Saskatchewan has moved forward on its agricultural water management strategy. On May 16th, Minister Responsible for the Water Security Agency, Scott Moe, announced the creation of two Agricultural Water Management Advisory Boards as Bill 44, The Water Security Agency Amendment Act, passed third reading in the legislature.
“Our government’s goal is to create responsibly-managed agricultural drainage networks focused on controlling and organizing water management in the province,” Moe said. “This will ensure mitigation of impacts to downstream landowners while continuing to provide benefits to producers. The advisory boards will provide input and advice on agricultural water management policies as we move forward with the strategy.”
The Agricultural Water Management Advisory Boards will cover two areas: policy development and technical review. The policy advisory board will provide input and advice on agricultural water management policies into the future.
The board will be made up of members from the following organizations:
- Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities;
- Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan;
- Western Canadian Wheat Growers;
- Saskatchewan Conservation and Development Association;
- Saskatchewan Farm Stewardship Association; and
- Ducks Unlimited Canada.
The technical review board will be made up of experts with backgrounds in water management, engineering, and hydrology. If a proponent believes a technical error has occurred, they can provide information to the board and ask for a review. For example, if there is a question on the adequacy of an outlet, this board would review it and provide technical advice.
In November 2016, Water Canada reported on the amendments to Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency Act, brought forward by Moe. The changes affect the province’s Agricultural Water Management Strategy, ensuring drainage projects can be permitted when they have downstream landowner permission to drain and are draining into an adequate outlet.
The Water Security Agency is currently working with hundreds of landowners across the province on organized drainage projects totaling nearly 65,000 hectares. The Water Security Agency launched the Qualified Persons training program and held a training session with 40 participants, with additional training sessions planned for the future. These Qualified Persons will help guide producers through the permitting process.
The Water Security Agency will be focusing on permitting the priority networks in the province and will expand the Agricultural Water Management Strategy across the province over time.