The Water Security Agency is a provincial Crown corporation that has been established to manage, administer, develop, control and protect the water, watersheds and related land resources of Saskatchewan. Included in this mandate, the Water Security Agency has the responsibility for administering the resolution of water disputes relating to drainage.
Right to File a Complaint
Any person who claims to have suffered or anticipates suffering any damage, loss or injury caused by construction, extension, alteration, or operation of any drainage works may file a written complaint with the Water Security Agency. The Water Security Agency’s investigation will focus on verifying if works are present, whether the works have an approval and whether the approval conditions are being followed. The Water Security Agency does not have powers to determine liability or award damages or other compensation with respect to a complaint.
Procedures for the filing and handling of complaints are outlined in Sections 79 to 88 of The Water Security Agency Act (the Act). With respect to dealing with drainage works constructed without approvals, Sections 59 through 70 of the Act apply. The Water Security Agency’s powers of entry and removal of illegal dams and works and the ability to lay charges are described in Sections 89 through 93 of the Act. The legislation provides a framework for a process which encourages early resolution of complaints before a formal process is initiated. If the complaint cannot be resolved in the initial phase of the investigation, a formal complaint may be filed. The following outlines the procedure for the filing and the handling of complaints.
Request for Assistance in Resolving a Complaint
- Before a complaint is accepted, an individual must make a reasonable effort to resolve the problem through recent contact with the person or party considered responsible. The Water Security Agency may waive this requirement under certain circumstances.
- If the problem is not resolved through contact with the party considered responsible, the complainant can submit a written request to the Water Security Agency for assistance in resolving the complaint. This request must include the following information:
- the name of the person or authority that the complainant considers to be responsible for the cause of the complaint;
- the complainant’s efforts to resolve the complaint through contacts described above;
- the location of drainage works the construction, extension, alteration or operation of which the complainant claims has caused or will cause injury, loss or damage;
- the injury, loss or damage suffered or anticipated.
- A “Request for Assistance in Resolving a Complaint” form is available from your nearest Water Security Agency Regional Office.
- Upon receipt of a written request, the Water Security Agency will conduct a preliminary investigation to determine if the drainage works exist and whether an approval of those works has been issued. If the drainage works do not exist, the Water Security Agency will dismiss the complaint.
- If the drainage works exist and do not have an approval, a recommendation letter will be issued. The letter will indicate that the owner must obtain an approval or close the works. The letter will indicate timelines to get into the approval process or to close works. If the owners do not apply for an approval within the timelines, the Water Security Agency will follow-up, using Sections 59 through 70 of the Act, and issue an order to close the works.
- If, in the investigation, the Water Security Agency determines that the drainage works exist with an approval, further investigation work will be done to determine if the approval conditions are being met.
- If the approval conditions are not being met, the recommendation letter will outline that the conditions of approval need to be followed and specify a timeline for compliance. Further violation will result in an order to close works (Section 69 of the Act). The letter will also indicate that the owner will need to supply verification of compliance.
- If the approval conditions are being met and there are still impacts, the Water Security Agency will determine whether alterations to the works, or to the operation of the works should resolve the impacts. Based on the above, a recommendation will be made to the project owner to complete the alterations to mitigate the impacts of the project. Alternatively, if there are no means to mitigate the impacts of the project, the recommendation will be for the owner to close the project. If the recommendation is not followed, the complainant must move to formal complaint process under section 81 to give WSA the jurisdiction to make an order.
- Any information forwarded to the Water Security Agency on a Request for Assistance in Resolving a Complaint or supporting information will be subject to disclosure under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. This means that the written information supplied in the filing process, obtained in the investigation phase and, the findings and recommendations can be disclosed to individuals who request the information under the Freedom of Information process. If supporting information contains a confidentiality provision, the Complainant must provide a letter from the author of the information acknowledging the information is being provided to the Water Security Agency and authorizing it to be made public. For instance an engineering report may have a confidentiality clause in the report.