Farmer wants to know who’s responsible for ditch that flooded his field

A farmer near Regina has been trying to find answers for who is responsible for the flooding of his land just west of the Global Transportation Hub. As David Baxter tells us, it seems the individual is caught between two levels of government.

For two years, James Farley has been trying to determine who is responsible for a drainage ditch that runs along the north side of his property just west of Regina. In July 2015, the channel flooded.

“[The City of Regina] released their water out of their retention ponds into the channel, and the channel can’t handle the water and it back flooded into my crop land, and I lost approximately 50 acres of crop,” Farley said.

Farley estimates this flood cost him more than $20,000.

A photo of James Farley’s flooded field from July 2015.
A photo of James Farley’s flooded field from July 2015. James Farley/submitted

The City of Regina originally built the drainage ditch in 2009, during the early days of the Global Transportation Hub’s (GTH) development.

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“The Global Transportation Hub is the source of the runoff, however because the channel is supposedly the responsibility of the city, the Global Transportation Hub does not want to get involved with any maintenance,” Farley said.

The ditch does run through the GTH and the city and GTH are in talks about transferring ownership.

The Water Security Agency (WSA) sent Farley a letter in December 2016. This letter says the city sent a letter to the GTH and “essentially handed over responsibilities for the drainage ditch” in March 2014.

However, there has been no application from the GTH to the WSA to officially apply for ownership. Therefore, the WSA deemed that ownership and responsibility for the channel rests with the permit holder, the City of Regina.

The WSA confirmed this is still the case Wednesday.

As a long term solution, both Farley and WSA and GTH Minister Dustin Duncan are in favour of establishing a local watershed authority to manage the ditch. Farley said he and his neighbours have been involved in these discussions since the flooding incident.

“It can take some time, but that doesn’t stop the existing permit holder, the City of Regina, from doing some work; some maintenance work around the channel this fall and into the winter,” Duncan said Tuesday.

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Once a watershed association is formed all the stakeholders would pay into it. This money would be used for projects such as performing maintenance on the ditch. Farley said water is retained in the ditch because of a built up of silt and the heavy presence of cattails.

The drainage ditch as it runs through the Global Transportation Hub.
The drainage ditch as it runs through the Global Transportation Hub. Derek Putz/Global News

As for why the GTH has not applied to formally takeover the drainage ditch, it’s because official ownership is part of ongoing servicing negotiations with the City of Regina.

“The City of Regina and Global Transportation Hub Authority (GTHA) are currently negotiating the provision by the City of certain capital infrastructure and operating services required by the GTHA,” Diana Hawryluk, executive director city planning & development, said in a statement.

“This includes the drainage channel. We are looking forward to formalizing an agreement in the near future. As the negotiations are on-going we are unable to comment further at this time.”

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While these negotiations continue, Farley is left to hope a resolution comes and the ditch can be properly maintained. However, he said there was a missed opportunity to fix the flooding problem.

“Because it’s not functioning properly it just sits with water, so it makes it very difficult to do maintenance. If it was like this past summer when it was dry they could have done the maintenance,” Farley said.