Federal funding of $397,280 for these projects will be made under the Canada-Prince Edward Island National Water Program (CPEINWP), which focuses on environmental training, soil and water conservation projects, research on nitrogen leaching and better identification of the province's wetlands.

The P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and the P.E.I. Department of Environment Energy and Forestry will provide $68,500 in in-kind support.

"Prince Edward Island's groundwater resources are vital to our agriculture industry and to our residents," said George Webster, provincial Minister of Agriculture. "We all rely on quality water for drinking, for cleaning, for recreation and for industry. This partnership with the federal government will allow Prince Edward Island to better understand its water resource and to better protect that resource."

The projects are being funded under Tier Three of the CPEINWP. Tier Three projects support feasibility and environmental studies, expanded water infrastructure and increased knowledge of groundwater sources. For more information on the program, please visit www.agr.gc.ca/nwsep.


BACKGROUNDER

The eight projects announced today received a total of $397,280 in federal funding, with $68,500 in in-kind support from the Government of Prince Edward Island. The projects fall under Tier Three of the Canada-Prince Edward Island National Water Program. The objective of the Canada-Prince Edward Island National Water Program is to ensure the agricultural sector has access to secure, good quality water supplies. This will assist farmers in meeting their water needs through a water management program that stresses efficient and effective use of available rural water.

P.E.I. Wetland Interpretation ($95,000)

Changes to P.E.I. Environmental Protection Act regulations will see expanded buffer zone requirements for wetlands and watercourses in the province. This project will create a Geographic Information System (GIS) layer that defines the location and size of these wetlands. This GIS layer will give farmers the information they need to comply with the new buffer zone requirements. GIS uses data and software to accurately display geographic features.

Riparian Health Assessment Training ($100,660)

The P.E.I. Soil and Crop Improvement Association is offering training for watershed groups to measure the health of riparian areas in their watershed. A riparian zone is the area between land and a waterway. These zones are important natural filters, protecting the water from excessive sedimentation and surface runoff and reducing erosion. They can improve fish and wildlife habitat and water quality for all users. By identifying areas of riparian zones that may need work, watershed groups and farmers can work together to come up with effective solutions.

Investigation of Groundwater Nitrogen Cycling in Agricultural Settings of P.E.I. ($16,000)

New analysis techniques used last year in the Wilmot River watershed gave researchers a better idea of the amount of nitrate leaching taking place in farm fields and the source of the nitrates. To confirm these results, the province is doing further experiments in 2008-09. An important element of this research is the examination of the mineralization of nitrogen in the soil. Sampling will continue until late winter (early 2009) to measure nitrate levels and their movement to groundwater.

Real Time Stream Gauging ($110,220)

Under this project, the Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry will install new monitoring equipment to give real-time information on water levels in 13 Island streams used by farmers for irrigation. Stream level information will be available to farmers on a website at any time. In the past, the only way for a farmer to know if there was enough water in the stream to irrigate was to call the Department and ask whether the stream could handle more water extraction. Information from the new monitoring system will clearly show when it is safe to irrigate and when water levels are too low. This will simplify irrigation planning for farmers. Installation of the equipment was to be completed by the fall of 2008. The website will be ready for public use for the 2009 growing season.

Willow Biomass Project ($21,500)

This project will investigate the potential for biomass production using a short-rotation willow crop on sloping, environmentally-sensitive lands on P.E.I. Willows can not only absorb excess nutrients and reduce run-off, they can also provide some additional revenue through the sale of the wood. On-going research by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and P.E.I. Soil and Crop Improvement Association will evaluate the most appropriate variety of willow to use, proper spacing and establishment techniques and nutrient uptake.

Soil and Water Conservation and Protection ($31,200)

This three-part project includes demonstration projects to provide farmers with information on soil and water conservation measures and beneficial management practices that can have a positive effect on surface and groundwater. The demonstration projects will include proper manure applications by livestock producers as part of a nutrient management plan, the use of residue of potato fields to protect the topsoil and improve the soil, and using trees and shrubs in buffer zones to protect waterways and provide wildlife habitat.

Potato Calculator Trials ($18,000)

This project will compare potato yields and nitrate leaching using traditional nitrogen applications used for growing potatoes on P.E.I. with recommendations generated by nutrient management software developed in New Zealand to measure the amount of nitrogen required for Russet Burbank potato production. The project will be carried out at the Cavendish Farms research site in New Annan. It is hoped the software will help potato producers get a more accurate picture of their crops' nitrogen needs, reducing the risk of nitrates getting into waterways.

Nutrient Management Planner Training ($4,700)

The project will provide training for nutrient management planners who would then work with farmers to develop Nutrient Management Accountability Plans. The province currently does not have enough qualified planners to meet the demand of producers wanting to participate in nutrient management planning.



For more information, contact:

Valerie Bruce
Canada-Prince Edward Island National Water Program
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
3rd Floor, Research Centre, 440 University Avenue
Charlottetown, P.E.I.
C1A 4N6

Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Media Relations
    613-759-7972
    1-866-345-7972
    or
    The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
    Meagan Murdoch
    Press Secretary
    613-759-1059
    or
    P.E.I. Department of Agriculture
    Wayne MacKinnon
    Communications
    902-368-4888