High wa­ter

Miller­town res­i­dents push­ing for res­o­lu­tion at Red In­dian Lake

The Central Voice - - Front Page - BY KYLE GREENHAM

The ris­ing wa­ter lev­els of Red In­dian Lake have also in­creased the ten­sions be­tween res­i­dents and Nal­cor En­ergy.

Owner of Mary March Wilder­ness Park in Buchans, Steve Har­ris, wit­nessed first­hand the dam­age wrought by the ris­ing wa­ters. The high-wa­ter lev­els, caused in part by the New­found­land and Labrador Hy­dro-op­er­ated Miller­town Dam, have brought ero­sion, flood­ing, prop­erty dam­age and poor wa­ter qual­ity to the af­fected ar­eas, he claims.

Har­ris says the sit­u­a­tion has come to a point where many con­cerned cit­i­zens of Buchans and Miller­town are pre­par­ing to form a group to put fur­ther pres­sure on Nal­cor En­ergy, of which New­found­land and Labrador Hy­dro is a sub­sidiary.

“The sit­u­a­tion won’t im­prove un­til peo­ple go up against Nal­cor for what they’re do­ing,” Har­ris said. “This reser­voir is de­stroy­ing peo­ple’s prop­erty and it seems no one’s pay­ing at­ten­tion to it. “It’s stir­ring a lot of peo­ple up now.” In re­cent years, these high wa­ter lev­els have be­come a grow­ing is­sue for both Miller­town and Buchans.

“We use to be able to use the hik­ing trails in our park by the end of June. Now, the wa­ter lev­els that bad, we can’t use it un­til the end of July,” said Har­ris.

On Oct. 18, a meet­ing was held be­tween Nal­cor, Grand Falls-Wind­sor – Buchans MHA Al Hawkins, and con­cerned res­i­dents in Miller­town.

Sev­eral com­plaints were voiced, from dam­aged cab­ins, ma­jor de­ple­tions in wa­ter qual­ity, and grow­ing fears of what de­struc­tion may come next spring.

Hawkins says the ma­jor take­away from the meet­ing was a pro­posed in­de­pen­dent con­sul­ta­tion, that is in­tended to be con­ducted and com­pleted be­fore the spring sea­son re­turns in 2019.

“We re­quested that (New­found­land and Labrador Hy­dro) would hire an in­de­pen­dent con­sul­tant to look at the wa­ter lev­els, both his­tor­i­cal and what’s hap­pened the past cou­ple years,” said Hawkins, “to see if we can get a clear un­der­stand­ing of what to ex­pect and if we can mit­i­gate any risk from flood­ing in the fu­ture.”

Hawkins ex­pects the re­sults from that con­sul­ta­tion will be a fol­lowed by an­other pub­lic dis­cus­sion with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Nal­cor and New­found­land and Labrador Hy­dro.

“I think Nal­cor are as ea­ger as we are to find a so­lu­tion to this mat­ter,” he said.

In an emailed re­sponse from Nal­cor En­ergy, the com­pany noted their re­cent meet­ing with con­cerned prop­erty own­ers and that Nal­cor is com­mit­ted to re­view­ing how the reser­voir is man­aged and to keep the pub­lic in­formed.

Mov­ing for­ward on ef­forts to pres­sure re­ac­tion from Nal­cor, Har­ris hopes com­pen­sa­tion can be given to res­i­dents and busi­ness own­ers who have been af­fected by ex­pand­ing depths of wa­ter.

Last year, Har­ris in­vested over $10,000 to re­in­force a cou­ple of ar­eas of the Mary March Wilder­ness Park that had ex­pe­ri­enced wa­ter dam­age.

“They’re mak­ing money from that dam, and it’s cost­ing peo­ple money for them to make money,” Har­ris said. “So there ought to be some form of com­pen­sa­tion. It’s past the point of ur­gent for some­thing to be done.”

FILE PHOTO

Steve Har­ris, owner of Mary March Wilder­ness Park in Buchans, says many res­i­dents con­cerned with the high wa­ter lev­els from Red In­dian Lake are plan­ning to form a group to put pres­sure on Nal­cor En­ergy. He says one ob­jec­tive is to en­sure com­pen­sa­tion is in place for those who have had their prop­er­ties dam­aged dur­ing the spring and sum­mer months when the tides are par­tic­u­larly high.

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