PEI Holding Pond Survey Summary

Over the past few years there has been an increase in the construction of irrigation ponds throughout PEI.  This is a result of the need for increased agricultural irrigation in dry summer months and the moratorium on new high capacity wells for agricultural irrigation – pumping rate higher than 345 m3/day or 50 igpm.  Usually, agricultural irrigation equipment requires water flow around 200 igpm or higher. To achieve enough water flow, one or more low capacity wells from surrounding properties are joined together to fill the pond, or a cluster of low capacity wells are connected to one irrigation system.  This allows the irrigators to pump at a higher rate out of the pond providing a water source similar to a high capacity well.  There has been increasing public complaints and concerns voiced about the potential for on environmental impacts by these low capacity wells  relating to  depletion of stream flow and groundwater, drying up of domestic wells, etc. and allowing irrigators to irrigate large areas of land similar to that from a high capacity well.

It’s Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action’s responsibility to monitor and collect information of these low capacity wells and ponds to ensure our water resources are viable and environmental impacts are acceptable.  Surveying these low capacity wells and ponds is the first step.

There are 148 low capacity wells and 41 holding ponds that have been developed as of May 2021.  About 98 wells feed 41 holding ponds and 50 wells are clustered to directly feed 14 irrigation systems.  The majority of the holding ponds were located in the Bedeque/Kensington/Malpeque area.

There is a wide range in size of holding ponds, with the largest inspected being 14,000 m2 and the smallest being 1,500 m2.  The typical pond size is around 5,000 m2 with a storage capacity of 11,350 m3. The pond depths were between 3 and 6 meters, but berm height was highly variable between ponds being anywhere from 1 to 7 meters in height depending on the topography.  The majority of holding ponds have a clay bottom or plastic liner to reduce leakage. Typically, 5 horsepower pumps are installed in the wells and 40-60 horsepower pumps are used for pumping water out of the ponds.  Few ponds are more than 5 years old and these older ponds tend to be smaller.  A number of ponds are located next to first order streams and/or wetlands.

Agricultural Irrigation Holding Pond and Well Summary

  Total Built (number)
Holding ponds 41
Holding pond owners 20

Agricultural Irrigation Well Sources

Irrigation Water Sources Number

High Capacity Wells

 - Wells serving holding ponds

36

7

Low Capacity Wells

- Wells serving holding ponds

- Wells serving clusters (no holding pond)

-- Clusters without holding ponds

148

98

50

14

Surface water extraction permits 25

For further information or questions, contact:

Qing Li
Phone: 902-368-4668
Email: qli@gov.pe.ca