A safe and secure water supply is essential to Saskatchewan’s continued economic development and high standard of living. The Water Security Agency is entrusted with ensuring the sustainable use of provincial water resources for both current and future generations. Requests for a water allocation for various purposes including agricultural, industrial, municipal and, in some cases, domestic use must undergo a regulatory review and are subject to licensing and conditions to ensure water resources are managed properly.
An Approval to Construct Works and an Approval to Operate Works are also required for any works where surface water is to be withdrawn, diverted, or impounded from or within its natural channel or bed. No approval is required for any person who owns or occupies land which adjoins a body of surface water, provided the water is used for domestic or livestock purposes on the land and the annual use is less than five cubic decameters (four acre-feet). Similarly, all ground water works, except for domestic wells, will require similar approvals.
The first step in reviewing a request to use water is an assessment of water availability at the point of diversion. For surface water projects this is undertaken by Water Security Agency using the best of available information to determine the suitability of the source to provide adequate water under a range of climatic conditions (e.g., drought) without negatively impacting existing water users, the watershed, or future water management. For groundwater projects the review takes place in two parts with the preliminary assessment of the supply being carried out by a qualified hydrogeologist working on behalf of the proponent. The proponent’s findings are then verified and evaluated by Water Security Agency to confirm the suitability of the source.
While the specific processes for reviewing surface water and ground water projects differ due to the nature of the water source, the intent of the review remains the same, specifically to:
- Determine whether the identified source has the capacity to provide the amount of water requested under a range of climatic conditions;
- Determine if diversion of the requested amount of water will result in negative impacts to existing water users, the watershed, or future water management. And, where necessary, apply mitigation measures or operating conditions to manage or prevent such impacts;
- Assess and classify any proposed infrastructure (e.g., dams, diversions, pipelines) for safety, hazards, or impacts. And, where necessary, apply mitigation measures or operating conditions to manage or prevent such impacts;
- Verify ownership and/or control of any lands potentially affected, directly or indirectly, by the construction or operation of the project (e.g., land flooded by a dam or traversed by a pipeline);
- Where necessary, to advise interested parties and stakeholders of the proposed project and to identify and address relevant public concerns.
Subject to a satisfactory review, and once all legislative requirements have been met, the Water Security Agency may issue a Water Rights Licence and an Approval to Construct the necessary diversion works and upon completion of the construction and confirmation of compliance of the project and plans, the Water Security Agency would issue an Approval to Operate Works.