What is a watershed?
A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place. It is a land feature that can be identified by tracing a line along the highest elevations between two areas on a map. Not only does water run into the streams and rivers from the surface of the watershed, but water also filters through the soil, and some of this water eventually drains into the same streams and rivers. A watershed starts with small, typically spring-fed, streams in the higher areas of the drainage basin. Water from these streams flows downhill and joins to form larger and larger streams, thus increasing the volume of water. The stream or river eventually makes its way to an estuary, pond or lake.
Where does our water come from?
In PEI, all the drinking water we use comes from groundwater. In urban areas like Charlottetown, Stratford, and Cornwall, our water use places a strain on the watersheds where water is being pulled from. When water is pumped from wells, it lowers the groundwater table in the area, which decreases groundwater flow discharging into the nearby streams. While not affecting access to water by local wells, this has a negative impact on stream flow and the health of our watersheds. The provincial government imposes extraction limits on our wells to protect stream and ecosystem. Over time, these limits are becoming more conservative and protective. Working together with our customers by metering and promoting water conservation and incentives, we can ensure less water is drawn out of the watersheds.