Water Security Agency

Surface Water Approval Process

Right to Use Surface Water Relating to Construction and/or Operation of Surface Water Diversion Works

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 the construction and operation of water supply diversion works, and the right to use surface water.

Use of Surface Water Requires Approval

An Approval to Construct Works leading to a Water Right and Approval to Operate Works is required for any works where water is to be diverted or impounded from or within its natural channel or bed.  Works that will require approval would include irrigation projects, intensive livestock, multiuser, municipal or industrial water supply systems, dams and reservoirs for livestock, domestic, recreational and wildlife, or other water diversion schemes.  By policy, any use which will consume greater than 5 cubic decameters (4 acre-feet) will require an approval.

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.


No approval is required for any person who owns or occupies land which adjoins a body of surface water, providing the water is used for domestic or livestock purposes on the land, no works are constructed to impound or divert water to the land and the use is less than 5 cubic decameters (4 acre-feet).  Dugouts constructed for the purpose of domestic and livestock needs are also exempt from requiring approval.  (See Domestic Purpose Water Use webpage for more information.)

Requirements for the Acquisition of an Approval to Construct and/or Water Right and Approval Operate Works

Contact WSA to discuss your project and deal with any questions or concerns they or you might have about the project.  Staff will provide specific details on the viability and application requirements for your project.

A complete application consists of:

  • an application form (RG-103) available from any WSA office or the website;
  • a non-refundable application fee, as noted on the application form (RG-103);
  • detailed engineering plans describing the work proposed; and
  • a project report for more complex works.

Engineered plan detail will vary depending on the project but should include such information as:

  • water source name and location;
  • pumpsite/diversion location, including intake screen details and design operating level;
  • proposed diversion or pump flow rate;
  • confirmation of soil-water compatibility, in the case of an irrigation project;
  • pipeline, canal, ditch location, profile, and capacity details;
  • detailed design for dams, reservoirs, weirs, sluicegates and diversion/bypass channels;
  • road, railroad, and utility corridor crossing details;
  • property boundaries and landowners of lands affected directly and indirectly; and
  • point of use location and details of equipment supplied to convey the water.

Upon receipt, WSA will review the completed application package to:

  • determine the availability of water at the point of diversion;
  • identify any adverse watershed effects which may require special operating conditions;
  • assess and classify any proposed dam or structure for safety, hazard, or impact;
  • verify landownership and control; and
  • identify any other requirements for the proponent to complete.

The proposal may be required to be advertised by posting a notice to appear for 21 days in the local post office and Rural Municipality office, and/or by advertisement in the local newspaper for three (3) consecutive weeks.  WSA will provide the notice or advertisement documents and instructions.  Any costs associated with posting or publishing of the notice are the responsibility of the proponent.  Written objections toward the project as a result of advertising will be received by WSA 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 proponent will be required to have control of the lands on which the works are to be constructed or which may be affected by the construction or operation of the project.  For lands on which surface works are constructed or which are flooded by construction of works to create a reservoir, adequate control is deemed to be deeded ownership or right-of-way; although the proponent may lease the property from the owner.  The lease must be registered against the property title.  For lands on which subsurface works are constructed or which are not permanently affected by flooding, adequate land control can be acquired through the use of easements.

A sanction or other crossing agreement will be required for works which affect highways, municipal roads, railroads, or other utility corridors permitting the installation of the proposed works.  WSA may, on behalf of the proponent, seek any necessary approval where a municipal road and/or provincial highway is affected.

Where the supply of water to the project is provided through the works of others, the proponent will require a water supply, use of works, or operation and maintenance agreements.  WSA may facilitate the acquisition of agreements where a provincial or federal agency is involved.  For agreements with another individual, the proponent is advised to seek direction from a solicitor.

WSA will, on behalf of the proponent, request response and clearance from other affected provincial or federal agencies, where clearance is required.  Such clearances may include, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, and the Heritage Resources Branch of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport. 

Any costs associated with plan preparation, sanctions, agreements or the conditions of a clearance are the responsibility of the proponent.  Some federal and provincial programs may provide assistance for the preparation of plans and proposals.

Approval to Construct and/or Operate

When all legislative requirements have been met, WSA will issue an Approval to Construct Works and construction can then begin on the project. WSA will also register any Notices or Certificates against the land titles affected, pursuant to The Water Security Agency Act. The Notice, when registered, ties the Approval to the land. Fees will be assessed for each Notice or Certificate registered on land titles according to the Information Services Corporation’s Land Title Fees schedule.

When the project is complete, WSA may confirm that construction is in accordance with the approved plans. WSA may accept an engineer’s report attesting to the construction of the project. The proponent may be responsible to provide record drawings of the completed project.

Upon confirmation of compliance of the project and plans, WSA would issue a Water Rights Licence and an Approval to Operate Works. The Approval may be subject to a specified expiry date and conditions relating to the operation of the project.