Water Quality Assurance
Whereas local governments are responsible for providing potable water to all residents, institutions, and businesses within their boundaries; and
Whereas local governments conduct due diligence in building and maintaining functional water treatment plant and distribution networks; and
Whereas many local governments use lakes and rivers that are the responsibility of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment as their water sources; and
Whereas the Government of Saskatchewan is also responsible for the regulation, permitting, oversight, and inspections of potential waterway polluters, such as oil producers and transporters;
Therefore be it resolved that the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association advocate with the Government of Saskatchewan to commission a review of all permitting and inspection systems under provincial jurisdiction to ensure that the necessary environmental impact assessments, regulation, and inspections are in place to protect public interest and the integrity of the municipal water sources.
The Government of Saskatchewan understands SUMA's concerns regarding the potential for emergencies to affect waterbodies used for drinking water source supplies. Following the summer 2016 Husky Energy oil spill, inspections of major watercourse crossings subject to both federal and provincial regulations were undertaken.
The government has tabled amendments to The Pipelines Act, 1998 that will lay the foundation for strengthening pipeline regulation in Saskatchewan. This includes making sure that risks to water bodies are fully addressed during the design, maintenance, and operation of pipelines.
With respect to the environmental assessment process, proposed pipeline projects are screened to determine whether or not the risk of adverse environmental effects is present and if widespread public concern may occur as a result of the environmental change. If so, the project is deemed a "development" under The Environmental Assessment Act and an environmental impact assessment (EIA) is required; the Minister of Environment makes a decision on whether to approve the EIA or not. Environmental protection measures are an integral part of pipeline planning and operation, which is considered during the review of proposed pipelines, as well as the potential socio-economic impacts that may result.
The provincial regulatory permitting and monitoring system of municipal and industrial effluents is already well developed. Beyond the measures outlined above, the Government of Saskatchewan will be pleased to work with SUMA and its member municipalities to advance protection of our important water resources in the future. It may also be worthwhile for municipalities to plan in advance what alternative water sources may be available in the event of an emergency affecting their primary source.