Alliance News

For news from watershed groups and other external sources, click here

PEI Watershed Alliance’s comments on the redevelopment of AquaBounty’s Rollo Bay Facility

AquaBounty have proposed a redevelopment of their Rollo Bay facility to include the commercial grow-out of genetically modified salmon.  More information on the application be found here.   Through the public consultation process, the PEI Watershed Alliance expressed concern with the proposed amendment and provided comments on the proposal.  You can read the PEI Watershed Alliance’s concerns by clicking here

PEI Watershed Alliance’s comments on the Draft Water Act

As part of the public consultations on the Draft Water Act, the PEI Watershed Alliance submitted the following document through the online comment portal:

PEI Watershed Alliance’s Submission to the Draft Water Act Consultation Process

The PEI Watershed Alliance is the umbrella organization for the 23 community based nonprofit watershed groups on Prince Edward Island.  These groups, via their watershed management activities, seek and promote communication and cooperation with governments and local stakeholders (e.g., agriculture, aquaculture, forestry, and local interest groups) for environmental betterment.

The proposed Water Act is of great importance to our membership and we have been following the process since the beginning.  Many of our member groups have spent countless volunteer hours reviewing and presenting during both rounds of consultations.  We are generally pleased with the contents of the draft Water Act especially the recognition that government has a guardianship role in “ensuring the quality, quantity, allocation, conservation and protection of water” to benefit all islanders, all living things and our ecosystems.  We are also pleased with the precautionary approach that water management decisions will be made by looking at science-based processes that take into account long-term data and climate change.  We welcome the addition of clear and transparent reporting registries so that our groups and the public can accurately track water resources and have access to this vital watershed management information.

However, we feel there are some omissions within the Act and some areas which could be strengthened to better safeguard our water resources.   Listed below are our suggestions:

 Additions to the current Draft Water Act:

A) A clause added stating that “deleterious disturbance to aquifers and surrounding underground rock formations are not permitted in Prince Edward Island, even for exploratory purposes.“

Rationale: Disturbance to rock formations by injecting water, sand and/or chemicals underground to access gas deposits is known as hydrologic fracturing.  Use of this process in PEI with our sandstone geology, would put our groundwater at high risk of contamination.

B) Within the “Purpose and Goals” section, an additional recognition be added stating that “water resources are the product of complex hydrological processes which means water protection requires land-use management.”

Rationale: Water resources are dependent on complex processes and cycles which can be impacted by many factors such as land-use practices.  For example, water within aquifers is the product of recharge systems which involve larger landscape and atmospheric hydrological processes.  Given the complexity of these systems, impacts to water quantity and quality can be cumulative in nature.

C) Within the Goals and Objectives of Part I, clearly stating and listing the priorities for access to water resources.

Rationale: While the priorities are alluded to within the Act, clearly stating the priorities would clear up confusion and provide guidance for regulations.

D) At the beginning of Part II, an addition of a section that states “ the actions and decisions of the Minister and the function of Environmental Officers are to be guided by the Goals and Objectives of the Act as laid out in Part 1.“

Rationale: This would provide a clearer link between Powers of the Minister in Part II and the Goals and Objectives listed in Part I.

Areas of the Act to be strengthened:

A) Clarification regarding the definition of a contaminant 1(e) to specifically include sediment.

Rationale: The effects of excess sediment and siltation are a major problem for PEI Watershed Groups and a large ecological threat to PEI’s aquatic ecosystems.   The previous Federal Fisheries Act specifically classified sediment as a “deleterious substance” and we request that similar classification for sediment is included within the proposed Water Act.

B) Strengthening the definition of Environmental Flow Needs 1(l) to include water quality as per the Brisbane Declaration 2007.

Rationale: While volume and timing of water flow in a watercourse is ecologically important, having water of high quality is also critical for the proper functioning of an ecosystem.

C) Use of stronger language in 16 (2): A monitoring program SHALL be developed for “a) assessing the presence and extent of contaminants in water resources; b) evaluating the state of aquatic ecosystems; and c) developing a deeper understanding of the different components of groundwater and aquatic ecosystems.

Rationale: Changing this from a ‘may’ to a ‘shall’ will provide vital information on water quality and our aquatic resources.  This information is important for planning watershed management activities.

D) Use of stronger language in 24 (2): “In assessing whether or not to recommend an area for designation as a water management zone and what regulations should apply within the area, the Minister”  SHALL seek public input and input of individuals with technical expertise in relevant fields.

Rationale: Watershed Groups are invested in PEI’s water resources with much local knowledge and understanding of the ecological and societal processes within their areas.   Inclusion of their input and that of the public is vital prior to the recommendation of watershed management areas.   Involvement of Watershed Groups and the public are consistent with Goals 3 and 4 of the PEI Watershed Strategy 2015.

E) Clarification about the classification to be used for rare, endangered or uncommon species in 32 (2). We suggest using the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre (ACCDC) rankings in addition to the Federal Species at Risk Act.   We also suggest strengthening this wording “to include terrestrial species that are reliant on aquatic ecosystems.”

Rationale: The ACCDC rankings provide a comprehensive listing of the biological inventory of Atlantic Canada including PEI.  The inclusion of terrestrial species would allow for the inclusion of species such as Yellow Lady’s Slipper.

Areas to be addressed in follow- up regulation:

The strength of this proposed Act will lie in the associated regulations.  We would like to see a public consultation period opened for input on the draft regulations.   It is imperative that many of the lingering questions on how PEI’s water is to be protected and conserved will be considered in these regulations.

Specifically, we would like to see the following issues addressed in regulation:

  1. Land-use practices that contribute to poor water quality through soil erosion and sedimentation.
  2. Nitrate and pesticide contamination of surface and ground water; both prevention and dealing with current issues.
  3. Water conservation and future water resource planning on both a short term, 5-10 year scale and longer term scale, >100 years.
  4. Reducing the export of water between watersheds on PEI. That water removed from a watershed should be returned and/or discharged into the same watershed if at all possible.

Things we would NOT like added to the Act:

We are not in support of having Watershed Groups jurisdictionally responsible for enforcing regulations and policies related to the Water Act.

Rationale: Much of the great work completed by our groups can be attributed to the respect and trust established between groups, their local communities, and stakeholders.  Putting a Watershed Group in an enforcement position would weaken these links and could diminish future watershed management gains.

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this consultation process and we look forward to being an active participant in the next steps of Water Act development.  In the meantime, we will continue to support our member groups and we will extend the invitation to other stakeholders, specifically those, within the agricultural community, to work together with us on the conservation and protection of our water resources.

If you require clarification on any of these concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

2017 PEI Watershed Alliance Annual General Meeting – April 29th

The 2017 PEI Watershed Alliance Annual General Meeting is taking place on Saturday, April 29th in Hunter River at the Community Centre. Meeting will run from 9 am – 2pm. An agenda for the event can be found here

As per our by-laws , the following Directors’ terms are up this year:

  • Fred Cheverie: East Region
  • Angela Douglas: East Region
  • Jim Jenkins: Central Region
  • Mike Durant: Central Region
  • John Lane: West Region

Draft minutes from last year’s meeting can be found by clicking here.

Looking forward to seeing everyone in Hunter River!

PEI Nature Tracker in the news again!

CBC PEI recently featured PEI Nature Tracker and it’s capability to record invasive species locations.  Click here for the article.

PEI Nature Tracker is a cell phone application and website that easily records and tracks all your nature sightings. Animal, bird, plant, insect, reptile, amphibian and fish you can record them all. Common, rare, unique or invasive – we want to hear about them. Visit www.peinaturetracker.ca to log your sightings, view records and download the cell phone app. Many kudos to Kensington North Watersheds Association and Fish and Wildlife PEI for the on-going development of this application. We are grateful that Island Nature Trust and PEI Invasive Species Council are helping to showcase this important tool. We as the PEI Watershed Alliance are happy to continue our support of this important initiative.

 

Watershed Management Fund Formula

The proposed Watershed Management Fund Formula has been accepted by the majority of groups based on a vote held at the end of November.

With this new formula, money will be allocated based on geographical size of groups (50%), performance (25%), leveraging (12.5%) and community involvement (12.5%).

PEI Watershed Alliance members worked together with government officials over the last year on the development of this formula. The PEI Watershed Alliance will continue to work closely with government on the implementation and reviews of this formula.

Message from Chairperson Dale Cameron regarding the new formula:

” PEI Watershed Alliance is pleased that the Watershed Management Fund (WMF) formula is moving forward. We feel the transparency of the new WMF formula allows our groups to clearly see where they excel and where they can improve. We wish to thank the department and minister for the unbiased support throughout the formula development process. ”

 

Press release from Government can be found by clicking here.

PEI Watershed Alliance is disappointed to hear about Roseville Fish Kill

The PEI Watershed Alliance is disheartened and disappointed to learn of the fish kill on the Little Miminegash River near Roseville in Western PEI this past weekend.  This is the 2nd fish kill reported this year and the 8th fish kill since 2011.  There have also been numerous anoxic events this year which have caused mortality to fish and shellfish.

Dale Cameron, PEI Watershed Alliance Chairperson, penned a letter to the editor earlier this month describing the Alliance’s view on fish kills. This letter can be found by clicking here

Media coverage of the most recent fish kill in Roseville can be found by clinking here and here.

 

 

Watershed Group Training Summer 2016

Summer is a very busy time for PEI Watershed Alliance member groups as much watershed conservation and rehabilitation work is completed.

PEI Watershed Alliance was pleased to offer the following training opportunities to groups this summer:

1) Trout Unlimited Canada’s From to Function: Stream Rehabilitation Training, June 21-24th in Hunter River.

During this course, participants learnt from national instructors (Jack Imhof and Silvia D’Amelio) as well as local instructors Rosie MacFarlane and Daryl Guignion about the principles and applications of watershed rehabilitation approaches.  Topics included: understanding watershed and river systems, assessment and monitoring approaches, determining key issues and how to address them.

Thank you to Department of Communities, Land and Environment in the offering of this course, not only did the provide financial contribution but also many individuals provided in-kind support and technical expertise on different aspects of the course (Kevin Arsenault, Cindy Crane, Sean Ledgerwood, Kate MacQuarrie, Ross Bernard, Sherri).  Similarly, many thanks to the board of the PEI Watershed Alliance for their help and support.
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2) Watershed Worker Training, July 5th and 6th in Hunter River :
– Rosie MacFarlane gave a presentation on stream rehabilitation techniques and fish habitat:

– Norman Dewar provided information on Agricultural Biosecurity Disinfection procedures:

– Daryl Guignon toured participants on the West River to showcase watershed rehabilitation works.

– Gary Schneider provided instruction on riparian planting and tree and shrub pruning in Brookvale.

Over 40 participants took place in these workshops! Many thanks to all involved especially Norman, Rosie, Daryl and Gary.

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3) NatureTracker app and Native Species Identification

Chris Rice and Barry Murray with Kensington North Watershed Association and Garry Gregory provided instruction on the NatureTracker App and Garry also highlighted information on native species to keep a look out for.
Three workshops were held: one in Hunter River on July 5th, one in Souris on July 7th and one in O’Leary on July 11th.

 

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Fish kills on P.E.I. should not be acceptable

Letter to the Editor – Journal Pioneer

The P.E.I. Watershed Alliance is disappointed but not surprised by the fish kill found last Monday in Clyde River. This is the seventh fish kill since 2011, and the Island has experienced more than 50 such events over the past few decades.

Despite efforts by various sectors, the frequency of fish kills has not declined over this time.

This did not come as a big surprise.

While there are individual landowners who have taken large measures to prevent these occurrences, in the big picture, we are only taking small steps in the right direction.

The problem is far from solved. Until the powers that be realize this and are willing to take steps to address it, we can expect more in the future.

Fish kills are not acceptable.

Our organization recognizes that solutions to fish kills and related issues can be complex, and one-size-fits-all legislation is not the answer. It is time for a serious, multi-sector discussion about how and when action will be taken to prevent fish kills and protect watercourses for all Islanders.

The P.E.I. Watershed Alliance is a non-governmental organization that aims to improve and protect the environmental quality of Prince Edward Island watersheds, for the benefit of all Island residents.

It helps Island watershed groups achieve their goals by promoting co-operation, serving their needs and providing a strong, united voice in addressing Island-wide watershed issues.

Dale Cameron, Chairman, P.E.I. Watershed Alliance

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Climate Change Citizen Science Project

Clonal Plant Project

Interested in helping out with a project related to climate change?
We are looking for people to plant native shrubs and record observations on them every year!

Background:

This project involves the planting of genetically identical plants in different regions of PEI to monitor the climate differences with relation to growth and flowering/fruit timing. This is a long term project in conjunction with PEI Climate Lab at UPEI and the PEI Watershed Alliance with two main research questions:

1) How much does annual plant growth and flowering/ fruit timing differ across the island?
2) How much does annual plant growth and flowering/ fruit timing differ moving forward in relation to a changing climate?

Two species of native PEI plants have been chosen, Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) and Heart Leafed Willow (Salix eriocephala) and with the aid of staff at the J.F. Gaudet Nursery, genetically identical (clonal) plants are available for distribution for this project. By planting these shrubs under similar conditions across the island and then monitoring for annual growth and the development of flowers and fruit each year for a minimum of 10 years, you will be helping to understand how climate changes are impacting our island ecosystems.
Interested in helping with this project?

This is a citizen science project and we are looking for people who enjoy observing the natural world. All you need is a place to plant these shrubs and a willingness to observe them for the next 10 years. We will provide you with all the necessary training and documents.

Ideal Conditions for the shrubs:
– Planted in clusters of 2 or 3 plants
– Full sun or partially shaded areas
– Open areas with minimal tree canopy
– Fairly moist soil
– Minimal salt spray
– Moderately windy areas
– Both species of shrubs can be planted on the same site
– Easily accessible and visible area so that annual measurements and observations can be made for a minimum of 10 years

Time Commitment:

Time commitment of these plants involves measuring growth once annually and monitoring for flowering during a window period each year. You will be provided with information and training on how to measure and record growth and flowering as well emails and friendly reminders will be sent out annually.

Next Steps:

If you are interested, please let Mary Finch, at ecologist@peiwatershedalliance.org or 902-394-0999 know and she can arrange that the clonal shrubs get to you.
Dogwoods will be available at the PEI Watershed Alliance AGM on May 7th and should be planted the week of May 16 – 22nd while Willows will be available starting in June and should be planted by June 15th.

Annual General Meeting May 7th in Hunter River

The Annual General Meeting of the PEI Watershed Alliance is taking place on May 7th from 9am – 2pm in Hunter River at the Community Centre.
An agenda for the meeting can be found by clicking here.
Changes to the by-laws are being proposed.  Please click here to read the proposed changes.
These changes are meant to clarify the roles and mandate of the Alliance as well as some “house-keeping” items with regards to the location of the head office, allowing board members to serve more than one term and group jurisdiction (e.g., no two groups can claim the same watershed territory).

These changes will be discussed at the AGM and there will be a vote on whether to adopt changes to the by-laws.
Please RVSP to ecologist@peiwatershedalliance.org  by May 2nd if you plan on attending the AGM.

Funding for Upland Habitat Enhancement Projects available for PEI Watershed Groups

Representatives of the Ruffed Grouse Society (PEI) are offering a one-time funding opportunity for PEI Watershed Groups to complete habitat enhancement work focused in upland areas on PEI. Priority species are Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock although projects focusing on other upland species will be considered (i.e., songbirds). The sum of money available is not large (~$4000) and it is anticipated that the average funds granted for each project will be approximately $500.
Funding is available for equipment and supplies that are directly related to upland habitat enhancement such as tree guards, tree planting equipment, pruning equipment and trees and plants not covered through the Greening Space Program. Expenditures not covered by this funding include: administrative costs, professional services, labour, mileage, monitoring and research.

Application deadline is April 1st, 2016.

PEI Watershed Alliance is administering this fund however all funding decisions will be made by members of Ruffed Grouse Society (PEI).

Click here for details regarding this funding opportunity including word version of the sample application form.  If you have any questions, please forward them to Mary Finch at ecologist@peiwatershedalliance.org

PEI Nature Tracker App

PEI Watershed Alliance is excited to be working with the Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division of Department of Communities, Land and Environment on this project! Kudos to Kensington North Watersheds Association for their vision and hard work in moving this project forward.

We’ve had some great press on the project recently. Please click here and here for more information.  Check out the following video to learn more: Nature Tracker video 

The online template of the app can be found at: http://www.peinaturetracker.ca/

Keep tuned for upcoming news regarding this project including training seminars in spring 2016!

 

Water Act presentation by the Alliance

In September, members of the Watershed Alliance Board presented to the PEI Environmental Advisory Council about the Water Act.  A copy of this presentation is available here: http://www.peiwatershedalliance.org/Publications/water act presentation.pdf and the audio is online: https://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/MP3/watershed1.mp3.

Audio and presentations for the community consultations are available online at the Water Act website http://www.gov.pe.ca/wateract. We encourage you to check out this website and have your opinion heard. Written submissions are still being accepted until January 15th, 2016.  A draft Water Act is expected in Spring 2016 and another round of public consultations will occur at this time.

New Watershed Ecologist working for the Watershed Alliance

My name is Mary Finch and I am the new Watershed Ecologist hired to work with the PEI Watershed Alliance.   I am excited to work with all of you as I am continually amazed at the amount of good environmental work that watershed groups complete in PEI.

A little bit of background about myself, I have over 10 years experience in watershed and aquatic ecology.  I was born and raised in the Yukon, attended university in Ontario and then worked in Southern Ontario helping community groups complete stream rehabilitation work as a biologist with Trout Unlimited Canada.  Since moving to PEI in 2013, I worked with Fred Cheverie at the Souris and Area Branch of PEI Wildlife Federation.  I am very proud to be call PEI my home and happy to be raising my children here.

So what will I be doing as Watershed Ecologist? My role is to help and support you, the Watershed Groups of PEI.  My job duties include: providing technical advice on watershed projects (i.e., forest, riparian, wetlands and watercourse) including project identification, monitoring and implementation; connecting groups with resources and experts; identifying and coordinating training opportunities; supporting the Watershed Alliance; and facilitating communication among groups.

In the upcoming weeks and months, I will be traveling around the island to visit you and your groups. I am keen to meet all of you, to listen and learn first-hand about your watersheds, your successes, your challenges, and to work together in continuing to improve the island’s environment and watersheds.

Please feel free to contact me either through email: mrfinch@gov.pe.ca or by phone 902-394-0999.

Thanks!

Mary.