Appreciating & Protecting Our Waterways
Lakes and rivers are a critical part of a balanced ecosystem. They are home to hundreds of underwater species and support migratory and local bird populations. From paddling a kayak on the Moose Jaw River to fishing at a northern lake, our waterways provide a tremendous variety of attractions and recreational opportunities. In the drier climates of our province, waterways provide irrigation that increases the diversity of crops that are grown. Our lakes and rivers are the source for water treatment plants that supply water to the majority of Saskatchewan residents. However, our waterways, lakes and water supply sources are at risk of aquatic invasive species.
Zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species can be impossible to eliminate if they become established in a waterbody and can cost millions of dollars to manage. They pose significant threats to infrastructure, hydropower facilities, wastewater plants, irrigation systems, fisheries and aquatic habitat, recreational activities, tourism and property values.
Zebra mussels have been found in Manitoba lakes and in the northern U.S. bordering our province. The Ministry of Environment is taking action and has implemented a number of policies to prevent aquatic invasive species from entering Saskatchewan. It is important that the public be aware and take precautions when transporting watercraft from out of province.
Prevention is of the utmost importance. Our government has focused on public awareness through education and targeted signage about our Clean, Drain, Dry program, roadside boat inspections, decontaminations and regular monitoring of Saskatchewan’s waterbodies.
Inspection efforts last year resulted in 1,212 watercraft inspections and provided invasive species information to 872 watercraft owners who entered Saskatchewan from the United States and Manitoba. Three hundred and seven received detailed inspections by conservation officers and 119 required decontamination. We have increased our decontamination units from two to six.
The ministry plans to significantly increase the number of inspections across the province with the inspection program. To date, no invasive mussels have been found within Saskatchewan.
It is now mandatory for individuals transporting boats on all public roadways to remove drainage plugs prior to transport and to submit to inspection when passing an inspection station.
I am currently attending the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) conference. At the conference, I will be representing the Government of Saskatchewan and our plans to prevent quagga and zebra mussels from entering into the Saskatchewan water system. Public awareness and intergovernmental cooperation is essential in preventing the spread of invasive species into our province.
Saskatchewan partners with provincial organizations, Canada Border Security Agency, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and provincial governments in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and the Yukon to co-ordinate prevention on a regional basis.
I have distributed information on Clean, Drain and Dry your boat to our local boat dealers and reminders can be seen at many boat launches and fish cleaning stations around the province. There are informational pamphlets at the constituency office and details on correct practices can be found at online at Saskatchewan.ca by searching Clean Drain and Dry Your Boat.
I am confident the boaters of Saskatchewan will work together to protect our waterways. Our actions will reach far beyond our own borders. As I participate in the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region 2018 Summit, I will encourage continued and increased intergovernmental cooperation so we can always enjoy the benefits of Saskatchewan’s 100,000 lakes and rivers.