A potential irrigation project has some waterfront cabin owners along Reid Lake worried about water levels, fish and wildlife, and their property values.

The Saskatchewan Water Security Agency (WSA) is set to meet with different groups of stakeholders in the coming weeks concerning its research from the last year that they say supports irrigation from the man-made reservoir.

Jeremy Cockrill, the minister responsible for the WSA, said last week they'd been in contact with the Duncairn Cabin Owners Association, which their President James Wright disagrees with. 

"WSA hasn't actually contacted us, we've been trying to get a meeting with them for quite a while," he said. "We had one meeting this spring, but they never mentioned anything about irrigation, and they were asked."

Wright's family has owned a cabin at the southern end of the lake in Ferguson Bay since the 1950s and has seen the water levels fluctuate annually. At the beginning of the spring, the water level sat down about 10 inches from full in front of his place. As of last week, he said it's down about four feet from full. 

The WSA listed the lake at 92 per cent full on July 31, down 1-foot-8-inches.

"We've seen the lake dry in front of the cabins numerous times," he said. "People have built their homes at this lake lot developments relying on a stable lake level."

The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) constructed the reservoir in 1943 and in 1981 placed a moratorium on any additional irrigation. The organization, which was a federal government branch under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, recently handed the water rights over to the WSA.

"Now all of a sudden WSA has operated it for two years and has found enough excess water for 60 plus pivots," he said. "It doesn't look like they've studied it that much."

Not only is the cabin owner's association stressed about property value and water levels, but they are also worried about the fish, the Migratory Bird Sanctuary, and recreational use.

"Years ago, when the water levels fluctuated a lot more before they fixed the dam, our perch population was terrible," he said. "Now they've finally come back... That will definitely impact all the fishing resources."

"Irrigation and farming economy is very important to this province but the revenue generated by these cabin owners around the lake, the boats they buy, and the fuel is huge. We're talking millions and millions of dollars for recreation out of that lake."

According to Wright, over 200 cabins are situated around Reid Lake with about 120 of them in Ferguson Bay. A sizable amount of cabin owners have reached out to the province and the WSA about the potential for irrigation, most of which are against the idea.

"No, they're not [happy]," he said. "They've all sent letters to the Ministry. At Ferguson Bay, there are probably six to eight cabins that are for sale and if they lower this lake our property values are going to drop by half."

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