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N.S. seeks farmers for water demand study

Farmers in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley are being asked to take part in a new federal/provincial study to estimate the valley’s total demand on its aquifers.

According to a joint release Monday, the new project is meant to expand on a 2006 study that estimated how much groundwater is available in valley aquifers. The new project, a survey to estimate groundwater demand for all users in the valley, is aimed at 900 well users, including 600 farmers.

“With farm income in the Annapolis Valley totaling more than $230 million per year, the ability to meet water needs to maintain and grow these revenues will be extremely important,” federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in Monday’s release.

“The 2006 study showed an estimated half million cubic metres of groundwater per day is available to farmers and other water users,” he said. “This new survey will help farmers and other water users better manage this precious resource.”

CBCL Ltd., a Halifax-based engineering and environmental consulting firm, will conduct the survey. Questionnaires recently went out to Annapolis Valley farmers and other non-residential groundwater well owners. Participants may also complete the survey online.

Completed survey entries are due by Jan. 30. CBCL’s survey is expected to be complete by March, the province said.

The aquifers underlying the Annapolis Valley supply water to the agriculture industry, private wells, municipal water, and commercial and industrial operations, the province said. The new study will involve the provincial natural resources, environment and agriculture departments, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture (NSFA).

The Canada-Nova Scotia Water Supply Expansion Program will put up $46,200, matched by the province, to fund the new study.

“People who deal with, and depend on, the water supply every day have the information we are looking for,” NSFA president Richard Melvin said in Monday’s release. “We are working with the province to provide our farmers with important information on water resources that can help them better plan the future of their operations.”

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