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NEWS: Saskatchewan forms new ‘Water Security Agency’

The South Saskatchewan River and the Saskatoon city skyline.

The South Saskatchewan River and the Saskatoon city skyline.

The Saskatoon Star Phoenix reports that the provincial government of Saskatchewan has announced a new arm’s-length ‘Water Security Agency’ that “will replace the former watershed authority and unite some other water-related public services into one entity… The new entity will also take on some water-related services previously administered by other government departments, such as health and environment.”

Additionally, the government “released a 25-year plan for water management. The Saskatchewan Water Security plan is divided into seven different goals. Those are sustainable supplies, drinking water safety, protection of water resources, safe and sustainable dams, flood and drought damage reduction, adequate data, information and knowledge and effective governance and engagement…”

The Canadian Press adds, “The province says conservation is critical and could be achieved through pricing strategies. But the plan adds that new reservoirs, pipelines and canals may also be necessary to meet demand. Water demand is highest in the southern part of the province because of industrial development such as potash mines.”

And Global Regina notes, “The government also says First Nations and Metis communities will be consulted when treaty or Aboriginal rights may be adversely impacted.”

The Council of Canadians will be holding its 2013 annual conference in Saskatoon.

We have been tracking both the possible construction of a potash mine near Kronau, Saskatchewan that would require 40 million litres of water a day (to be taken from Katepwa Lake in the Qu’Appelle Valley via a 70-kilometre pipeline), as well as a possible underground nuclear waste facility in Creighton, English River First Nation or Pinehouse in northern Saskatchewan.

In May 2009, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix reported, “The river cutting through Saskatoon is at risk, says the United Nations’ senior adviser on water. The streams that feed the South Saskatchewan River are also at risk and the glaciers feeding these streams are declining rapidly, said Maude Barlow, who is also Council of Canadians chair. …Barlow’s message contrasts sharply with a common perception of Canada as a land with abundant fresh water resources. Canadians have been told for generations that water recycles itself over and over. But that’s not entirely the case any more — the careful balance has been tipped, Barlow said. Major centres dump waste water into the ocean, taking water out of the freshwater table and creating shortages. Diverting streams and groundwater has disrupted natural cycles.”