Friday, August 17, 2012

Rain welcomed by (Prince Edward Island) farmers, watched by watershed groups

CBC News Posted: Aug 17, 2012 4:08 PM AT Last Updated: Aug 17, 2012 5:56 PM AT

The heavy rain last night was a welcome sight for P.E.I. potato farmers, with some parts of the Island getting as much rain in 24 hours as in all of July.

"Nice to see the moisture sticking to them," said Jason Webster, a potato farmer.

"Some of the stuff that was planted really early will probably be needing it the most. Because it's at the bulking stage, where they're trying to bulk tubers," Webster said. "Some of the stuff planted later — it will be welcome to it as well. The whole crop will definitely help."

The rain is a welcome sight for potato farmers, but for many it's a little late, as plants have wilted in the dry weather.

"The cup wasn't half full at all. It was empty; so this has got her up to half probably, but we could use even a little bit more," Webster said.

But watershed groups are keeping a close eye on the run-off.

They say there’s a large amount of silt in water that is run-off from fields.

"Even though we're all looking forward to having rain and having a good amount of rain come down, we'd rather see a long, week's worth of rain to slowly come in and sink into the ground," said Tracy Brown, executive director, Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association.

"Heavy quick showers are not really going to do it because, unfortunately, you get the bigger potential for runoff."

The concern is that a heavy runoff could lead to more fish kills on the Island.

"The problem with silt washing into the soil and everything going into the stream is that the soil carries everything with it," Brown said. "It carries the pesticides, the fertilizers, everything that was potentially put on the field has the potential to be drawn into the stream."

So far, there are no signs of further fish kills, but conservation groups will be testing waterways for nitrates and changes to the oxygen level.

August rain on track to top (Prince Edward Island) average

CBC News Posted: Aug 17, 2012 3:08 PM AT Last Updated: Aug 17, 2012 4:08 PM AT

Following a big rain Thursday, rainfall at Charlottetown Airport is on track to be above average for the first time since April.

How much water have you been using? 1970-2012Rainfall from May through July, at 134.8 mm, was less than half the normal average of 276.7 mm for the period. With Thursday's rain the total for August is up to 57 mm, putting the Charlottetown Airport station on track to top the 87.3 mm average for the month.

The lack of rain has been a big concern for farmers, and also for the City of Charlottetown and the Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association. Charlottetown gets virtually all its water from the Winter River watershed. This year two branches of the Winter River have run dry, and the watershed association is concerned that the city is pulling too much water from the system.

Since early July, the city has been asking people to conserve water.