The Saskatchewan Alliance for Water Sustainability (SAWS) is sounding the alarm that after years of drought, water levels at the Quill Lakes are once again rising and flooding farmland.
There is significant illegal drainage into the Quill Lakes and it continues to be unregulated and uncontrolled by the Water Security Agency (WSA). Despite a WSA moratorium on drainage since 2016 and promises to regulate wetland drainage, it has continued uncontrolled and unenforced. In 2018 and again in 2021 the provincial auditor pointed out to WSA that it needs to actively search for unapproved wetland drainage.
Because the Quill Lakes has no natural outlet, it is at very high risk of flooding and gains made by farmers draining wetlands upstream come at a loss to those farmers downstream at the lakes. According to reports, about 90,000 acres of farmland and pastureland have been lost with some 50 farms flooded.
This year so far, the Quill Lakes has risen almost two feet, and they continue to rise, flooding almost 15,000 acres of farmland. SAWS is very concerned that as long as wetland drainage continues unregulated and uncontrolled, that once the drought is over, the lakes could rise even higher eventually spilling their banks and sending salt water from the Quill Lakes into Last Mountain Lake. Adding salt water to Last Mountain Lake would be devastating.
Wetlands are important because they store water and prevent flooding and they fight climate change by storing carbon. Saskatchewan is the only province in Canada that does not protect wetlands.

Submitted to the Regina Leader Post, June 28, 2022 by Murray Steffenson
Steffenson is a member of the Saskatchewan Alliance for Water Sustainability.