Delays in the WSA Processing Complaints About Drainage Disputes

Today, Saskatchewan Ombudsman, Mary McFadyen, released a report on an investigation into processes the Water Security Agency (WSA) used to address a farm couple’s complaint about drainage ditches. In the report, she makes six recommendations: one to reimburse the complaint registration fee to the couple, and the other five to improve the WSA’s complaint processes and timeliness.

In September 2010, a farm couple complained to the WSA that a neighbour had dug drainage ditches, which they believed were causing flooding on their home quarter. The couple followed the WSA’s process, beginning with a Request for Assistance in Resolving a Complaint, through to filing a formal complaint. While the WSA acknowledged that the neighbour’s ditches were illegal, its investigation and resolution process continued until October 2014, when the couple received a letter from the WSA, stating that the neighbour was now in compliance.

After completing the WSA’s process, the couple brought their complaint to Ombudsman Saskatchewan. Its investigation considered whether the WSA was administering claims reasonably, fairly and in a timely manner; and whether the WSA was enforcing works approval requirements in its Act when it finds unapproved drainage works during investigations.

McFadyen found that the WSA’s investigations took too long, thatsome processes were procedurally unfair or unclear and that the complainants were not provided good service. The WSA has accepted all six of the Ombudsman’s recommendations, which, in brief, include: develop effective and timely complaint processes and post them online; clarify the rules and processes for granting extensions; clarify the decision-making process for issuing an order to address unapproved works; and reimburse the complaint fee to the farm couple.

From January 1, 2014 – December 31, 2015, Ombudsman Saskatchewan received 24 complaints about the WSA complaints process for drainage works. She has decided that it is in the public interest for the report to be made available to the public.

More details are available in the report.