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In The Red River Valley

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In The Red River Valley

[click for larger image]
Aerial photograph of the Red River, between Letellier and St Jean Baptiste, Manitoba, looking south.

North Dakota revives 40-year-old water diversion plan
11 January 2006

The state of North Dakota is looking again at the controversial Garrison Diversion water plan to move water out of the Missouri River for use in the Red River Valley.

State officials say more water is needed to stave off the threat of future shortages in the Red River Valley. A draft environmental impact statement, released by the state last week, evaluated several possible options to obtain more water.

The 350-page report indicates the state prefers a Garrison Diversion option that would move water from the Missouri River through more than 190 kilometres of pipeline to the Sheyenne River, which joins the Red River near Fargo.

The province of Manitoba has long opposed the Garrison Diversion proposal, which has been discussed since the 1960s, over concerns about the possible transfer of foreign species from the Missouri River drainage basin to the Red River Drainage Basin, which includes Lake Winnipeg.
Rick Nelson with the U.S. federal Bureau of Reclamation, which was involved in the study, says there are limited concerns about the transfer of foreign species from one watershed to another, since the water would be treated before leaving the Missouri River system.

Other changes to the 40-year-old plan also make it more feasible today, he said.

"The project has changed significantly from its original formulation in 1965," he said. "There is no irrigation component in this project, and the old project, of course, would have been a series of open canals and ditches that would have transferred water, and this to a great extent would be piped water."

Environmentalists question need for diversion

Environmentalists in Manitoba are not pleased to hear the old project is being discussed again.

"That'll be a major impact to our fisheries here in the province … and then it'll set a precedent as to, you know, we can exchange water from one basin to the other freely across our international line or border," Glen Koroluk of the Manitoba Eco-Network told CBC.

Koroluk also disputed North Dakota's claims to require more water in the future. The state is projecting a significant population boom in the Red River Valley, which would, in part, fuel the water shortages.

"The amount of water that they're predicting that then need in 50 years is based on a false prediction of what their population figures are. They're expecting some kind of boom happening in the Red River Valley, which isn't the case. North Dakota is actually losing population over the last 10, 15 years. So, what we have to do is use our water more efficiently," he said.

A provincial spokesperson raised similar concerns, saying Manitoba opposes any diversion of the Missouri River into the Red River Basin.

However, Nelson says opponents shouldn't jump to conclusions before finding out all the details on the new proposal.

"I think it's important that people evaluate the environmental impact statement so that everybody fully understands what the project is and what the project is not, and this is a public process," he said.

"We are to disclose what we plan to do, how we plan to do it and what those positive and negative impacts are. So I think it's important that people understand what this project involves and what the alternatives that we are evaluating involve."

The state is holding a series of public hearings around North Dakota in February on its plans. The federal government will identify its preferred alternative when the final environmental impact statement is released, not more than a year from now.

Red River Valley near Emerson, Manitoba

related internet links

1800 to 1999. from the
Manitoba Department of
Natural Resources

Wikipedia entry
an immense lake—bigger than
all of the present-day Great Lakes
combined The lake's modern-day
remnants, the largest of which
is Lake Winnipeg, dominate
the geography of Manitoba.
most of the lake was in what
is now The Red River Valley

see also the Manitobaside page
of this website

the history and the ecology,
past, present and future.
brought to you by
Prairie Public Broadcasting

Red River Valley Water Supply Project:

Red River Valley Water Supply Project:
(.pdf file. Adobe Reader is required)

Get Acrobat Reader Here

the wikipedia entry

Red River, Manitoba [click for larger image]

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