The Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture is settling into his added responsibility of being the head of the Water Security Agency.
David Marit kept the Ag file and replaced Jeremy Cockrill as minister responsible for the WSA in last week’s Cabinet Shuffle.
Marit says he was informed the day before the official ceremony at Government House of the added job title, but it still came as a bit of a surprise.
“Obviously a welcoming surprise and I’m encouraged by it,” Marit said. “Agriculture and water…go hand-in-hand as everybody knows.”
As for the mandate, Marit says it will remain the same for the Water Security Agency. The WSA, according to its website, oversees 320.5 full-time equivalent (FTEs) positions, 72 dams, over 230 kilometres of conveyance channels, more than 80 monitoring wells, 24 primary larger river/interjurisdictional water quality stations and many project-specific water monitoring sites, 297 operational stations that collect data on stream flows and lake levels, 617 wastewater facilities, and 810 waterworks facilities.
“It’s a big agency, there’s a lot of things to do and I look forward to it,” he said. “There’s a lot of good things the Water Security Agency is doing, we’ll continue to do that and work with the folks there.”
Things on the to-do list include the Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation Project and the WSA’s Agricultural Water Stewardship Policy which is in development.
The Irrigation Project is one that some are wondering of its progress, such as the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities. Marit says it remains a work in progress.
“The biggest concern we have is how far we go, where we go, and at what cost does it come to the producers that want to irrigate as well – that is obviously one of the concerns we have – the other is we haven’t heard from the federal government if they’re going to be a partner in this thing at all,” Marit said. “We would sure like them to be a partner in this project, it’s a big project, it’s good for the province and it’s good for Canada.”
He hopes that can be resolved in a short period of time. As for the Water Stewardship Policy, Marit hopes to meet with WSA staff sometime early next week to get an update.