Province fights N.D. water-transfer plan
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.”
David McLaughlin travels back and forth to Ottawa, racking up flight and hotel bills.