NDP Urges Pallister and Trudeau Governments to Ensure Water Safety As North Dakota Water Proceeds with two Diversion Projects

With North Dakota gearing up to build two major projects that would allow water to flow from the Missouri River basin into the Red and Assiniboine rivers, the NDP is urging the Pallister and Trudeau governments to intervene to protect Manitoba’s waterways, NDP Environment Critic Rob Altemeyer said today.

“Manitoba has been able to delay these water diversion projects through diplomacy and court action for years over concerns of contaminants and foreign species entering our waterways,” Altemeyer said. “But now, both projects are advancing and funds are in place for construction, despite many unanswered questions about the downstream impacts.”

The larger of the two projects, the Northwest Area Water Supply project, would carry water from the Missouri River to the northwest region of North Dakota, where it would enter the Assiniboine River system via the Souris River basin. The second diversion, called the Red River Valley Water Supply Project, would carry water to the northeast region of the state and into the Red River.

The Red River is part of the Hudson Bay water basin, which has been separate from the Missouri River basin for thousands of years, but these diversion projects could bring potentially polluted water with excess nutrients and possible foreign species into Manitoba, Altemeyer noted. This is similar to the concerns raised over water from Devils Lake, which has been linked to additional pollutants to the Red River, he added.

According to the October 2015 report of the International Red River Board, water from Devils Lake has been linked to excessive dissolved solids and sulfates at the Canada-U.S.A. border. For most of the 2014/15 water year, the amount of dissolved solids remained at or above the objective of 500 mg/L.

“The Pallister and Trudeau governments must show their commitment to protecting Manitoba’s waterways and pursue discussions with North Dakota to prevent any further contamination,” Altemeyer said. “It’s not good enough to merely accept assurances from North Dakota that the water is safe, the province and Ottawa must ensure it is safe.”