Agricultural drainage is described as moving water from wetlands to make land available for agriculture. Drainage provides several societal benefits, but can also have negative impact on wetlands and wildlife biodiversity, as well as water quality and drought and flood risk. Not surprisingly, drainage is often a contentious topic that divides communities as they debate the best way to manage land, water, and human values.
These complex social dimensions of drainage, how it is managed and governed and the conflicts that arise in the process, is the focus of this research project. To be successful, our project will engage earnestly with stakeholders in all aspects of the topic, including producers, landowners, watershed associations and stewardship groups, provincial authorities and numerous interested NGOs. Our goal is to understand how we can better foster collaboration over conflict, support sustainable livelihoods for farmers and ranchers while addressing wildlife and water quality and flow concerns, and deal with a changing climate that includes more extreme swings in water availability.