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Manitoba government introduces streamlined approach to agricultural drainage


October 21, 2019
By Potatoes in Canada

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The Manitoba government has launched a new approach to drainage under The Water Rights Act that will streamline the approval process for producers and landowners.

The new approach will also continue to protect Manitoba’s wetlands by implementing the commitment to ‘no-net-loss’ of wetland benefits, Rochelle Squires, sustainable development minister, announced in addition to the drainage announcement.

“Reducing unnecessary red tape and streamlining the approval process for lower-risk, lower impact drainage and water-retention works will help strengthen our regulatory review process by enhancing our focus on larger, more complex projects,” said Squires in a released statement.

The feedback to the news has been mixed with some Manitoba farmers saying the new measures do not go far enough to address persistent flooding issues in the province. Others, such as local drainage contractors, welcome the improvements because it will quicken the approval process and turnaround times of drainage projects.

The regulation for drainage and water control works registration and licensing will:

  • provide consistent regulatory regimes for drainage and water control works including a new streamlined registration process for applications and approvals,
  • reduce red tape and provide timely approvals for lower-risk and lower-impact projects,
  • increase focus on reviewing higher-risk and higher-impact projects,
  • ensure requirements for landowner sign-off are consistent with expected impacts,
  • harmonize provincial approvals for projects that require a licence under The Environment Act;
  • improve surface water management co-ordination and communication by providing stronger linkages with watershed management plans and municipal development plans that influence land-use decision-making; and
  • increase protection of seasonal wetlands by requiring compensation for higher-impact projects.

The province consulted with Manitobans and received comments from more than 250 individuals and stakeholder groups.

In addition to the streamlined process, the province launched a new Water Licensing Portal that will enable applicants to create an account, apply online and stay up to date with the status of their application. The portal will also allow the public to view a map of water control works and water use authorizations under The Water Rights Act.