The Assiniboine Watershed Stewardship Association
The Assiniboine Watershed Stewardship Association (AWSA) is an independent, non-profit organization that is dedicated to protecting and enhancing source water in the Assiniboine River Watershed. Our VISION is citizens and communities of the Assiniboine River Watershed working together to protect the source waters of the Assiniboine River; its tributaries and aquifers within the watershed. Our MISSION is to have healthy source waters throughout the Assiniboine River Watershed.
In October 1996, the governments of Saskatchewan (Sask Water), Manitoba (Manitoba Conservation) and Canada (Environment Canada) agreed to conduct the Upper Assiniboine River Basin Study. The study was initiated as a result of the 1995 flood and other issues, including drainage and flood control and the disappearance of valuable wetland habitat. In addition, there was uncertainty regarding sustainable water supplies for municipal, industrial, agricultural and recreational purposes and a lack of knowledge regarding the hydrologic and ecological processes and their affects within the watershed. There was also growing concern that the quality of water was deteriorating, and uncertainty existed about appropriate measures for aquifer management and protection. The Upper Assiniboine River Basin Study provided information regarding the Basin’s water resources, and information and recommendations on which to base decisions affecting future water management. The study was organized into the Upper Assiniboine River Basin Study in August, 2000.
Following their establishment in October, 2002, the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority began a watershed management and aquifer planning initiative across the province. In 2004, two Watershed Advisory Committees were established within the Assiniboine River Watershed to lead the planning and decision-making process, the Assiniboine River Advisory Committee and the Yorkton Area Aquifers Advisory Committee. The two committees were made up of local representatives from Rural and Urban Municipalities, First Nations, as well as stewardship, agricultural and other interest groups. Their work built upon the Upper Assiniboine River Basin Study as well as extensive groundwater studies conducted in the Yorkton Aquifer Area, summarized in the report entitled, Groundwater Resources in the Yorkton Aquifer Management Plan Area Final Report (Maathuis and Simpson, 2006). Ultimately, these activities lead to the creation of the Assiniboine River Watershed Source Water Protection Plan and the Yorkton Area Aquifers Source Water Protection Plan in August, 2006.
With the creation of the two source water protection plans, an organization needed to be established to implement the plan’s key actions. This brought about the formation of the Assiniboine Watershed Stewardship Association Inc, which was incorporated as a non-profit organization on January 23, 2007, with their office opening in May of 2007. The AWSA is unique amongst watershed groups in the province in that it implements two source water protection plans, owing to the critical importance of groundwater in the Assiniboine River Watershed.
We work closely with all levels of government, as well as other stewardship groups and private agencies, to complete the key actions contained in our two Source Water Protection Plans. The Assiniboine River Watershed is an exceptional area with its own unique source water concerns. The Source Water Protection Plans target the highest ranking risks that are threatening the water supplies. The AWSA provides local solutions to local problems, while also providing a place people can call for help with their own water-related issues. Through the actions of the association, we strive to ensure that every person in the Assiniboine River Watershed has a safe, reliable supply of drinking water, now and into the future.