May 7, 2007

Former head of PEI Supreme Court to head nitrates task force

CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI-Armand DesRoches, former Chief Justice of the Prince Edward Island Supreme Court (Trial Division) has been appointed to chair the Premier's Task Force on Nitrates. Premier Pat Binns said the focus of the task force will be to develop a strategy to reduce nitrate concentrations in groundwater and surface water. Over the past 20 to 30 years, nitrate concentrations in some PEI streams have been steadily rising. More recently, an increase has been observed in nitrate levels in private wells in some areas of the province. Premier Binns noted that there has been extensive research on this topic, including a just-released report that studied the processes involved in the transfer of nitrate from soil to groundwater and made predictions on future trends. "Islanders have taken many positive steps to address this issue - including nutrient management planning, buffer zones, and improved wastewater treatment. But clearly, we must do more," Binns stated. He said the task force will include representation from key sectors, including health, environment, agriculture, science, and the community at large. The provincial government has assigned a secretariat to provide research and administrative support to the task force. DesRoches will begin his work by finalizing the terms of reference for the task force and, in collaboration with the Premier, selecting the task force members. The group will report directly to the Premier who has made the commitment to table the report in the Legislature. Binns said he has asked that the report be ready this fall, but is prepared to grant an extension in order to ensure that a thorough job is done.

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