The Saskatchewan government’s Water Security Agency (WSA) will be enforcing new regulations to close unapproved drainage works that currently contribute water to the Quill Lakes.

“Our government introduced new drainage regulations last fall and the Quill Lakes is a priority area where impacts to landowners around the lake need to be addressed,” Environment Minister Herb Cox said.

“This is a very complex water management situation and, while there are no easy solutions to this issue, this is one step that will help us lower the lake level and prevent future flooding.”

All landowners with unapproved drainage works that drain into the Quill Lakes are being asked to close those works before October 1, 2016. Starting immediately, WSA will be focusing on the largest unapproved drainage works in the area which cause the greatest impact. WSA will work with landowners directly to undertake inspections to confirm unapproved works and ensure plans for closure take place.

Last fall, the new Agricultural Water Management Strategy and regulations governing agricultural drainage were announced. The new drainage regulations were created after extensive online and industry stakeholder consultations. More than 500 public participants and 15 industry and environmental groups provided input into the creation of the new approach to drainage in Saskatchewan. These changes were intended to address many issues including the impacts related to flooding.

Under the new regulations, to be considered for an approval, drainage works must have an adequate outlet. The Quill Lakes are not considered an adequate outlet because of the flooding and environmental impacts. The WSA will not grant approvals for works which contribute water to the Quill Lakes. Drainage works may be eligible for approval if impacts such as flooding can be addressed while ensuring water from any project does not flow to the Quill Lakes.

In addition, WSA will be working with Ducks Unlimited (DU) Canada to eliminate or limit flows from DU projects into Quill Lakes.

“We appreciate the challenges the Quill Lakes has created and the action the provincial government is taking to enforce these drainage regulations,” APAS President Norm Hall said. “This will help to address the flooding issue and ultimately reduce the level of the lake.”

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