Why we measure this
The two largest uses of water in Saskatchewan are irrigation and municipal water. These two sectors account for almost 80 per cent of the surface water currently allocated. This remains a small fraction of the total water that may be available for allocation.
What is happening
The figure above provides a snapshot of the total volume of water allocated from surface water sources within each of the watersheds shown. This provides only a general indication of development intensity, but is not necessarily an indication of stress on our water resources. Individual projects are reviewed on a case-by-case basis against the water that is available from the proposed source. This review also considers the cumulative impacts of all uses.
About 25 per cent of municipal and communal waterworks in Saskatchewan use surface water to serve about 72 per cent of the province's residents, or approximately 774,000 people.
What we are doing
The use or diversion of water in Saskatchewan is regulated by the Water Security Agency, through The Water Security Agency Act.
A safe and secure water supply is essential to Saskatchewan's continued economic development and high standard of living. Water Security Agency is entrusted with ensuring the sustainable use of provincial water resources for both current and future generations. Requests for a water allocation for various purposes including agricultural, industrial, municipal and, in some cases, domestic use must undergo a regulatory review and are subject to licensing and conditions to ensure water resources are managed properly.
The first step in reviewing a request to use water is an assessment of water availability at the point of diversion. Water Security Agency completes this using the best available information to determine the suitability of the source to provide adequate water under a range of climatic conditions (such as drought) without negatively impacting existing water users, the watershed or future water management. Subject to a satisfactory review, and once all legislative requirements have been met, the Water Security Agency may issue a Water Rights Licence and an Approval to Construct the necessary diversion works. Upon completion of the construction and confirmation of compliance of the project and plans, the Water Security Agency would issue an Approval to Operate Works.
The Water Security Agency is also leading implementation of a number of actions from the 25-Year Saskatchewan Water Security Plan relating to water allocation systems to:
- Evaluate existing water supplies and future demands for the next 25 years and beyond to determine the need for new infrastructure across the province.
- Investigate alternative measures to increase the delivery of water from Lake Diefenbaker to Buffalo Pound Lake, including evaluation of the feasibility of the Qu'Appelle South Irrigation Project.
- Develop a modern system of water allocation, including a new allocation policy and regulations.
- Review existing water rights licences and assess current water use.
- Determine the existing use of water, level of protection of environmental ﬂows, how much water is available for future allocation, and identify areas where water scarcity may be a factor.