SARMís Recommendations Regarding the Agricultural Water Management Strategy

Year: 2019

Number: 27-19M

Department: Matters Pertaining to SARM

Midterm: Yes

WHEREAS rural municipalities and their ratepayers are significantly impacted by the Agricultural Water Management Strategy (AWMS);


WHEREAS rural municipalities and their ratepayers are affected by SARM’s recommendations to the province regarding the AWMS mitigation policy;


WHEREAS decisions made on how to conserve, manage, and utilize water may impede agricultural producers;


WHEREAS agriculture is a large contributor to Saskatchewan’s and Canada’s economy and proper water management is critical to sustaining the agricultural sector;


BE IT RESOLVED that SARM reassess their recommendations to the province regarding the AWMS mitigation policy;


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that SARM consult with all rural municipalities prior to submitting recommendations to the province regarding the AWMS;


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that SARM review their support of the notion that in highly drained landscapes, with high-value agricultural land, where wetlands are not available for retention or restoration, landowners would have the option of paying a fee in lieu of retention or restoration;


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that SARM re-examine their support of a policy which requires holders of drainage approvals to retain or restore fifty percent of the historic wetland acres within the project area;


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that SARM ensures that farmers’ rights to manage water on their land and make improvements on their land be considered when making water management decisions.

RESPONSE:

The SARM Board of Directors agrees that input from stakeholders in Saskatchewan’s Agricultural Water Management Strategy (AWMS) is key to a successful strategy. Due to the challenging nature of creating modern agricultural water management strategies and the diverse landscapes in Saskatchewan, since the initiation of the AWMS, SARM has asked the province to conduct more extensive consultation with our members. To that end, Water Security Agency met with thirty-five groups between September - November 2019 to gather more input from stakeholders and will continue to take meetings and answer questions.

SARM provided feedback on provincial policies and shared member concerns while promoting a drainage approach that would allow for some flexibility in an effort to balance the interests of municipalities and the agricultural community and considering both economic growth and land stewardship.

The Agricultural Water Management Policy Advisory Committee (AWMPAC) has reached the end of its term and the WSA has moved into a new phase of the Agricultural Water Management Strategy using demonstration projects across Saskatchewan to practically examine various aspects of the strategy. The projects will help to provide examples of how proposed policies will affect agricultural operations in the province. As the demonstration projects are completed, this will be an opportunity for stakeholders, including SARM, to assess the results and communicate feedback on aspects of the strategy including the retention of some water on the landscape. SARM will continue to seek and hear input from members to share with the WSA as the strategy is developed. SARM will also continue to recommend that the province and WSA conduct open consultation with all stakeholders.

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