LUMSDEN – Today Erika Ritchie, Official Opposition Critic for Environment, and the Water Security Agency, and Official Opposition Deputy Leader Nicole Sarauer joined with Aura Lee, Chair of the Calling Lakes EcoMuseum (CLEM), to call on the Government of Saskatchewan to address the current state of water quality in the province and to implement a provincial Wetland Policy.
Saskatchewan is the only province in Canada that currently does not have a wetlands policy, despite Saskatchewan having the greatest area of watersheds with no natural outlets in Canada.
“We’re seeing the result of this government’s neglect, with algae blooms now beginning earlier in the season, lasting longer, and resulting in toxin levels above recreational advisory levels. That means families can’t go out and enjoy all that this beautiful province has to offer,” said Ritchie. “Municipalities have been asking the Sask. Party and this government for some leadership on this front, but this Minister continues to sit on his hands. There are real people, real families being affected by this.”
Reports from the University of Regina have shown increases in toxic algae blooms in recent years, at times causing water quality to dip below recreational use standards.
The Provincial Auditor conducted an audit on the Water Security Agency in 2017, and made recommendations in 2018. This year the auditor noted most of those recommendations have yet to be implemented. In February 2021, the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association passed a resolution to lobby the provincial government to join the rest of Canadian provinces in implementing a Wetland Policy.
“The Calling Lakes EcoMuseum applauds those that have the courage to speak up for the water and our environment,” said Aura Lee, Chair of CLEM. “Saskatchewan is the only province in Canada that does not have a wetland conservation policy. We believe that our elected officials must take the lead in enacting legislation to protect the environment thus ensuring a positive future for Saskatchewan.”
The Official Opposition is calling on the Sask. Party government to:
- Join the rest of Canadian provinces in developing a provincial Wetland Policy to conserve wetlands habitat and improve surface water quality;
- Work with municipalities on a plan to address stormwater run-off;
Immediately move to implement the remainder of the Provincial Auditor’s recommendations regarding the Water Security Agency:
- Developing policies around wetland retention and water quality;
- Finalizing and approving its Request for Assistance Manual, which sets how staff address and respond to request for assistance files;
- Taking enforcement action when the landowners do not resolve drainage complaints in a timely manner;
- Documenting its consideration of the large-scale water impact of proposed drainage projects;
- Actively search for unapproved drainage in high-risk regions of the province; and,
- Reporting more details on enforcement action taken to senior management.