Case Study #57

Dry Lakes watershed - in the Souris basin

Governance Level


Water management topics addressed

Water abstraction for irrigation and other economic activities

#57: Dry Lakes watershed - in the Souris basin


Agricultural drainage is the act of removing excess water from farm land to improve the productivity or to increase the size of available cropland. Drainage is often seen as providing immediate economic benefits to farmers. However, environmental impacts can occur as a result of draining farmland. Loss of wetlands is a prominent example. Impacts can be seen in the form of increased nutrient pollution, increased soil erosion flowing downstream, decreased flood protection, impact on related wildlife, including waterfowl, and changes in stream flows. Drainage is often seen as a conflict between the economic benefits for the farmers and the long-term impacts on the surrounding environment and ecosystem services. Policies need to balance the costs and benefits, which requires an understanding both of the resource system and the social systems surrounding agricultural drainage. Academic research can be used to work towards knowledge-based policy, but this is dependent on research existing in those areas.

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