While flooding in recent years has underlined the need for a collaborative approach to water management in Western Canada, some farmers and others involved in managing water on farmland are organizing themselves with the aim of creating a common voice focused on sustainable water management that supports agriculture.
In Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Farm Stewardship Association was formed in 2011 with the mission of “managing our land and water resources to economically grow safe and abundant food for the world.”
A similar grassroots organization is now taking shape in Manitoba, as the provincial government has released a new surface water management strategy and is in the process of developing and implementing new water management regulations (a process which the province’s general farm organization Keystone Agricultural Producers has been a part of.)
“We are not about drainage. We are about water management. We do not believe in draining wetlands or in draining recklessly in a way that hurts or hampers other people, but we do believe it can be done,” says Chris Unrau, president of the new Manitoba Agricultural Water Management Association, and owner of a tile drainage/water management company in southern Manitoba. (continued below video)
MAWMA (yes, it’s pronounced “mama”) intends to represent farmers and the ag sector on all forms of water management, including surface drainage, tile and irrigation. By speaking as a group instead of as individuals, they’re hoping that regulators will include them in planning water policy.
“We’ve asked to be at the table with the Manitoba government to be able to help guide and even understand. We’d like to be part of the solution,” notes Unrau in the above video. “We believe we need to work in concert with the government, conservation groups, other interested stakeholders, whether it be habitat, watershed districts, etcetera. We need to work together to make this system work for everybody.”
The role, mission and funding structure of the new organization will be discussed during MAWMA’s annual meeting on March 24th in Winkler.