When we look to the future one of things which appears likely is that water will become a more important resource, in particular water which is safe to drink.
On the Canadian Prairies we don’t always appreciate the resource, although incidents such as the one in North Battleford several years ago brought into focus how easily safe water can be threatened.
Here in Yorkton we saw the opening of the City’s new Water Treatment Plant in 2012. The facility came with a $40-million price tag, but it is money not just well-spent , but money which was an essential investment.
A city such as Yorkton cannot grow toward the future without a safe, reliable source of water for both residents and business.
But the issue of water goes beyond the quality of water which runs out of our kitchen taps.
In a region which is semi arid, and would be generally inhospitably dry if not for our extended winters, a lack of moisture is a reoccurring situation.
The history books tell the worst of it when the drought of the 1930s hit. It was a major economic disaster in a province built on a foundation of agriculture.
The stark black and white photographs of dust blowing across the landscape filling ditches like drifting snow are ones most of us will recall seeing.
While the so-called ‘Dirty Thirties’ was the worst, there have been periods of drought through the decades since. It takes only a few weeks of no rain in the summer to make the countryside bone dry, impacting agriculture crops, turning forests tinder dry and raising the threat of fire, and evaporating dugout-held water stored for livestock.
And then there is the opposite.
It was 2010 when the torrential rains hit the city July 1, leaving Yorkton under water and leaving many homes and businesses dealing with water damage.
The spring of 2011 saw the impact of high snow melt, and the mounds of snow outside our front doors right now suggest we could again face spring flooding depending on how quickly Mother Nature melts away the visage of winter.
To the City’s credit it responded to the flood of 2010, and are investing in water retention ponds and associated systems to mitigate at least some of the impact of future high water events.
But the system within city limits cannot work in isolation.
Yorkton is part of a larger system, the Assiniboine Watershed, and water management needs to be look at as a larger system.
And that was where the Prairie Flood Management and Mitigation Seminar (see related stories Page A3) held in the city last week was a major step. It brought together expertise from not just the local area, but as far afield as The Netherlands where they live with water daily. The day was about understanding water systems are diverse, and must be treated as a whole if we are to better control the effects of extreme water conditions. That understanding is important as the City looks to the future of water control in Yorkton.