EXPLORING WATER GOVERNANCE IN NORTHERN SASKATCHEWAN: OPPORTUNITIES FOR A WATERSHED COUNCIL
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Currently the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority (SWA) leads much of the planning and management of the province's water resources with the goal to ensure access to safe drinking water sources and reliable water supplies. The SWA has developed detailed planning initiatives across the more populated southern portion of the province. Meanwhile, in the north of the province where small and predominantly Indigenous communities exist, there is a conspicuous absence of watershed planning. This condition is increasingly problematic given prolonged problems with local drinking water quality, renewed interest in northern resource development, legacy mining climate change impacts, and jurisdictional fragmentation between federal, provincial, and inter-provincial agencies. During the Keepers of the Water (IV) conference in Wollaston Lake 2010, a resolution passed stating the need for the creation of a Northern Saskatchewan Watershed Council that would include northern watershed sub-basins. The objectives of this research examine opportunities for such a council and how it might be governed and interfaced with other existing governance structures across the north of this province. Semi-structured interviews with key northern stakeholders were used as a primary method of data collection. The overall analysis is based on these semi-structured interviews and their relationship to current literary discourses on watershed governance, Indigenous water governance, watershed councils and capacity building. The central findings of this research demonstrate that the current Saskatchewan watershed governance framework is not effective in addressing northerners’ water quality and quantity and watershed governance concerns. The primary challenges to effective watershed governance for northern Saskatchewan include insufficient dialogue between northern stakeholders, inadequate Treaty representation and inconsistencies with regulations and guidelines. The participants interviewed in this study have indicated overwhelming interest in the creation of a northern Saskatchewan watershed council as a mechanism for greater northern dialogue on water related issues and concerns. This research will contribute to the understanding of northern Saskatchewan watershed governance.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
DepartmentGeography and Planning
CommitteeBrook, Ryan; Natcher, David; Walker, Ryan
Copyright DateSeptember 2012