Muskrat Falls didn’t cause Mud Lake flood: re­port

The Labradorian - - NEWS - BY JAMES MCLEOD

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has re­leased its in­de­pen­dent as­sess­ment of the Mud Lake flood­ing, which con­cluded the Muskrat Falls hy­dro­elec­tric dam was not to blame.

Last spring, the com­mu­nity of Mud Lake, near the mouth of Lake Melville, suf­fered se­vere flood­ing af­ter an ice-jam just down­stream forced spring runoff wa­ter into the com­mu­nity. Lo­cals said while the com­mu­nity has flooded be­fore, they’d never ex­pe­ri­enced any­thing like that.

Right from the be­gin­ning, Nal­cor En­ergy said the Muskrat Falls hy­dro­elec­tric dam wasn’t to blame, but per­sis­tent ques­tions caused the gov­ern­ment to com­mis­sion a study by Dr. Kar­lerich Lin­den­schmidt to fig­ure out what hap­pened.

“The high freshet dis­charge that oc­curred dur­ing May 2017 was caused by nat­u­ral events, par­tic­u­lar the rain-on-snow even in the mid­dle basin of the Churchill River and the high rain­fall event just prior to and dur­ing the May 2017 flood,” the fi­nal re­port con­cluded.

“The Muskrat Falls spill­way was op­er­ated in such a man­ner as to re­lease the same amount of wa­ter through the spill­way that was flow­ing into the reser­voir; hence, the ice-jam flood event of 17 May 2017 along the lower reach of the Churchill River can­not be at­trib­uted to the op­er­a­tions of the spill­way.”

In a news re­lease, Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Ed­die Joyce said the gov­ern­ment is study­ing the re­port.

“We have be­gun re­view­ing the re­port and we ap­pre­ci­ate the ef­fort the team made in pro­vid­ing this re­port in a timely man­ner,” Joyce stated. “The flood­ing event at Mud Lake deeply af­fected the res­i­dents of the area and our gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to help­ing them and pro­tect­ing against the po­ten­tial for fu­ture events.”

The re­port likely won’t sat­isfy ev­ery­one, and it still raises con­cerns for Robert Way, who has a PHD in phys­i­cal ge­og­ra­phy and is from Happy Val­leygoose Bay.

Way said Nal­cor isn’t col­lect­ing as much data as is needed to fully un­der­stand the flows of the river and as­sess the ef­fects of Muskrat Falls.

“They were not col­lect­ing enough data in the area to be able to, I guess, prove that they didn’t have an in­flu­ence,” he said.

“I can see a sce­nario whereby the flows ei­ther from Muskrat Falls or Churchill Falls may have con­trib­uted to the ice con­di­tions and favoured an ice jam form­ing.”

Way also said that if Nal­cor had been mon­i­tor­ing river con­di­tions bet­ter, the com­pany could have mit­i­gated the flood us­ing the Muskrat Falls spill­way.

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