Millertown residents pushing for resolution at Red Indian Lake
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.”
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.