PEJ News - C. L. Cook - So the grand plan has begun. Despite environmental protestations of fast-tracked impact assessments, and requests for more study by both the Manitoba and federal governments, the waters of Devil's Lake are now coursing towards their ultimate home north of the border.
The Schemes and Dreams
of the Ironically Challenged
C. L. Cook
August 15th, 2005
Devil's Lake is a geologically isolated inland body whose lack of a natural drainage network creates regular flooding of farms and properties along the shoreline. The solution: A drainage system to slew overflows a dozen miles into the Sheyenne River. The Sheyenne runs through the Red River before collecting in Lake Winnipeg.
Dakotans say the floods have cost them billion and action couldn't be delayed by environmentalist's concerns of possible species corruption of the Red, Sheyenne and Lake Winnipeg by the creatures, vegetation, parasites, viruses, etc; all uniquely evolved in the biologically sequestered Devil's Lake. And then there's the quality of the water itself.
Friends of the Earth, an international environmental organization, say the lakes sulfates and phosphorous levels should be more closely studied. Surrounded by farms, the lake both supplies water and receives agricultural run-off; run-off laden with fertilizer and pesticides. FOE spokesperson, Beatrice Olivastri believes more environmental oversight should have been demanded before the sluiceways were opened on the project. "The testing that took place . . . was a fast-track assessment that really is inadequate," said Olivastri.
Manitoba's Premier, Gary Doer says there are concerns about the effects on the Red River, a central feature of the provinces largest city, and possible plant contamination in Lake Winnipeg. He says test results on the vegetation are pending.
The diversion project has been a source of bitter division and legal battles across the borders for years. For their part, Dakotans say the water in Devil's Lake is fine, and local fishing is thriving.