Ground Water Approval Process
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 approval process for construction and operation of wells and other ground water works and the right to use ground water. This authority is granted by The Water Security Agency Act and the Ground Water Regulations administered under that Act.
Use of Ground Water Requires an Approval
Under the Act any use of ground water, with the exception of domestic uses as defined below, requires a Water Rights Licence. In addition, a Permit to Conduct Ground Water Investigation and Approvals to Construct and Operate are required for any works where ground water is to be used. Projects that require a Water Rights Licence and Approval to Construct and Operate Works include irrigation projects, intensive livestock operations, multiuse, municipal or industrial water supply systems and significant ground water de-watering projects. The intent of the Water Security Agency’s approval process is to ensure the sustainable and environmentally sound development of the province’s ground water resources.
Any person who owns or occupies land may use up to 5,000 cubic metres (4 acre-feet) of ground water per year, for domestic purposes on the land, without obtaining a Water Rights Licence or Approvals to Construct and Operate Works. (See Fact Sheet FS-315 for more information on domestic water use.)
DO NOT BEGIN THE CONSTRUCTION OF A GROUND WATER DEVELOPMENT PROJECT BEFORE RECEIVING A PERMIT TO CONDUCT GROUND WATER INVESTIGATION OR APPROVAL TO CONSTRUCT.
The viability of your project is important to you and to the Water Security Agency. By planning well in advance for the approval and construction of your project, you will have assurance that a supply of water is available and allocated for your project.
It is recommended that you contact the Water Security Agency to discuss your project and any questions or concerns you might have. Staff can provide specific details on the viability of your project and any project specific application requirements.
The Water Security Agency’s regulatory approval process for development of a ground water source project has two parts. The proponent of a proposed ground water development is required to obtain a Permit to Conduct Ground Water Investigation and a subsequent Water Rights Licence and Approvals to Construct and Operate Works.
Permit to Conduct Ground Water Investigation
The purpose of a ground water investigation is to ensure that the ground water source can sustain the proposed development, without any adverse impacts on the source or existing ground water users. The Permit allows for the test drilling, well installation and pumping tests necessary to evaluate a ground water source. If a well is retained for operation, the information collected during the investigation serves to support the subsequent application for Water Rights Licence and Approval to Construct and Operate Works. The following outlines the requirements and procedures of the Ground Water Investigation Permit process.
An application consists of:
- A completed Application for Permit to Conduct Ground Water Investigation (RG-122) form, identifying the land location of the proposed investigation, the intended use of the water, the estimated annual quantity required, the estimated pumping rate and target aquifer (if known); and
- A non-refundable application fee as listed on the Application for Permit (RG-122).
The Water Security Agency will review the application, and if no potential conflicts are apparent, a Permit to Conduct Ground Water Investigation will be issued. Included with the permit will be any relevant hydrogeological information we have on file, together with general guidelines covering the detail and type of information which should be collected during the investigation.
If a significant volume of water is required the Water Security Agency may require that a qualified hydrogeologist supervise/conduct the investigation.
At the conclusion of the ground water investigation, regardless of the success of the investigation in identifying/developing a suitable ground water source, the proponent (or their consultant) is required to submit two copies (one hard copy and one electronic copy/CD) of a Ground Water Investigation Report to the Water Security Agency within 60 days. The Ground Water Investigation Report should contain the following information:
- A map or plan showing the extent and location of the project including ancillary works (pumping wells, observation wells, pipelines, test holes, all surveyed from legal boundaries), and surrounding well users in the same aquifer.
- A field verified inventory of all wells within a 3.2 km radius of the project, the inventory should include:
-type of well and depth; and
-depth to the non-pumping water level.
If any draw down of the aquifer is expected to exceed the 3.2 km radius, the inventory shall be expanded to cover the expected area of influence.
- At least two geological cross-sections defining the target aquifer. All test drilling and evaluation should be supervised by a qualified hydrogeologist.
- Copies of any surface lease, easement or purchase agreements for the access or use of the land affected by the project; the easements should also include any pipeline routes.
- At least two permanent observation wells (piezometer) completed and sealed in the target aquifer.
- An estimate of the maximum pumping rate and annual quantity required.
- Construction dates of works if in place already.
- Original borehole geophysical logs and descriptive logs of all test holes.
- Copies of well and observation well completion records.
- A minimum 24-hour constant rate pumping test showing:
-casing elevation of pumping well and observation wells;
-depth to static water level in pumping and observation wells;
-draw downs in pumping and observation wells;
-time and pumping rate; and
-recovery measurements in pumping and observation wells after pumping has stopped; the recovery period shall be of the same duration as the pump test or until the aquifer has recovered to pre-pumping level.
- An evaluation of the pump test and recovery data with estimates of the well yield, aquifer yield and basin yield stating the method of analysis and assumptions used.
- A water chemistry analysis, detailing the major ions; for municipal projects an analysis for metals is also recommended.
- An evaluation of the effects of the project on surrounding users
- The report should identify any potential adverse impacts to the aquifer and existing users and present any required measures for the mitigation of those impacts.
- When ground water models (computer) are used for aquifer evaluation, the following information shall be supplied:
-the name and type of model used;
-the input data;
-the boundary conditions;
-a sensitivity analysis;
-all assumptions made;
-the results; and
-a discussion of the validity of the results.
Water Rights Licence and Approval to Construct and Operate Works
If the ground water investigation was successful, prior to proceeding with the development of the project, the proponent is required to file an Application for Water Rights Licence and Approval to Construct and Operate Works under The Water Security Agency Act.
A complete application consists of:
- An application form (RG-103) including relevant contact information for the applicant, the proposed source of water, the annual amount required and its intended use.
- Non-refundable application licensing and registration fees as specified in the instruction sheet. (When your project proceeds, this fee will be subtracted from the Application for Water Rights License and Approval to Construct and Operate Works, RG-103);
- Proof of land control; and
- Detailed plans including a description of the work proposed.
Depending on the complexity of the project the Water Security Agency may require that plans and detailed technical reports be prepared by a qualified engineer or other relevant professional working on behalf of the proponent.
The Ground Water Investigation Report will provide much of the information to support the application; however, some additional information on works not identified in the report may be required and could include:
- confirmation of soil-water compatibility (Certificate from Ministry of Agriculture), in the case of an irrigation project;
- the alignment and capacity of any proposed pipelines including the location of any road, railroad, and utility corridor crossings;
- property boundaries and identification of affected land and landowners; and
- identification of the specific point of use and any work required for conveyance to that point.
Upon receipt of the complete application, the Water Security Agency will:
- review the application and conduct a technical evaluation of the Investigation Report to ensure it is complete and adheres to accepted scientific practice;
- determine the availability and sustainability of water at the point of diversion;
- identify any adverse impacts to existing water users which may require mitigation;
- verify land ownership and control; and
- identify any other requirements for the proponent to complete.
If it is determined that conflict with other water users or impacts to the water source could result, the proponent may be required to advertise the project by posting a notice in appropriate local municipal offices, and/or by advertisement in the local newspapers. As a result of advertising, written objections to the project will be received by the Water Security Agency for a period of 30 days from the posting date or first publication date. Any objections received will be discussed with, and may require mitigation by the proponent. The Water Security Agency will advise the proponent where this requirement applies and will provide any necessary instruction as well as copies of the notice or advertisement documents.
The proponent will be required to have control of all lands on which the works are to be constructed or which may be affected by the construction and/or operation of the works. For lands on which surface works are constructed, adequate land control can be deeded ownership or a right-of-way (lease) agreement. For lands on which subsurface works are constructed, or which are not permanently affected, adequate land control can be acquired through the use of a right-of-way (easement) agreement. Right-of-way agreements must be registered against the property title.
A sanction or other crossing agreement permitting the installation of the proposed works will be required for works affecting highways, municipal roads, railroads, or other utility corridors.
Where the supply of water to the project is provided through works owned by a third party, the proponent will require a water supply, use of works, or operation and maintenance agreements with the third party.
Any costs associated with plan preparation, the posting or publishing of notices, securing sanctions or agreements or compliance with conditions of a clearance are the responsibility of the proponent.
Issuance of a Water Rights Licence and Approval to Construct and Operate Works
When all legislative requirements have been met, the Water Security Agency may issue an Approval to Construct any work not completed under the Ground Water Investigation Permit and a Water Rights Licence. Upon satisfactory completion of construction, the Water Security Agency may also issue an Approval to Operate Works. The Approval to Operate Works may require confirmation of construction through an inspection of the works or a review of an engineering report on the works provided by the proponent. The proponent is responsible to provide record (as-built) drawings of the completed project.
Pursuant to The Water Security Agency Act, the Water Security Agency will register a Notice or Certificate against the title of all lands affected by the proposed works. The Notice/Certificate, when registered, ties the Approval to the specific land titles. A fee of $54.00 per title is assessed for each Notice or Certificate registered on land titles as outlined in the application form and instructions.
Please be aware that Water Rights Licences and Approvals to Construct and Operate Works are subject to specified expiry dates, and terms and conditions relating to the operation of the project and any relevant monitoring and reporting requirements.
Ground Water Data
The Water Security Agency maintains a data base of reported wells and test holes throughout the province which is available on-line through an interactive mapping application at https://gis.wsask.ca/.
Registered Water Well Drilling Machine
Legislation requires that all water well drilling machines operating in the province must be registered annually with the Water Security Agency. A listing of all the companies with registered drilling machines is available here. The listing contains the company name, address, phone number and the type of drilling rig.
Applications and Information
The application for a permit to conduct a ground water investigation (RG-122), the instructions and application form (RG-103) for a Water Rights Licence and Approval to Construct and Operate Works are available on Permits and Approvals, or from the nearest Water Security Agency office. Any inquiries related to the use or availability of ground water and all applications for ground water projects should be submitted to the Water Security Agency head office in Moose Jaw.
Water Security Agency – Head Office
400 – 111 Fairford Street East
MOOSE JAW SK S6H 7X9
For general information about the Water Security Agency or our programs, please contact any of our office locations.