INCORPORATED NOVEMBER 2001
The seeds of the Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards were planted in 1998 when representatives from various government departments and other stakeholders met to discuss issues of water quality in the creek raised by the City of Swift Current. This led to a study of water quality along the creek up to the city’s Water Treatment Plant (WTP) that concluded there was no obvious decrease in water quality at the WTP compared to sites along the creek upstream of the plant. The group continued to meet after this study as it felt that there were benefits to continuing water quality monitoring and promoting stream stewardship to water users in the watershed.
In 1999, raw effluent spilled from the City of Swift Current Lagoons into the Swift Current Creek. The city was fined $25,000 with the stipulation that the money was to be used to form and lead a stream stewardship group to address riparian health and water quality issues. A community meeting was held in January 2001 on the topic of Riparian Stewardship with interested stakeholders including cabin owners associations, rural and urban municipalities, wildlife groups, agriculture producers and others vested in water quality and stream health in attendance. Government departments outlined what input or services they could offer to a watershed stewardship group. A steering committee with volunteers from around the watershed and government representatives was assembled to discuss the formation of a stewardship group.
This steering committee selected the name Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards, developed the mission statement and goals of the organization and drafted by-laws and policies and procedures of the organization. The SCCWS was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in 2001 and a coordinator was hired in 2002. Early projects were funded by Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development Saskatchewan (CARDS) as well as sponsorship from industry, other non-governmental agencies and government agencies.
In 2004, SCCWS embarked on an ambitious project of monitoring water quality and watershed health of the Swift Current Creek. This project consisted of measuring water quality, fish populations and health and macroinvertebrate (bugs) populations and health. This project lasted four years and provided a good understanding of the health of the Swift Current Creek and its watershed. Sponsorship of this project came from a number of rural and urban municipalities in the watershed and industries vested in water quality and watershed health.
In 2007 the SCCWS in co-operation with the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority (SWA) now the Water Security Agency (WSA), started on the Swift Current Creek Watershed Source Water Protection Plan (the Plan). The plan was released in 2009 and has 62 Key Actions that when implemented improve water quality and watershed health. This document continues to be the basis by which the SCCWS sets its yearly work plan ensuring funding from the WSA to see the actions in the plan completed.
Since 2007, the SCCWS has also been involved with the Agri-Environmental Group Plan (AEGP), now called the Canadian Agriculture Partnership AgriEnvironmental Technical Services (CAP-AETS) to assist the Ministry of Agriculture to deliver Farm Stewardship Programming (FSP) and the Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program (FRWIP). These programs provide funding to agriculture producers to implement Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) that eliminate or mitigate negative environmental impacts to the environment and enhance water quality and watershed health. Involvement with these programs has helped SCCWS achieve many of the Key Actions in the 2009 Plan and meet the goals as defined by the steering committee.
The membership and Board of Directors of the SCCWS has evolved from interested stakeholders and government personnel to representatives of rural and urban municipalities in the watershed and members at large who have expertise and interest in water and land management.
Since 2007, the SCCWS has completed other monitoring projects, one in 2013 to investigate if the Waste Water Treatment Plant built in 2007 was positively or negatively impacting the water quality and watershed health of the creek downstream of it. A creek long project was completed in 2017 as a comparison to the 2007 project to see if changes in the watershed during those ten years have impacted water quality and watershed health. A study was also completed to determine the impact of the Swift Current water treatment plant, landfill and wastewater treatment plant on water quality and watershed health downstream of the facility using data collected in the 2017 monitoring project. A follow up to the 2017 project was completed in 2018 looking at water quality in a stretch of the creek from north and east of Swift Current to north of Waldeck.
Recently the SCCWS has completed and is working on projects that have water quality monitoring as a component of the project to learn more about the efficacy of the project and water quality in general. These projects included the Engineered Rain Garden which looked at natural treatment of storm water in the city. The Herbert Water Use Plan EcoAction Project is an investigating the water quality within the Rush Lake Sub-basin. The Lake Winnipeg Basin Program Phosphorous in Saskatchewan project is being completed to help determine the causes of phosphorous loading in the Saskatchewan River. In the fall of 2020, the SCCWS was successful in an application to build constructed wetlands to improve water drained off of agriculture land before it enters the creek. These will be constructed in the fall of 2021. These projects also have an educational component which helps water users understand that the practices they implement in their day to day life have an impact on water quality and watershed health. The SCCWS strives to find projects to implement that have both an education component and a monitoring component.
In the fall of the 2018 the SCCWS board and staff completed a Strategic Plan. Resulting recommendations included bringing stakeholders together to:
• Determine what they see as the current issues of water quality and watershed health.
• Assess completeness of the action items in the Watershed Protection Plan.
• Identify actions that are still relevant to the SCCWS, and
• Add new actions, as needed.
The SCCWS brought stakeholders together at a meeting on October 29th, 2019 as a way to act on these recommendations. Stakeholders included municipalities, government departments, non-governmental organizations and industries that have a vested interest in the watershed. The SCCWS also invited representatives from groups that had been involved with the completion of the 2009 Plan and those that the SCCWS has worked with or have provided funding to the SCCWS to complete projects in the past 3 years.
The SCCWS produced an updated background report for all meeting attendees to describe the watershed and changes observed in the watershed in the ten years since the release of the Plan and a report outlining the projects completed by the SCCWS in the past five years. These reports allowed stakeholders to evaluate the relevance of the items in the Plan to the work of the SCCWS and the realities of water quality and watershed health today. Stakeholders were sent a survey to rank the issues that have emerged in the last ten years as to their impact on water quality and watershed health and to rank SCCWS’s initiatives and projects as to their importance.
After some presentations about the SCCWS, WSA and watershed planning, there was a facilitated discussion about the progress and relevance of the 62 Key Actions in the Plan. After the Plan was evaluated, the results of the survey were discussed. From these discussions, meeting attendees agreed on three priority issues that the SCCWS should focus on as it sets its Future Direction.
• Impacts of agriculture - including the potential effects of crop and livestock production on water quality and quantity, and watershed health and how the SCCWS can work with producers and industry to eliminate or mitigate these impacts.
• Impacts of extreme climate events - how they are managed to maximize water resources for all stakeholders, education about these events and the steps stakeholders can take to adapt to climate change and manage their own water resources.
• Impact of Invasive species on water quality and watershed health - this includes both aquatic species as well as invasive plants. The SCCWS will aim to educate and work with stakeholders and the public to stop or limit the spread of these species.
To assist the SCCWS as it sets its future direction a Technical Committee was assembled. The committee members possess a wide range of technical expertise in water and land management and represent various industries, government departments and the City of Swift Current. With the assistance of the Technical Committee, the SCCWS completed a report that sets the Future Direction of the work of the SCCWS over the next five years.
As the SCCWS moves forward it will continue with its educational programming and look to implement projects that focus on these three priority areas as well as the mission statement and goals that were set when the Stewards started.
I have joined the Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards as of May 2016.
In addition to my role with the Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards I operate a cow calf operation with my brother and his family. We are the third generation to raise livestock on the farm north of Rush Lake.
I understand first hand the importance of maintaining water quality and stream health of the Swift Creek. Our cattle drink water from the Swift Current Creek Watershed and much of the forage fed to the livestock is from land irrigated from water from the Watershed.
I graduated from the College of Agriculture with a degree in Animal Science in 1990. Since then I have held a number of positions gaining experience working with producers, government and business, allowing me to effectively promote awareness and understating of the importance of the Swift Current Creek among all stakeholders in the Watershed.
I look forward to working with all of the stakeholders in the Watershed to maintain and improve water quality and stream health of the Swift Current Creek.
Darren Fiddler; RM of Webb (Chairperson)
Bernie Lemire; RM of Carmichael (Saskatchewan Association of Watersheds Rep)
Jolene Peters; City of Swift Current
Pat Friesen; City of Swift Current
Frank Glen; RM of Swift Current
Don Mathies; RM of Excelsior
Stacy Wiens; Member at Large
Alanna Howell: Water Security Agency Technical Advisor
Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards would like to acknowledge and thank our partners and funding sponsors since our beginnings.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Agriculture, Food, and Rural Revitalization
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA)
Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP)
City of Swift Current
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Government of Canada
Government of Saskatchewan: Ministry of Agriculture
Pennwest Energy Trust
Plains Marketing Canada LP
RM of Arlington #79
RM of Bone Creek #108
RM of Carmichael #109
RM of Excelsior #166
RM of Lac Pelletier #107
RM of Saskatchewan Landing #167
RM of Swift Current #137
RM of Webb #138
Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation
SRC: Smart Science Solutions
Town of Herbert
Town of Shaunavon
Water Security Agency