A New Approach to Agricultural Water Management (Phase I):
To fulfill commitments in the 25 Year Saskatchewan Water Security Plan, the Water Security Agency (WSA) is moving ahead with a new approach to drainage management. The new approach will move Saskatchewan toward responsible agricultural water management by streamlining the regulatory system, effectively addressing the risks associated with drainage in the approval process, and enabling development of sustainable drainage projects with more long-term certainty.
Why is a new approach needed?
Drainage has been an integral part of the settlement of our province, making land available for the establishment of communities, road development, crop production and resource extraction. However, poorly designed projects and uncoordinated activities have the potential to cause negative impacts, including:
- local to large-scale downstream flooding and infrastructure damage;
- degraded water quality from erosion and increased contaminants; and
- negative impacts on wetlands and beds and shores of other water bodies and watercourses.
Many of these problems can be avoided with carefully planned drainage and appropriate steps to reduce impacts. Consultation with the public, stakeholders, and agricultural producers has informed a new approach to drainage management in Saskatchewan that is intended to achieve the benefits of drainage while managing the risks.
What is the new approach?
Central to the new approach is the concept of responsible agricultural water management, where the drainage proponent takes responsibility to design, construct and operate the project properly and undertake necessary actions to minimize the negative impacts of drainage to an acceptable level. Responsible agricultural water management minimizes conflict and enables appropriate drainage to continue. A second key aspect of the system is the concept of an efficient, risk-based regulatory system.
What does the new approach aim to achieve?
The main goals of the new approach are to achieve:
- An appropriate balance between achieving the benefits of drainage and reducing the potential for flooding, and negative impacts on water quality and habitat.
- An effective and practical regulatory system to facilitate responsible drainage.
- Implementation of practical solutions to deal with excess water on agricultural lands.