Skip to content

Provincial water policy gaps illustrated by letters to the Legislature

Ron Walter looks at the issue of illegal drainage affecting farmers in Saskatchewan
Trading Thoughts by Ron Walter

Much of my career in newspapers has been writing about water.

We live in one of the driest parts of the globe, making the management of water resources an ongoing concern.

A container of letters tabled at the Saskatchewan Legislature with feedback on provincial water management policy shows a strong opposition to policy, both current and past.

The Water Security Agency is responsible for applying policy on water issues.

Judging by some of these letters, the agency and its predecessors have not done a satisfactory job when it comes to water management.

A number of farmers over the years have told this writer they were unhappy with responses by the Water Security Agency and its predecessors. This is particularly the case with illegal unapproved land drainage that affects neighbouring farmers.

As some said: “You complain about a drainage matter and they tell you to go to court to resolve it.”

Going to court is a costly option and causes great friction with some neighbours.      

Lack of an adequate drainage policy has robbed farmers in the Quill Lakes area of thousands of acres of land. Policy has allowed devastation of natural water storage sloughs that ended up in flooding when massive rainfall was not partly stored in these drained reservoirs.

In 2015, the Water Security Agency came up with a solution to illegal drainage. The agency oversees an agreement between landowners in a wetlands district. The landowners must co-operate on drainage.

If they remove wetlands they must provide other land for wildlife habitat.

At meetings agency employees boasted about the program and touted some examples. To date these agreements cover seven of the province’s 880 wetlands

One of the 2,251 letters tabled at the Legislature by the Alliance for Water Sustainability tells another story.

Frustrated farmer Lane Mountney from Southeast Saskatchewan shared his views.

He is involved in a 28-quarter drainage project along a creek running through his land

The only reason he is involved with the project is his quarter “is needed for the outlet end to handle that much water in the creek.

“The Saskatchewan Water Security Agency does not check beyond the outlet. They did not realize that same creek goes through our pasture, and that much water affects our well water, and the well is on high ground.

“Our well water gets contaminated during spring runoff and high moisture events and is unfit for human consumption at those times. And in 2022 the water turned yellow.

“My question to the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency is why are they not checking downstream for that large quantity of water? And why are they approving this? 

Ron Walter can be reached at  

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication. 



push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks