For over seven years we have been struggling with our neighbours, our municipality and provincial government bodies to find a solution to a problem that keeps getting worse every year. And the worst part is no one seems to care or is willing to do anything to stop it.
Since the summer of 2005, I have dealt with the effects of unlawful drainage and the large amount of drainage flooding my land. A lot of the land around our farm - marginal land full of sloughs - is being bought up and drained with heavy equipment even though this land is swampy and is only good as pasture land.
My neighbours are draining the water off their land as fast a possible with no regard for what happens to anyone downstream. They have no permits, they’re not willing to discuss the repercussions of their actions, and the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority doesn’t enforce the law.
These farmers are breaking the law by draining 28 quarter sections illegally onto me and they are not held accountable. Why is that? It’s illegal to drain water without a permit, so why isn’t the government putting a stop to it? I filed a complaint in spring 2011 with SWA, the government department responsible for protecting water resources. They tell me it could take years before anything is done and to try and work it out with my neighbours. Last fall the heavy equipment was working again doing more drainage and SWA still did nothing.
I’m losing more and more acres every year. I haven’t seeded some areas of my land in almost five years. I’m worried about all the contaminants that are carried with the run off due to drainage and flooding and how it will affect the three wells on my property. I’m worried about the health of my family. I know of wells in other RMs that can no longer be used because of this kind of contamination. I don’t want that to happen to us.
I’m dealing with the mess created by others. I’m frustrated and discouraged, but I’m also not the only one having these issues. Others are intimidated and are afraid to take a stand. Maybe it’s because when they complained, nothing changed. Maybe it’s because they plan on selling or retiring soon. Still, I have 3 children that may farm one day on this land and I’m not going anywhere. This land has been in my family for multiple generations and the problem has never been this bad. Increased drainage has only made it worse. I’m fed up. And where’s the provincial watershed authority? They should be shutting these drainage works down - they’re illegal.
All I want is for the drainage to stop; for the flooding to stop; and for these farmers to have a regard for the law that was put in place to protect the landowners in this province from dealing with the issues I have for almost a decade. I just want my farm back.
On Wednesday, April 25, 2012 a group of us (farmers) met with Kathy Sproul - NDP Agriculture Critic, Bucky Belanger - NDP Environmental Critic, Minister Dustin Duncan-Environment at the parliament. We presented our facts and maps. Ms. Sproul brought forth our issues in parliament, and CTV aired our issue on the 6:00 p.m. news. Why do we have to go to the Minister of Environment to beg for help? Someone or some people are not following the law. This matter is very serious and must be dealt with.
Peter and Barbara Onofreychuk