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RCE Saskatchewan Empowering for Conservation: Water Drainage and Wetlands Protection on the Canadian Prairies & Updates


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RCE Saskatchewan Empowering for Conservation: Water Drainage and Wetlands Protection on the Canadian Prairies & Updates
RCE Saskatchewan
Americas Regional RCE Meeting 2018
24-27 October, 2018, Posadas, Argentina

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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RCE Saskatchewan Empowering for Conservation: Water Drainage and Wetlands Protection on the Canadian Prairies & Updates

  1. 1. RCE Saskatchewan empowering for conservation: Water drainage and wetlands protection on the Canadian prairies & updates Dr. Roger Petry (presenting), Sherry Forsyth and Aura Lee MacPherson (contributors) 7th RCE Conference of the Americas Posadas, Argentina 16:15, October 25, 2018
  2. 2. RCE Saskatchewan Region
  3. 3. RCE Saskatchewan Thematic Issue Areas:  Building Sustainable Communities  Climate Change  Health and Healthy Lifestyles  Farming and Local Food Production, Consumption, and Waste Minimization  K-12 ESD  Reconnecting to Natural Prairie Ecosystems  Adapting Cultures for Sustainability  Sustainable Infrastructure including Water and Energy  Youth 9/12/17
  4. 4. RCE Saskatchewan Overview: Storytelling for SD  Yancoal Potash Mine: Update from 2017  Proposed Quill Lakes Water Diversion: RCE Saskatchewan Response Since Oct. 2017  International Association of Universities (IAU): cluster on Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12)
  5. 5. YANCOAL SOUTHEY POTASH MINE PROPOSAL  YanCoal: Chinese parent company with past expertise in coal mining  Proposal to build a solution potash mine in Havelock, SK  Extract 2.8 million tonnes of potash/year for 100 years  Yancoal Environmental Impact Study (EIS), 003EISMainDocument, p. E-6)
  6. 6. RCE SK Working with Local Communities: Yancoal Potash Mine Proposal Local Residents GovernmentPotash Company Rural Municipality Sustainable Community Formal RCE SK Submissions Video
  7. 7. HAVELOCK RESIDENTS’ KEY CONCERNS 1. Impact on drinking water sources 2. Salt spray contamination 3. Increased Traffic 4. Noise 5. Companies lack of experience in potash 6. Companies problematic environmental record and employee practices 7. Lack of participatory engagement/social license 8. Lack of adequate study and planning on impacts and development of contingency plans
  8. 8. Recent Developments  June, 2017 - New Yancoal Chairman invited to a meeting hosted by Havelock Special Projects Committee (HSPC) announcing a “restart” with its community engagement  Havelock community excited their story documented in new UNU publication: Chapter 1 “Community Knowledge Mobilisation for Sustainable Development in Saskatchewan”, in Academia and Communities: Engaging for Change (UNU-IAS, 2018) ents  Local community power (mayor and council) and local elections  HSPC reports “Nothing going on” between company and community (Sept. 2018)
  9. 9. 10th RCE ESD Recognition Event (May 2, 2018) Held in Stockholm, SK, includes Tour of Saskatchewan Potash Interpretive Centre
  10. 10. Possible Ripple Effects…  Increased engagement of media with academic expertise: Dr. Peter Leavitt, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change and Society “State of the Lakes” presentation at Treaty 4 profiled in local media extraction-examined/  Environmental Regulator Role Diminishing (?): Government rules new Gensource Potash Corp. not needing Environmental Impact Study (EIS; Aug. 8, 2018) though smaller mine and innovative methods 015%20Gensource%20Vanguard%20One%20Potash%20Project_Approval%20Package.doc x.pdf  CBC (and Gensource) notes unusual for no EIS 1.4791090
  11. 11. Ripple Effects: Calling Lakes Ecomuseum and RCE Notification of Quill Lakes Drainage Proposal
  12. 12. Real Ecological Limits: Quill Lakes and Potential Overflow Quill Lakes (635 sq. km): a saline lake; + 7 m water level over 13 years (QLWA); currently 60 cm below overflow at 521.47m (down 40 cm from last year; WSA)
  13. 13. Causes Attributed to Growth in Lakes • Extreme rainfall events (starting in 2005) • Higher humidity levels reducing evaporation • Upstream drainage and loss of wetlands • No natural outlet (a closed basin)
  14. 14. Proposed Solution: Common Ground Drainage Diversion Project • Proposal put forward by Quill Lakes Watershed Association (QLWA), a Conservation and Development (C&D) authority • Proposal to construct a 25 km drainage diversion channel redirecting surface water from Kutawagan Lake and Pel Lake towards Last Mountain Lake • Estimated diversion of 7,000,000 m3 of surface water/year • Goal to lower Quill Lakes by lowering Kutawagan and Pel Lakes by 0.6 metres • See Ministry of Environment EASB File # 2017-014 (Sept. 8, 2017)
  15. 15. Ministry of Environment Indicates there will be No Environmental Assessment (Sept. 8, 2017) Ministry determined “the project does not meet the criteria of section 2(d) of The Environmental Assessment Act (the Act) and, therefore, is not a “development” that is required to undergo an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)” Implications of lack of EIA: • Diversion proposal not needing to be made public • No space for public input (including scholarly input) nor consultation with First Nations/Indigenous Peoples • No requirement to justify project as most appropriate solution (opportunity costs)
  16. 16. Legal Limits: RCE notes Errors in Ministry’s Determination under the Saskatchewan Environmental Assessment Act • failed to acknowledge all surface water as a provincial resource under the provincial Water Security Agency Act (Sec. 38(1)) and potential for degradation of large volumes of freshwater • failed to acknowledge documented widespread public concern downstream (including specific letter from Calling Lakes Ecomuseum from June 15, 2017, to Minister stating Need for Inclusive and Accountable Institution Building) • failed to acknowledge potentially significant adverse impacts on the environment
  17. 17. Sustainability Questions Related to Project • What environmental and livelihood impacts would there be moving water between watersheds (Quill Lakes Basin and Qu’Appelle River Watershed) with diminished water quality?  What impacts would there be on the Last Mountain Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary (oldest in N. America) and National Wildlife Area at the North end of Last Mountain Lake?  How would the movement of water affect resilience to predicted droughts under climate change (e.g. summer of 2017)?  What impact might there be on Treaty Rights of First Nations communities downstream?
  18. 18. Key RCE Concern: Diversion Project Insufficient to Meet Quill Lakes Goal • Common Ground Drainage Diversion Project diversion of 7,000,000 m3 of surface water insufficient to goal of substantively lowering Quill Lakes • Only reduces Quill Lakes by a mere 0.52cm/year (using data from KGS 2016 study)
  19. 19. Value of Closing Illegal Drainage in Qu’Appelle Basin • 38% of the Quill Lakes' current average inflow is due to illegal drainage (KGS. 2016. p. 77, Table 11) • Clear substantive reduction in Quill Lakes if close illegal drainage • Acknowledged by Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment’s media release of July 14, 2016 committing itself to closing unapproved drainage works into the Quill Lakes Area • Little to no action taken until recently
  20. 20. Quill Lakes a Symptom of Wider Need to Protect and Restore Wetlands • Carbon sequestration • Wildlife habitat • Groundwater replenishment • Water purification • Flood prevention • Innovations in production collaborating with nature • Water storage (& climate change)
  21. 21. Need For Better Water Management with Climate Change: Projected Changes in Precipitation for months of April and August Prairie Climate Centre (Oct 19, 2017) with map data from the University of Victoria Pacific Climates Consortium
  22. 22. Opportunity Cost: Move from Water Drainage to Water Storage, Management, and Use =
  23. 23. Timeline of RCE Saskatchewan Strategic Interventions and Quill Lakes • RCE Letter for Water Management Roundtable (Oct. 10, 2017) • Pasqua First Nations announces intention for Judicial Review of lack of Provincial Environmental assessment (Nov. 2, 2017); applies for review in December • Pipe Ceremony with Elders for the Water (Nov. 6 at Treaty 4 Governance Centre in Fort Qu’Appelle) • RCE Requests Canadian Government Environmental Assessment (Nov. 19, 2017) and Federal Request for Input (Nov. 24, 2017) • RCE Cites Relevant SDGs (#2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17) • Saskatchewan Alliance for Water Sustainability (SAWS) Incorporates (Nov. 24, 2017) • Developed website: • Petition for Provincial EIA and document release (Nov. 25, 2017)
  24. 24. 2018 Timeline • Common Ground Channel Diversion Project withdrawn (January, 2018) after emails showing inappropriately cozy relationship between QLWA and Government (based on Freedom of Information Act request by Saskatchewan Alliance for Water Sustainability and analysis by CBC and Dr. Jason MacLean at U. of Saskatchewan) • cozy-relationship-between-sask-gov-t-and-quill-lakes-1.4496750 • Pasqua First Nations reaches out of court settlement with Gov’t of SK requiring “enhanced engagement process” re. drainage plans (May 18, 2018) • Wetland Roundtable organized in Saskatoon by concerned organizations and volunteers (June 6-7, 2018) • Provincial Auditor of Saskatchewan releases critique of WSA: 2018 Report-Volume 1: “Ch. 12: Water Security Agency— Regulating Drainage” (June 7, 2018)
  25. 25. Continued Mobilization by Saskatchewan Alliance for Water Sustainability (SAWS) • Government Meeting: SK Water Security Agency (WSA) meets with SAWS & RCE from direction of Environment Minister Dustin Duncan (June 1, 2018) but no follow-up meeting • Media Releases: SAWs develops 7 Communication Releases for Public ( • Public Education Sessions: held in 2 communities on Last Mountain Lake with SAWS/Calling Lakes Ecomuseum/RCE • Letter Writing Campaign: to Ministry of Env. and WSA • Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment replies to SAWS Oct. 3, 2018; cites initiatives of SK Water Security Agency (WSA): • WSA has established a field office in Quill Lakes area (Wadena, SK) • WSA promoting consolidation of drainage on producer’s own property (vs. others & downstream)
  26. 26. Global Connections: RCEs and International Bodies • RCE Saskatchewan presents on Quill Lakes Diversion Project at 1st Global RCE Thematic Conference in Okayama, Japan (December 5-7, 2017) • Focus on issues of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SDG #12)
  27. 27. • IAU’s Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD) Initiative • See HESD Portal: • Launches IAU HESD Cluster in 2018 • Brings together clusters of universities on each SDG • RCE SK Higher Education Partners (U. of Saskatchewan, U. of Regina & Luther College) asked to lead Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12) cluster International Association of Universities (IAU) and RCEs
  28. 28. Role of RCEs, IAU HESD Cluster, & Americas Universities in Distress How can RCEs: • Assist in identification of Higher Education institutions to participate in each cluster? • Encourage “whole institutional” approaches (faculty, student, staff, & alumni participation & interdisciplinarity) to the SDGs? • Apply RCE’s ESD research to transform university practice as “living laboratories” then return back to communities?