SK - WATER FLOODING & Illegal Ditching?!

SK - WATER FLOODING & Illegal Ditching?!

Postby Oscar » Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:29 pm

High Risk Communities To Receive Flood Mapping

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Released on August 12, 2019

Today, federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Ralph Goodale and Minister Responsible for the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency, Dustin Duncan announced $1 million in funding for community flood mapping.

The Water Security Agency (WSA) will proceed with flood mapping for 20 high-risk communities through the National Disaster Mitigation Program on a 50-50 cost share basis between the province ($500,000) and federal government ($500,000). There is no cost to the communities who have been identified as high risk.

“This partnership is a positive step toward helping communities become more resilient in the face of climate change – a priority in Saskatchewan’s Prairie Resilience climate change strategy,” Duncan said. “Flood mapping is vital for communities to manage potential flood hazards, and to implement effective mitigation measures.”

Flood mapping identifies areas that are at-risk for flooding from nearby rivers, lakes and streams, including those impacted by anticipated developments or changes in climate, making it the first step to increasing community resilience relative to flooding.

WSA identified the following communities to be at risk of suffering recurrent flood damage that would benefit from obtaining access to modern flood maps and hydraulic modelling:

The cities of Melfort, Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon, Weyburn and Yorkton;
The towns of Arborfield, Cudworth, Eastend, Foam Lake, La Ronge, Lashburn, Maple Creek, Tisdale, Wadena, Watson and Wolseley; and
The villages of Air Ronge, Borden and Gainsborough.

“The Town of Wolseley is pleased to have worked with the Water Security Agency and Public Safety Canada to obtain flood maps and hydraulic models for our town, and others in the province that face future risk of damages from flooding,” Mayor of Wolseley Gary Hill said. “We experienced significant flooding in 2011 and 2014 and know these tools will assist us with planning future development and an emergency response strategy.”

“Last year, the Water Security Agency launched a proactive flood mitigation program to advance implementation of mitigation measures, including flood mapping for high-risk communities,” Duncan said. “This funding will help the Water Security Agency accomplish their goal of having 100 per cent of communities at risk of flood damage receiving flood mapping by 2030.”

Flood mapping is one of the 25 measures of resilience in the Government of Saskatchewan’s Climate Resilience Measurement Framework. -30-

For more information, contact:

Chad Glascock
The Water Security Agency
Phone: (306) 694-8916
Cell: (306) 630-2193
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Re: SK - WATER FLOODING & Illegal Ditching?!

Postby Oscar » Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:30 pm

New drainage rules will reduce tensions

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Jeff Olson December 13, 2018

Re: Kevin Hursh’s column, “Sask. drainage rules ratchet up the tension,” (WP, Nov. 22).
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The new Water Security Act has very few changes that affect law-abiding citizens. The Agricultural Water Management Strategy presently being implemented is the key to changes in water policy in the province. The most significant change is that the Water Security Agency (WSA) will have the unauthorized and illegal ditches in the province either licensed or closed in the next 10 years. Fancy that, getting farmers to follow the laws that have existed for decades.

The act is not going to raise tensions in the long term and will most likely lower them. Tensions between neighbours illegally draining on neighbours are already high. Neighbours wanting to be good neighbours just accept the water and, unless the damage is too much to bear, don’t complain to anyone.

A perfect example is a neighbour of mine whose neighbour wanted to run a drainage ditch across his land. He said “no” as it would eliminate the wetland where he watered his cows. During the night, his “good neighbour” did the ditching anyway. Now my neighbour had to construct a dugout and has to pump water from over a mile away each year. He did not complain to authorities as he wished to be a “good neighbour” and his neighbour didn’t even get compensated for the damages, only a “sorry.” This is an example of the bullying and recklessness of some of the illegal pro-drainers in our province.

Bad drainage is draining onto neighbours’ land causing damage, damaging the environment without knowing the consequences, and all the while doing this illegally. Draining is a privilege and not a right.

Since 1981 all farm drainage needed a permit, but even then, drained land that was doing others damage could still be complained against and be required to be closed.

Another inaccurate fact expounded by Kevin is that “no maintenance of drains is allowed.” If you are talking about channel clearing natural waterways, that can still be done with a permit under conditions from WSA.

And where did Kevin ever get the idea that addressing combine ruts “is technically not allowed?” If he’s talking about disguising actual drainage by using ATV, tractor, combine or other machinery rutting, then he’s right, but the assertion that fixing machinery ruts is drainage is absurd.

It is estimated that 95 percent of the drainage in the province was done without authorization and illegally (Upper Assiniboine River Basin Report).

I do agree with Kevin on a couple of points: the Water Security Agency shouldn’t be rushing to drainage complaints based on whether a person has complained or not. The need is to stop the illegal drainage where it is doing the most harm to others or the environment. Ignoring multiple quarters draining hundreds of acres of land while investigating a private road crossing installation of a culvert six inches too high is ridiculous.

The other fact asserted — that the WSA does not have enough staff — is correct in my opinion. The drainage issue has been relatively ignored by all levels of government and all stripes of political persuasion, and maintaining the status quo of staff and resources will not address this in a timely fashion.

And where did Kevin get the idea that the accumulative effect of draining “1.6 million to 2.4 million acres of land (with) unapproved drainage works” (Provincial Auditor’s Report June 2018) would “contribute very little to downstream flow?” As well, let’s not talk about the contribution of nitrates, phosphorus, pathogens, pesticides and sedimentation that also goes downstream.

The only farmers being vilified are the illegal ones.

The silent majority believe in following the laws and being respectful to neighbours, including not only consulting them, but getting permission before draining water on to them.

Jeff Olson
executive director,
Citizens Environmental Alliance
Beaver Hills, Sask.
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Re: SK - WATER FLOODING & Illegal Ditching?!

Postby Oscar » Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:31 pm

We still don’t have responsible drainage

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Jeff Olson June 13, 2019

Re: “Sask. farmers defend well planned agricultural drainage,” (WP, May 23).
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The rural municipalities and the Smith Creek Watershed Association proclaim that they take issue with “perplexed by environmental claims that we’re damaging the land.” Although agricultural drainage removes wetlands, it’s more than that. It is the redirecting of water off landowners’ land for economic benefit while causing downstream water problems for others to have to deal with.

They already recognize that the loss of wetlands has contributed to downstream flooding, but they fail to mention the damage being done to water quality downstream. It is a proven fact that agricultural drainage is contributing to the nitrogen and phosphorus loading, eventually ending up in Lake Winnipeg, causing an environmental catastrophe, and they are not required to mitigate whatsoever for these impacts.

The article insinuates that shallow wetlands are not important as they only stay on the land for a short time and that the Class 4 and 5 wetlands there are still intact. These are both not true, as temporary and seasonal wetlands are still important for flood control, absorbing fertilizers and chemicals and recharging groundwater.

Also, contrary to what is stated, I know personally that many Class 4 and 5 wetlands have already been drained.

The latest of many drainage projects underway in east-central Saskatchewan will see the area drained increased from 5,000 acres to more than 20,000 acres, the total length of ditches will exceed 600 kilometres and the volume of water drained into Manitoba by this project increased by almost 500 percent — all without an assessment and mitigation of the impacts.

As well, many Manitoba producers don’t want Saskatchewan’s water, and that is why they’ve signed a petition against it. On a final point, they neglect to mention that the reason they needed to “save” the town of Langenburg was a result of illegal drainage and alteration of upstream natural watercourses.

We need responsible drainage but what we have still isn’t that.

Jeff Olson
Managing Director
Citizens Environmental Alliance
Theodore, Sask.
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