Dozens of farmers and the Water Security Agency (WSA) have come together under a new plan to help control agricultural drainage in southeast Saskatchewan.
The Dry Lake Project – within the Gooseberry Lake Watershed – will see a network of 73 landowners and 18,000 acres fall under a joint permit to manage drainage, the single largest agricultural drainage approval in the province’s history.
“This plan does control the water. When you let the water go and how much,” said Scott Moe, minister responsible for the WSA.
“This is about allowing the water to move but not impacting those downstream. This is about protecting the drainage projects that we have in the province and the ability to do those types of projects into the future and to move that water off our land.”
A total of 30 gated structures and 55 acres of wetlands will help control where the water goes and when it’s released.
“That’s the whole goal of these systems, is to be able to control and organize the water flow with gates and gated culverts and such which start, quite frankly, at the farm gate,” Moe said.
Under the former system, each one of the 73 landowners would have needed three separate permits.
“It’s good for agriculture, it’s good for the province, good for the environment, it’s good for downstream, other producers and waterways,” said Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart.
When asked whether this plan could help alleviate some of the pressure Manitoba faces from Saskatchewan in terms of excess water, Moe said it definitely helps when water can be held back for a number of days or weeks to allow river systems to recede before then releasing the water back into the system at the appropriate time.
The WSA is also working with hundreds of other landowners on another 12 organized drainage projects covering off more than 160,000 acres.