I was very pleased with the level of discussion and turn out at my second Town Hall on Water on October 10th. Last year, I was asked to follow up on the first Town Hall on water to see what progress has been made.
Thanks to the leadership of the City of Charlottetown and Province of PEI, the problem of untreated sewage flowing through the Charlottetown harbour is being actively addressed and will be resolved over the next three years. I have promised to continue to work to ensure that the federal infrastructure funding is there for the third and final phase.
With regard to water conservation, the City of Charlottetown, under the leadership of Ramona Doyle has been leading a number of new initiatives to educate and to encourage water conservation. We heard from the crowd that a woman with children, who voluntarily installed a water meter, ended up saving money each month from her water bill. Kathleen and I have decided to follow her lead and begin to educate ourselves more about water conservation. As we discussed at the Town Hall, even with the discovery of new water sources, we all need to learn to conserve in order to have a sustainable supply of water.
Water quality has been a concern for the last four decades. Countless reports have been produced on land use planning, as well as an excellent report on nitrates by the Honourable Armand Desroches in 2008. Yet I fail to see any significant action to ensure our water quality is protected. We heard from Todd Dupuis last year and Megan Harris on Wednesday night that pressures on our water quality continue to grow. The level of nitrates across the Island, and in the City of Charlottetown for the most part, meet health standards but there is a real likelihood that Health Canada will lower those standards. If they lower the standards, there is a real risk that our drinking water will be declared unsafe.
Water is our life source. We all need to take a leadership role to protect and conserve our water. This includes all levels of government.
I want to thank Ramona Doyle, Water Conservation Coordinator for the City of Charlottetown, Don Mazer of the Winter River Watershed Group, and Megan Harris, Watershed Coordinator for the West River Watershed for their presentations and Lynn Murray for serving as moderator.