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P.E.I. farm water projects funded

Projects to protect water quality for farmers on Prince Edward Island have picked up over $465,000 worth of governments’ support.

The federal government on Monday pledged $397,280 for eight approved projects under Tier Three of the Canada-P.E.I. National Water Program (CPEINWP). Tier Three projects support feasibility and environmental studies, expanded water infrastructure and increased knowledge and identification of P.E.I.’s groundwater sources.

The P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and the P.E.I. Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry is to provide another $68,500 in “in-kind” support.

“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,” said Gail Shea, the federal fisheries and oceans minister and a P.E.I. MP, making the announcement Monday in Charlottetown.

Among the projects receiving funding are:

  • “wetland interpretation,” in which a Geographic Information System (GIS) layer would be created to give farmers the data they need to comply with new buffer zone requirements around wetlands and watercourses ($95,000);
  • riparian “health assessment training” for watershed groups to measure the health of riparian areas in their watershed ($100,660);
  • investigation of groundwater nitrogen cycling in agricultural settings of P.E.I. in 2008-09, with examination of the mineralization of nitrogen in the soil, as well as sampling to continue until late winter (early 2009) to measure nitrate levels and their movement to groundwater ($16,000);
  • new monitoring equipment, to give real-time information on water levels in 13 P.E.I. streams used by farmers for irrigation, to be available at any time to farmers on a website starting this season, compared to previous methods which involved a farmer calling the province to ask if a stream could handle more water extraction ($110,200);
  • a study of the potential for biomass production using a short-rotation willow crop on sloping, environmentally-sensitive lands ($21,500);
  • a three-part project includes demonstrations to give farmers information on soil and water conservation measures and beneficial management practices that can have a positive effect on surface and groundwater ($31,200);
  • a study at New Annan’s Cavendish Farms, comparing potato yields and nitrate leaching using traditional nitrogen applications used for growing potatoes on P.E.I., against recommendations generated by nutrient management software developed in New Zealand to measure the amount of nitrogen required for Russet Burbank potato crops production ($18,000); and
  • training for nutrient management planners who would then work with farmers to develop nutrient management accountability plans ($4,700).

“We all rely on quality water for drinking, for cleaning, for recreation and for industry,” P.E.I. Agriculture Minister George Webster said Monday in the joint release. “This partnership with the federal government will allow Prince Edward Island to better understand its water resource and to better protect that resource.”

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