Sask. wetland policies need to be strengthened: researcher

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November 14, 2014 - 6:30am Updated: November 14, 2014 - 11:21am
Highway 8 north of Redvers. Photo by CJME's Andrew Shepherd.
Highway 8 north of Redvers. Photo by CJME's Andrew Shepherd.

At least one water expert is pleased with the changing tide of attitudes toward wetlands and drainage systems he’s seeing in Saskatchewan.

“There’s a tremendous consensus amongst farmers and others that something needs to be done in terms of our wetland policies and to strengthen them,” said John Pomeroy, director of the Centre of Hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan.

Pomeroy is referring to a report released by the Water Security Agency Thursday that summed up seven months of consultation with farmers, conservationists, and rural politicians.

That consultation revealed an overwhelming majority of people support changes in drainage regulations.

“I think there was a concern before about whether this would make rural life unmanageable, make it so difficult to farm, and to administer, and to meet the regulations and enforce it that it could possibly be unworkable. And I think the study shows, no, there’s much more agreement than most people thought - including myself,” said Pomeroy. 

Pomeroy says the recent flooding has helped shift peoples’ attitudes.

“I think it brought home that we have a problem,” he said. “I mean, this wouldn’t be as much of an issue if we had been through two decades of drought.”

There isn’t consensus on everything, however. There are strong opposing views on how exactly wetlands should be addressed in future regulations.

Many agreed there should be forced compliance in places that have complex or significant drainage issues, but the WSA noted it could face some major opposition if it instituted it.

The WSA is working to deliver a  25-year plan to address water security in the province.

Correction: A previous version of this story said the WSA is in the midst of coming up with a 25-year plan to address water security in the province. The plan has been created and the WSA is in the midst of delivering it.

JSlater@rawlco.com
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