Prov­ince fights N.D. water-trans­fer plan

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS -

MAN­I­TOBA’S Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment min­is­ter says the prov­ince is in­ter­ven­ing in an ef­fort to pre­vent North Dakota from po­ten­tially send­ing in­va­sive species into the Red River and Lake Win­nipeg from the Mis­souri River.

“Man­i­toba has filed a no­tice of ap­peal with re­spect to the U.S. fed­eral district court’s Aug. 10 rul­ing on the North­west Area Water Sup­ply (NAWS) project case,” Rochelle Squires said Thurs­day.

“Man­i­toba’s pri­mary con­cern with the NAWS project and other in­ter­basin water trans­fers in North Dakota has al­ways been the se­ri­ous eco­log­i­cal con­se­quences that would re­sult from the in­tro­duc­tion of harm­ful in­va­sive species and aquatic dis­eases from the Mis­souri River basin into Man­i­toba’s rivers and lakes,” she said.

“While we re­gret that fur­ther le­gal ac­tion is nec­es­sary, our pri­or­ity is still to en­sure that wa­ters in Man­i­toba and Canada re­ceive the high­est pos­si­ble level of pro­tec­tion as the NAWS project moves for­ward.”

New Demo­crat MLA Rob Al­te­meyer and MP Daniel Blaikie re­cently raised alarms over the diver­sion projects in North Dakota.

The water would be pumped through pipe­lines to al­low North Dakota to grow its in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment ca­pac­ity and to re­lieve years of drought, Al­te­meyer said.

“Both the Red River and the Assini­boine River are un­der threat, po­ten­tially se­vere threat,” he said.

Squires said Man­i­toba be­lieves the great­est con­cern with in­ter-basin water trans­fer projects arises with re­spect to mi­cro­bi­o­log­i­cal dis­ease­caus­ing or­gan­isms and the mi­cro­bi­o­log­i­cal early life stages of plants, fish, and in­ver­te­brates.

The min­is­ter told re­porters the diver­sion could par­tic­u­larly en­dan­ger fish life in Man­i­toba.

“An ex­am­ple of po­ten­tial im­pacts are those as­so­ci­ated with the par­a­sitic pro­to­zoa, com­monly known as whirling dis­ease,” Squires said.

“Whirling dis­ease is hav­ing dev­as­tat­ing im­pacts on cold-water fish­eries such as salmon, trout and sim­i­lar species in North Amer­ica.

“The dis­ease usu­ally causes neu­ro­log­i­cal dam­age to young fish, caus­ing the af­fected fish to ‘whirl’ in a corkscrew pat­tern. This makes feed­ing dif­fi­cult, makes it easy for preda­tors to eat the fish and thus their sur­vival rates are greatly re­duced,” she said.

“Whirling dis­ease is not cur­rently found in Man­i­toba, but has been found in the Mis­souri River basin.”

MIKE DEAL / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

David McLaughlin trav­els back and forth to Ottawa, rack­ing up flight and ho­tel bills.

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