New rules that deal with agricultural drainage in Saskatchewan could be in place by early 2015.
Saskatchewan environment minister Ken Cheveldayoff says new regulations that deal with agricultural drainage will become a priority once Saskatchewan’s Water Security agency concludes a seven-month consultation process, which runs from Sept. 1 to March 31, 2014.
After that is complete, legislation would likely be passed and regulations implemented within a year.
“It will become a top priority right after the consultations conclude in March and … we’ll be looking for regulations and legislation after that period of time,” Cheveldayoff said.
New regulations will likely be in place by early 2015, although the province has not established any firm deadlines, he added.
In the past few years, agricultural drainage has become a topic of growing concern for many, including farmers, landowners, rural municipalities, and environmental organizations.
Heavy rainfall and above average snowpack in many parts of the province have replenished water reserves in sloughs and potholes, reduced the amount of land under cultivation and prompted unauthorized drainage in many regions.
As part of a 25 year water management plan, the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency (WSA) is developing new drainage regulations to address issues such as licensing requirements, downstream flooding, damage complaints and environmental impacts.
To kickstart the process, the agency is launching an online consultation forum to generate feedback from Saskatchewan residents.
Saskatoon based Insightrix Research has been hired to handle the online consultations, which allows individuals to share their views on drainage-related issues.
People with an interest in agricultural drainage are encouraged to participate.
Interested parties can sign up at http://agdrainage.insightrix.com or at www.wsask.ca.
Cheveldayoff said the new regulations will likely be based on best management practices and will contain information on enforcement and non-compliance.
“It will definitely be a best practices model but I guess one of the major concerns or questions that we have is how does enforcement take place?” he said
“That’s where we would like the watershed associations and RMs to weigh in. It’s very, very difficult for a provincial government to enforce these regulations — we just don’t have the manpower to do it — so we’re looking for ideas from rural municipalities and others.”