For the first time in 35 years, the Canadian province of Saskatchewan adopted new agriculture drainage regulations. The new regulations, announced Sept. 1, represent the first phase of an agricultural water management strategy that will bring all drainage within the province into compliance during the next 10 years.

The new regulations will address flooding, water quality, and habitat loss as part of the drainage works approval process. Approval holders will be required to use best management practices. Central to the new approach is the concept of responsible agricultural water management, where drainage controls are designed, constructed, and operated properly to minimize the negative effects of drainage to an acceptable level.

The new regulations will apply first to pilot projects in the Souris Basin near Stoughton and the Assiniboine Basin near Canora. Local producers, watershed authorities, and other area stakeholders have committed to working with the Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency to implement the strategy.

Agricultural drainage policies will be refined and delivered in a series of pilot projects before being expanded to the rest of the province.