Water Security Agency – Land Control for Drainage Applications

Res #: 15-18A
Number: 15
Year: 2018
Midterm: No
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: Yes
Departments: Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment

WHEREAS the Water Security Agency requires rural municipalities to pass resolutions granting land control for drainage projects to cross a municipal road allowance;

WHEREAS the information council must consider when deciding to grant land control requires knowledge and expertise in drainage works of which members of council do not necessarily have;

WHEREAS upon granting land control, a municipality may be held liable for damage or flooding caused by the drainage works;

BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the Water Security Agency to amend the drainage application process to eliminate the requirement of the municipalities’ land control consent until the Water Security Agency has completed and approved the plan of drainage and can ensure the municipality that it will not be held liable for any damage that the drainage may cause.

View response from the Ministry of Environment

Responses From: Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure

October 6, 2022

The WSA Agricultural Water Management Strategy requires all drainage works to be approved. As part of the approval process, and as stipulated in The Water Security Agency Act [section 60(1)g], WSA requires that drainage project proponents obtain land control (consistent with common law principles) for any impacted lands. This requirement helps ensure that potential impacts to downstream landowners are managed appropriately. 

Section 4b of The Water Security Regulations specifically states that the requirement for written permission is to be filed by every “applicant” (not by a drainage approval holder). Thus, in WSA’s drainage application process, WSA requires applicants to provide written evidence of land control before a drainage approval is issued. The corporation is not able to approve a drainage project until all requirements, including land control, are met. WSA reviews drainage plans in detail and is at a position where the corporation is ready to approve a drainage application before requesting land control from a rural municipality (RM). There are also instances when RMs are engaged earlier in the process, for the purposes of maintaining open communication, although the Qualified Persons would not be asking for land control at that time. In addition, WSA staff are willing to provide information to RMs to facilitate decision-making- this includes reviewing possible impacts and how these would be addressed by drainage proponents (included as conditions on drainage approval). 

WSA is not empowered to quantify potential damages or attribute liability to a certain landowner resulting from drainage activities. Civil liability is determined by the Courts, not by WSA. In addition, at common law, civil liability for damage to private property is most often the responsibility of the person or entity whose actions result in the damages. In the instance of a drainage approval, it is most often the holders of the drainage approval who take on liability for the project. An RM may be a holder of a drainage approval (for example if they modify a culvert to facilitate drainage) or in some situations may be a landowner who provides land control. 

In any proposed drainage project, WSA is committed to providing excellent customer service and can meet with RMs to discuss best practices and how to navigate the agricultural management process more effectively. 

The Honourable Jeremy Cockrill – Minister of Highways and Infrastructure, Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure