Wetland drainage ads spark discussion

Change starts with dialogue.

Talking about the issues that are important to our environment, our families and our future is the best, and only, way to find solutions.

Ducks Unlimited Canada’s provincial advertising campaign, Drainage Hurts, has generated much dialogue, which we hope will lead to positive changes in the way we manage Sask-atchewan’s landscape.

The ad campaign is focused on increasing awareness of the impacts of wetland drainage. It’s designed to initiate discussion among all Sask-atchewan residents about the need for policy that protects wetlands and the valuable services they provide.

There has been some sensitivity to the ads since the campaign was launched.

Water management is a complex issue, and we recognize the many people who have been affected by drainage. The campaign is not pointing a finger at anyone. We believe the issue is important enough that it requires discussion and action.

Our staff have been available and are communicating with as many people as we can.

Interestingly, Ducks Unlimited’s media campaign has received strong support from most people who have contacted us.

We have had a number of calls from those who have been personally affected by the flooding.

Producers and the general public alike have faced financial and emotional stress in recent years and want to find practical long-term solutions to the water issues in Saskatchewan.

Wetlands are extremely valuable:

  • They function as natural retention ponds.
  • They reduce the severity of both flooding and drought.
  • They filter and purify our water and replenish groundwater. Despite all these benefits, we’re losing 28 acres of wetlands each day in Saskatchewan. That’s the equivalent of approximately 14 football fields.

Draining wetlands has the inadvertent effect of sending nutrients, sediments and other pollutants downstream, along with the additional water volume. This increases the possibility for algal blooms, which contaminate our lakes and rivers.

There is abundant scientific evidence that supports the linkages between wetland drainage and flooding and nutrient export.

The most recent research, a 2014 report from John Pomeroy with the University of Saskatchewan’s Centre for Hydrology, has shown that flooding in 2011 in Smith Creek Watershed had a 32 percent peak stream flow increase because of drainage.

That flood caused significant infrastructure damage. Producers and communities were flooded. Seeded acres were lost, as were people’s homes.

Many other studies have been conducted in Canada and the United States over the last few years that have specifically examined the role of wetlands. They have also found that wetlands play a significant role in reducing flooding, even in the event of extreme precipitation.

There are many landscape and climatic factors that we can’t control, but wetland drainage is one that we can control.

Talking about wetland drainage is the first step to finding consensus on the issues and finding solutions. Ducks Unlimited will continue to work with producers, government and our other stakeholders to find common ground on this important issue.

We believe a collaborative approach is the best chance of finding appropriate solutions for the complex issue of water management. We need to develop policy that we can all support, one that will protect producers, communities, lakes, and our province’s future.

For more information, visit www.ducks.ca/drainagehurts.

Michael Champion is head of industry and government relations with Ducks Unlimited.

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