Record Number of Saskatchewan Producers Approved for Organized and Sustainable Agricultural Water Management
Saskatchewan producers had a record 1,481 quarter sections come into compliance in 2018-19, more than doubling last year’s numbers and a tenfold increase from 2014-15. More than 90 per cent (1,363) were approvals that occurred through voluntary compliance, with only eight per cent (118) coming via closures.
“Farmers are working hard to find effective and balanced solutions that benefit producers and communities while mitigating downstream flooding and protecting our environment,” Minister Responsible for the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency Dustin Duncan said. “More and more producers are recognizing the increased value of organized and responsible drainage for their land and farming operations.”
Since launching the Agricultural Water Management Strategy in 2015, more than 440,000 acres of land have been approved, which supports sustainable agricultural production in Saskatchewan.
The Vipond Creek Network Project, east of Glenavon, was one of the major highlights in 2018-19. A joint-application was signed by 47 landowners to co-ordinate water management in the area. This single drainage approval, including more than 17,000 acres (across 113 quarter sections), was developed over the past two years.
The Water Security Agency (WSA) worked with many partners to advance the project, in response to local landowner interest arising from the nearby Dry Lake Network project approved in 2017.
“It has been great to work with the Water Security Agency to get the drainage in our area approved with a co-ordinated plan,” area farmer and Chair of the Chester Conservation and Development Area Authority Jon Elton said. “It is already going a long way to resolving a number of issues and concerns that have affected many producers in our community for a long time.”
The project includes 55 flow control structures to reduce downstream peak flows and flooding potential within the Moose Mountain Creek Watershed. Two major wetland restoration projects totalling more than 50 acres will also minimize downstream flooding, maximize water quality and optimize wildlife habitat benefits.
Additionally, drainage channels will be vegetated to reduce erosion potential. The Rural Municipality of Chester will control and upgrade a major wetland project on Vipond Creek to ensure a strong measure of flow control to prevent future washouts of a critical municipal road.
“The Rural Municipality of Chester was pleased to be part of this project,” Chester Reeve Merril Wozniak said. “We look forward to seeing its benefits come to fruition in the future.”
The Upper Souris Watershed Association served as the Qualified Person for the project, which involved working with all agricultural landowners and other partners to build support, co-ordinate, and finalize the project application for WSA approval.
“The Upper Souris Watershed Association is pleased we were able to assist producers in the Vipond Creek Network gain approval for their drainage works,” Upper Souris Watershed Association Executive Director David Pattyson said. “This project demonstrates that with support, producers can work together to manage water on their land while maintaining good stewardship of the landscape. We are grateful to the many partner agencies who helped make this project a reality.”
For more information on the Agricultural Water Management Strategy or to start a drainage project, please visit www.wsask.ca.