Thursday, August 04, 2005

Water wars

The State of North Dakota thinks that dumping $50,000 worth of gravel inthe Devils Lake outletwill quiet Manitobans (and Canadians, and Americans) opposed to the outlet project. gravel will stop adult fish, fish eggs, and some plants. But pollutants, pathogens and other foreign species from Devils Lake will still get through the gravel bed into the Red River. There are no plans to delay the testing of the pumps (today or tomorrow), or opening of the outlet by next week. Canadian, and Minnesotan scientists have recently been allowed to take water samples from Devils Lake for testing. But North Dakota is not going to wait for the results of these tests before opening the outlet. Despite vehement opposition from citizens, non-profit groups, commercial fishers, and governments across both Canada and the U.S., North Dakota plans to proceed with the Devils Lake outlet without review under the Boundary Waters Treaty by the International Joint Commission. The Devils Lake water diversion project is an environmental issue, but it is also an enormous economic issue for Manitoba, as well as a question of international relations if North Dakota proceeds unilaterally in harming a shared water resource between Canada and the U.S. Show North Dakota that the legitimate concerns of Manitobans cannot be so easily brushed aside! Take action!There is very little time left, but both politicians and the media are paying close attention to this issue at the moment. Every effort will count at this late date! Tell your MLA, your MP, the Premier and the Prime Minister that you do not want North Dakota to test or open the Devils Lake outlet while negotiations are ongoing! Support Friends of the Earth in their campaign against the Devils Lake outllet - sign the petition! Boycott North Dakota!Call or e-mail the Prime Minister (613) 992-4211,, or I'm sure that Mr. Martin has been working long and hard on this issue, but it's time he heard from individual people. It is time for the government of Canada to put its foot down and stop being so polite. Diplomacy has not been successful. It's time for the PM to see how many people are counting on him to stand up for Canadians at this critical time. the PM to meet with Friends of the Earth to receive the petition, bearing the signatures of Canadians who are calling on the Canadian government to take legal action against North Dakota to ensure properreview of the Devils Lake project before the water starts to flow. Encourage both the PM and Premier of Manitoba to commit funds to support Manitobans in legal action against North Dakota!Call or e-mail the Premier of Manitoba (204) 945-3714 and -3715, Premier Gary Doer has also been working on this issue for many years. Let him know that, as a citizen of Manitoba, you support his every effort at this "eleventh hour" of the debate. This is not the way the people in Manitoba want to be treated by the southward trading partner! minute discussions are ongoing about the possibility of installing a sand filter (much more elaborate than the gravel bed currently being added), but no final decision has yet been reached. It has also not been determined whether Manitoba would be stuck paying the $18 million bill for the filter, or whether the filter would actually succeed in protectingManitoba waterways, and commercial fisheries from the potential pollutants, pathogens, and foreign species in Devils Lake. Tell the Premier that a sand filter (with micron sized passage) is the least Manitoba will accept in this dispute. But even this filter would not prevent all pathogens and foreign species from entering the Red River and Lake Winnipeg, and does nothing to stop dissolved pollutants from contaminating Manitoban waterways. Urge the Premier to continue to pursue a reference to the International Joint Commission (IJC) for the Devils Lake project. The IJC has a long history of resolution of trans-boundary waterdisputes. Its mandate would require full scientific review of the project, and negotiations would seek a solution acceptable to all parties.Contact the Canadian Ambassador to the U.S., Frank McKenna (202) 682-1740, canada@canadianembassy.org McKenna has been working very hard on this issue, and negotitated the addition of the gravel filter currently being constructed for the outlet. Check out Canada's statement to the IJC, and letters of support for Canada's concerns in the Devils Lake dispute at your MP!Visit the Government of Canada website: (click on the Members ofParliament for contact info, or find your MP using your postal code). Phone numbers for your MPs local constituency office can also be found in the back of the White Pages. (And if you put your MPs name into a search engine, you may also find their constituency website.)Contact Reg Alcock, President of the Treasury Board, and Minister responsible for Manitoba(204) 984-6787, (613) 995-7517,, or Alcock.R@parl.gc.ca your MLA andContact Manitoba's Minister of Water Stewardship, Mr. Steve Ashton (204) 945-1133, Express your support for the Provincial government's efforts to date, and encourage the province to commit funds to the legal defence of Manitoban priorities!Download and sign the Friend of the Earth PetitionMore than 1500 signatures have been collected in only two weeks - and there are many more people who want to make their voices heard! Petitions must be submitted bearing original signatures to be eligible for presentation to Parliament. Contact to arrange to submit your signed petition, or drop it off at the Manitoba Eco-Network (3-303 Portage Ave, 3rd floor of the MEC building, M-F 9am-5pm), or keep an eye out for FOE volunteers canvassing in public places around Winnipeg!(At the FOE website you can also make a donation to the legal/education fund online, Municipalities, First Nations groups, environmental organizations, and many neighbouring provinces and states have declared that the Devils Lake water diversion project needs to be reviewed under the Boundary Waters Treaty bythe International Joint Commission. However, neither the State of North Dakota nor the U.S. Federal government has agreed to this review, which would include a thorough scientific assessment. The Provincial and Federal governments have been negotiating for years over this issue. Friends ofthe Earth recently retained Canada's leading environmental lawyer to advise Manitoban First Nations and Municipalities on their legal options in this dispute. Although many leaders of these groups expressed an interest in taking legal action, funds are tight around the province after repairing the extensive flood damage this year, and the necessary funds have not yet been found to pursue North Dakota in court.)Express your concern to the man with his political hand on the Devils Lake tap, North Dakota Governor John Hoeven:

1 comment:

Triona Trog said...

Hi, it's Triona, just looking around. Good for you for raising awareness of environmental issues! It is a real challenge (I've been involved in a few campaigns on local issues like grizzly bears and park management)

Will be back to read some more. Thanks for the link btw - I'd link back to your blog but I haven't figured out how to do that :-(

P.S. I visited your home province of Nova Scotia last summer. I love Cape Breton! I'd go back every summer if I could.