Water Security Agency responds to criticism of its Agricultural Water Stewardship Policy

The spokesman for the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency says its Agricultural Water Stewardship Policy remains in development.

Patrick Boyle responded after the Saskatchewan Alliance for Water Sustainability and NDP Critic for the WSA Erika Ritchie raised concerns about the Policy on Monday.

Boyle says the Policy is “centred around water management”.

“The goals of that policy is include to increase capacity to be resilient against both flooding and drought, and to support water quality for human uses, agricultural production, industry, and healthy aquatic populations and bio-diversity,” explained Boyle.

He says the Policy is part of the Agricultural Water Management Strategy , with one of the main components being water stewardship, which will “help manage water quality along with water quantity, wetland habitat, soil health and greenhouse gases.”

One of the criticisms by SAWS was the policy lacked requirements to restore drained wetlands.

However, Boyle says it’s still under consultation, so nothing has been finalized.

“At WSA we really value the interest and perspective of all stakeholders and Indigenous communities, and that’s why in July 2022 we launched a comprehensive, ongoing engagement process, and as of May 2023 here over 70 different provincial organizations and Indigenous communities have been invited to a series of sessions and to date we had 44 organizations engage, and they provided valuable input on the key components of that policy,” said Boyle.

“We’re actively receiving feedback on the engagement materials that are publicly posted on our website right now, and any considerations or commentary can go into that and help form and create that policy as it goes forward, so it would be odd to comment against something that isn’t finalized.” he added.

Another critique was the lack of enforcement on illegal drainage projects.

Boyle says there is a Request for Assistance process they follow to ensure projects comply.

“Currently we work through what’s considered the ‘network approach’ where water just doesn’t stop in one area or one producer to the next, it is a network, and as a whole needs to be addressed,” Boyle said.

“Ideally at the end of the day we want a solution that works for everyone, where you have approvals and a system that’s well managed and done responsibly.” he continued.

When asked if any member of the Saskatchewan Alliance for Water Sustainability can engage with the Water Security Agency about the Policy, Boyle said they are more than welcome to contribute through the WSA website and the email address that’s attached.

Boyle says consultation period wraps up at the end of this year and expects the Policy to be finalized sometime in the first half of next year.

Hear the full interview with WSA spokesman Patrick Boyle below.

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