According to CBC, ten rivers in P.E.I have increasing nitrate levels, and three of them; the Wilmot, Dunk and Clyde, are more serious. Nitrate levels in these rivers were “over the Canadian Water Quality Guideline for Aquatic Life.” (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/)
Environment Minister Steven Myers thinks the reason is the recent droughts.
“While that’s an easy excuse I think we know that we need to tackle nitrates at a higher level and we need to find a way to reduce nitrates. That’s exactly what we’re going to try to do.”Steven Myers, in a statement on CBC News
Provincial Actions against Nitrates
The minister promises that the provincial government will take action. A research project cooperating with inland farmers, environmental groups and Dalhousie University has shown success by planting weeping willows. These plants serve as buffers on farm land to stop nitrates as the provincial report points out that most nitrates came from agricultural fertilizer.
Apart from planting willows, P.E.I government is also expecting biochar as a solution. “An engineered charcoal made from non-wood organic substances such as compost”, biochar can “reduce nitrate leaching by improving moisture retention.” (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/)
The third reason that caused the increasing of nitrate levels is over-irrigation. The provincial government had suspended new high-capacity irrigation wells nineteen years ago. Recently, P.E.I governments have reviewed the irrigation strategy and decided to allow farmers to use water sustainably. Minister Myers confidently believes that plants, biochar as well as precision agriculture might help to improve the environment.
P.E.I Greens worries
However, Bell questions the initiatives above by referring to a report from the P.E.I Department of Environment. The report indicates that recent droughts are not the exact reason for the rise of nitrates levels. Hannah Bell further points out that the minister should be cautious on the data the report collected because it is insufficient.
Bell thinks that the current solutions will improve the environment somehow but change things not one bit. The key factor among the solutions is to reduce the amount of fertilizer that will reach streams in the island.
As for the farmers, Hannah Bell believes that the Department of Agriculture and Land should help them reducing nitrated fertilizers and adjusting crop rotations. (https://www.greenparty.pe.ca/)