July 14, 2014 8:52 pm
Updated: July 15, 2014 1:31 pm

Sask. farmer believes trenching partially responsible for flooding


Watch above: A farmer suspects trenching may be the cause of recent flooding on his land that has dampened hopes for a record crop

QUILL LAKE, Sask. – Flooding in many areas of central Saskatchewan has damaged farmland and dampened hopes for a record crop.

Garnet Zerbin lives 150 kilometers east of Saskatoon near Quill Lake, Sask. Between June 29 and 30, 80 millimetres of rain fell in the area.

His basement flooded along with his farm yard where the water continues to rise against a recently built berm.

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“I built most of this yard. It was older and I put a lot of work into it, money time and effort,” said Zerbin.

Big Quill Lake is normally about three kilometres east of the farm. It has now spilled over, flooding all the pasture land in between.

“A lot of it is to do with rain fall but also a lot of it is to do with the trenching,” Zerbin speculates, explaining he’s seen farmers out in the fields with backhoes actively trenching.

The practice is illegal in Saskatchewan unless approved by the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency (WSA).

Patrick Boyle with the agency admits there are drainage cases open in this region of the province but says the majority of the complaints stem from the Yorkton area which is 180 kilometres southeast of Quill Lake, Sask.

Boyle won’t directly attribute water problems to trenching but does believe excess rain is more to blame. He says WSA is monitoring the situation.

“We’ve made contact with the local government and RM’s in the area and talked to them about the issues there,” he said.

According to the agency, Quill Lake was 519.6 meters above sea level in 1914. That level was exceeded in 2012 and another new record is anticipated by the end of July.

Zerbin has seen an aerial image of his farm snapped in 1981. The photo (seen below) is a stark contrast compared to a recent aerial shot of the fourth generation farm.


WSA anticipates the basin will crest around 520.23 meters.

Anyone who suspects illegal trenching and draining is taking place, is asked to file a formal complaint with the WSA.

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