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MacNutt farm still battling illegal flooding eight years later
Published Tuesday, April 9, 2019 6:38PM CST
Farmers in MacNutt has been dealing with illegal flooding from neighbours for eight years, and the farmers, along with the Saskatchewan NDP are putting pressure on the provincial government to step up.
Peter and Barbara Onofreychuk made their first complaint to the Water Security Agency (WSA) in April 2011 regarding flooding onto their farm land from a neighbouring farm. After years of conversations and complaints to the government, a lawsuit against the WSA was ruled in favour of the Onofreychuks by Saskatchewan’s Court of Queen’s Bench. The ruling said the WSA breached its duty, and had until October 26, 2018 to fix the issue. The Onofreychuks said they saw no fix.
“[The WSA] is the government entity here. They get power from the provincial government to force rules and regulations. They let me down,” Peter Onofreychuk said at the legislature following Tuesday’s Question Period.
Onofreychuk said the flooding has caused him to lose money, and now he could face expropriation of his land.
Cathy Sproule, the NDP WSA critic, said the Smith Creek Watershed Association’s solution is to take the Onofreychuk’s farm land, while the WSA is sitting on their hands and not doing what the judge ordered.
“Water security has told these people to fix it,” Sproule said. “Now their solution is to turn around and take Peter’s land because he won’t consent to this illegal drainage.”
“I think the WSA is going to have to beef up, and be more proactive in their enforcement.”
Dustin Duncan, the minister responsible for the WSA, said the government has been taking steps to resolving the situation. He said the neighbours have agreed to make changes to comply with draining legislation, but it takes time.
“When they indicated that they were going towards becoming in compliance, we just want to work with them,” Duncan said. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to bring the hammer down when they’ve said ‘yes, we want to work towards being an approved project.’”
But Onofreychuk said it should be an easy fix.
“Just fix the channel – fix the Blackbird Creek channel – so the water would stay in the channel, and I’ll let the water go through my property and it’ll continue on to Manitoba,” Onofreychuk said.
The province said in March, ditch blocks were ordered to be put in place in the area in question. It says WSA inspectors are expected to ensure all land owners are in compliance with draining legislation this month.