PEI Water Act: Let's Get it Right

Inside the Water Act: Consultation Draft PEI
Department of Communities, Land and Environment

The proposed PEI Water Act has been a long time coming for citizens on Prince Edward Island. A province that draws all of its water supply from ground water sources and supports a significant agricultural industry needs to be fully aware of the state of their water and the potential impacts today’s choices will have on future Islanders. The government has followed a robust public engagement plan to develop the draft Act, culminating in the release of a full draft version of Act, with supporting information pieces. Citizens on PEI have stepped up to offer their time and expertise to review and comment on the draft. Unfortunately, after providing an excellent consultation process the PEI government is now rushing the final phase of consultation with less than a month for comments and only four in-person sessions.

 ECELAW has been adding our support and expertise to the process though the PEI Environmental Rights Working Group and the Coalition for Protection of PEI Water. Our experience with law reform, drafting environmental laws and public engagement runs deep. The proposed Water Act has great potential with the seeds of a solid purpose section, hints at a right to clean water, and opportunities for watershed planning. However, as a legislative drafter I see a multitude of improvements that could be made to create a law that is more coherent, continues to engage the public and ensures that the Minister has the authority necessary to carry out the goals of the Act.

ECELAW urges the government of PEI to take advantage of the expertise that exists within its citizenry and the non-profit organizations that support them. We recommend that the government host a round table session of participants with relevant knowledge and expertise to complete a clause by clause review of the draft Act as part of the public consultation process. The volunteer sector and the contribution they make to society is vastly underrated and undervalued, just like the environment.

PEI Government Page on the Water Act: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/communities-land-and-environment/water-act

Inside the Water Act (Consultation Draft): https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/sites/default/files/publications/inside_the_water_act.pdf