- You may wish to just scroll down to the CONTENT of my letter to the persons responsible for the proposed Highgate Dam, look for “THE QUESTIONS” (14) that I asked them to answer.
- The REPLY from the Officials Responsible is beyond that, look for REPLY FROM GOVERNMENT, ANSWERS TO THE 14 QUESTIONS
= = = = = = = = = = = = = =
THE PROPOSED HIGHGATE DAM WAS STOPPED, IN RELATIVELY SHORT ORDER
- An energetic, happy group of local and regional people in the North Saskatchewan River corridor organized to inform themselves and others about the wisdom (?) of the proposed dam.
- The earlier WIN against the boondoggle Meridian Dam on the South Saskatchewan River had developed a well-informed, empowered and connected group of citizens willing to share what they had learned.
They in turn had been assisted by the citizens who successfully demonstrated that the Oldman Dam in southern Alberta was not a good idea, only to have the Court decision completely disregarded by the Provincial Government. That dam was built, but strategically-important lessons were passed along to the “Meridian” people, and through that vector also informed the “Highgate” people.
3. Some Provincial and Federal Government officials and scientists activated conversations behind-the-scenes.
4. PROCESS: Water networks with knowledgeable people across Canada were alerted to help spread news of HOW things were evolving with the Highgate proposal for water.
If abuse-of-process is allowed in one area, it will be copied and used in another. The goal is corporate control of water supplies for the purpose of making a lot of money (as in oil and gas). A carrot held in front of potential investors in this “water supply expansion project”, a large dam built with public money, was “equity interests” in the water that would accumulate behind the proposed dam.
People who have worked in the area understand that CONTROL OF PROCESS can give parties CONTROL OF OUTCOME. Process can determine outcome.
Abuse-of-process has to be stopped wherever it happens. That is essentially what the 14 QUESTIONS in the letter below are about. The well-informed and active regional group was essential. But as the Oldman group discovered, superior information in and of itself will not necessarily win the day. Our Government and regulatory processes have to be more-or-less clean of corruption.
There are ways to help hold officials to account. I think the QUESTIONS helped create the WIN.
The battle to stop a dumb project that would have filled bank accounts of insiders, at a huge cost to the public purse (dams cost billions of dollars), was surprisingly short and easy (relative to other battles).
From: Sandra Finley
Sent: January-05-07 7:51 AM
To: David* Forbes; John* Nilson; Stuart* Kramer; Wayne* Dybvig; Larry* Lenton; Bryan. Ireland
Subject: Water: North Saskatchewan River, proposed dam
January 5, 2007
Dear John, David, Stuart, Wayne, Larry and Bryan,
(I assume that Larry will respond to this.)
I looked quickly on the SaskWater web-site but did not find what I am looking for. Would you mind forwarding to me the Terms of Reference for the Preliminary Feasibility study on the proposed dam (or variations) for the North Sask River upstream of North Battleford?
I would also appreciate the name of the consultants who are under contract to do the study.
(This is addressed to David who is minster responsible for SaskWater, to John, minister responsible for Sask Watershed Authority, to Stuart in his capacity as head of SaskWater, to Wayne in relation to cross-border water agreements, and to Larry and Bryan in their co-ordinator roles related to the water project on the North Sask River. … I’m sending this email to each of you, to save you some time passing it along through the channels!)
May you all find 2007 to be an interesting and rewarding year, with many more to come.
EMAIL TO GOVERNMENT, 14 QUESTIONS RE FEASIBILITY STUDY, JUNE 20, 2006
Decisions taken by one party in a River Basin affect parties along the length of the River. The proposal to build the High Gate Dam on the North Saskatchewan River is a matter for people in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The Federal Government is already helping with the proposed dam, so it is also a matter for them (Canadian tax-payers).
A major contributor to Canada’s Hudson Bay drainage area via Lake Winnipeg and the Nelson River, the North Saskatchewan originates in the Columbia Icefield, on the highway between Jasper and Banff. The river brings water across the prairies – from the Continental Divide to Lake Winnipeg, from there to Hudson Bay. The water is used in communities along the River; it is piped to more communities. The majority of people are species-centric, so I will stop there, no mention of other animals or species.
This letter and request for information is addressed to:
(1) The OPERATIONAL people in the Government of Saskatchewan responsible for water matters. (A Preliminary Feasibility Study of a proposed High Gate Dam on the North Sask River is currently under way.)
(2) It is addressed to the Federal Government:
- Dept of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) which has jurisdiction where waterways cross provincial boundaries.
- Dept of Agriculture because the Prairie Farms Rehabilitation Act (PFRA) is involved, in Saskatchewan, in the High Gate Dam proposal. Also because the (National) Canada Saskatchewan Water Supply Expansion Programme is funding the Preliminary Feasibility Study.
- Parks Canada because the North Saskatchewan River is in Banff National Park; they have programmes related to the River.
- Environment Canada, National Water Research Institute in particular, but also to the Environmental Assessment Agency.
- Minister of Agriculture, Chuck Strahl; Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty;
- John Baird, President of the Treasury Board; Auditor General Sheila Fraser.
NOTE: This letter, as it goes to Sheila Fraser, is a request to audit the (National) Canada Saskatchewan Water Supply Expansion Programme in the Federal Department of Agriculture. I believe the documentation below leads to the conclusion that this Programme is a vehicle through which tax-payers’ money is funneled off to serve business interests, at the expense of the public interest.
There are “rules and regulations” under which the money is dispensed, of course, but consider the example of the proposed High Gate Dam to see what is happening in the real world. These “programmes” are a way to circumvent proper democratic functioning. There is no tendering process, public scrutiny is thwarted, and true accountability withers. (The CARDS programme, also through the Dept of Agriculture, has been brought to the attention of the Government earlier for the same reason.)
Continuing with the list of parties to whom this letter is addressed:
(3) Each of the Provinces (Provincial Governments) in which the North Saskatchewan River flows.
(4) Some of the Cities, Towns, Reservations and Municipalities along the length of the River.
(5) Some of the organizations that will have valuable input regarding the impact of a Dam on the North Saskatchewan River.
(6) Some of the Citizens of Saskatchewan and Canada whose money would be used to pay for the proposed Dam.
(7) University of Saskatchewan Centre for Hydrology. http://info.wlu.ca/~wwwgeog/ColdRegions4/Quinton%20CRHMtrainingcourse.doc
(8) (National) Canada Saskatchewan Water Supply Expansion Programme http://www.agr.gc.ca/env/index_e.php?section=h2o&page=sk
The specific people this letter is addressed to are at To Whom Was The Letter Addressed? I cannot know all the parties that have an interest, nor have I the time to contact them.
Please, will you see to it that this communication is passed along to people you know, who should see it? I am hoping that the list above will trigger you to think of others.
Because many of us are interested in the same information, I think it is expedient if I pose questions that elicit answers. When the answers are received I will circulate them for the edification of everyone.
Bryan Ireland and Larry Lenton, as I understand, are co-chairs of the Preliminary Feasibility Study. And so I address the questions to them for answering.
(1) WHAT ARE THE TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR THE PRELIMINARY FEASIBILITY STUDY?
It is expected that the Terms of Reference will be at least as enlightened as those used by Golder and Associates (Calgary, engineering company) for the Preliminary Feasibility Study for the proposed Meridian Dam on the South Saskatchewan River a few years ago. (Those terms will be in SaskWater’s (Stuart Kramer’s) files, although it was Clare Kirkland who was head of SaskWater at the time).
Please provide a copy of the actual Terms of Reference that are being used for the current study related to the proposed High Gate Dam.
(2) SPECIFICALLY WHO IS DOING THE PRELIMINARY FEASIBILITY STUDY? AND PLEASE PROVIDE DETAILS OF THE PROCESS THROUGH WHICH THEY ARE THE ONES DOING THE STUDY.
This is a democracy. It is assumed that “due process” prevails. It is recalled that the Government funding for the Preliminary Feasibility Study of the proposed Meridian Dam was secured by Golder and Associates Engineering Company through the tendering process.
Who is doing the Preliminary Feasibility Study for the proposed High Gate Dam? Please provide the public record of the due process by which this company has been awarded the work contract.
I assume that Bryan Ireland from the Sask Watershed Authority and Larry Lenton from the (Federal) PFRA (Government employees) are co-chairs to co-ordinate public meetings and communications between the public, the Government and the Company that is doing the Study. Please confirm.
(3) WHEN AND WHERE ARE THE PUBLIC MEETINGS?
I note on the Agrivision Corporation web-site: “Public consultations Spring 2004”, in relation to the High Gate Dam. Agrivision Corporation is a lobbyist for “water development” on behalf of business interests. I doubt that the Government of Saskatchewan would accept this as the “public consultation” that is a component of due process in democratic governance. It is assumed that the Government, on behalf of citizens, is in charge of the process. But I have not seen any information about the public consultation meetings. Hence the question: when and where are they?
It is established by the precedent of the Meridian Dam, and by due process, that public meetings will be held,
by the Government, and
working with the legitimate, selected by due process, company that is doing the Study,
in representative communities that will be affected by the decision. The communities up and down the River Basin are affected. But also the tax-payers who will pay for the dam.
The legitimate public consultations provide INPUT to the decision, and are part of the data collection process. They come PRIOR TO the writing of the Preliminary Feasibility Study. Once the study is written, there is another round of meetings in the same communities to present the OUTCOME, the actual Report. Citizens and organizations review how their input has been incorporated into the study. There may be changes required as a consequence of the second round of meetings. After that point, the final Report is submitted to the Government. And to a web-site so that all citizens have access to it.
Alberta and Manitoba, as well as Saskatchewan, will be very much impacted by a proposed dam on the North Saskatchewan River. The expectation is that there will be public meetings BEFORE the Study is written in (proposed):
- Edmonton (upriver, Alberta)
- Prince Albert (downriver, Saskatchewan)
- Winnipeg (Manitoba – concerning the impact on Lake Winnipeg which is seriously threatened today by the water / lack of clean water flowing into it).
- and obviously in North Battleford, the city closest to the construction site, and therefore the main beneficiary.
(4) WHAT IS THE NAME AND CONTACT INFORMATION FROM WHICH THE PUBLIC CAN OBTAIN INFORMATION ON THE PROCESS PROPOSED FOR THE HIGH GATE DAM PRELIMINARY FEASIBILITY STUDY? AND FOR UPDATES.
Is it the phone number and email address for each of Bryan Ireland and Larry Lenton? A web address would be insufficient.
(5) WHAT IS THE LIST OF ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE BEING KEPT INFORMED OF DEVELOPMENTS IN THE PROCESS? I ASSUME THE ANSWER TO QUESTION #4 IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE INFORMATION FLOW? IS IT BRYAN IRELAND AND LARRY LENTON?
NOTE: In the Great Sand Hills process, the Government tried to keep the list of parties on the distribution list secret. I emphasize that this is a democracy. Full disclosure is a requirement. The Government never did officially supply the information. It was obtained, nonetheless.
(6) WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT TIME LINE, AND THE EVENTS ALONG IT?
(It seems to me that if the time line is the same as Agrivision’s, the public should be wary?)
(7) WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE PROPOSED DAM? IS IT FOR IRRIGATION? IS IT FOR RECREATION? OR IS IT FOR HYDRO-ELECTRIC DEVELOPMENT?
I see all three mentioned on the Agrivision web-site, http://www.droughtproofing.com/pdf/2005Conference/Corneil.pdf
If you look in the files collected for the study of the proposed Meridian dam, you will find that dams built to serve one purpose can be successful. Dams built with the claim that they will serve the three functions simultaneously, do not reflect reality. The “benefits” of all three are used to justify the construction of the dam. But in the end, if you study the history of dams, because the needs and impact of the body of water that is created are different, the three purposes aren’t actually compatible.
One example of the incompatibility of function (claimed benefit):
a justification for the dam will be “to provide cheap and clean electricity”.
another justification will be irrigation.
but if you create irrigation, you also create a large demand for electricity because water is heavy and irrigation pumps require large amounts of electricity.
Information is appended: if you drive south of Alberta and Saskatchewan across the artificial political boundary into the U.S., a continuation of the Great Plains, you find that individual states are finding ways to cut back on irrigation because of the volume of electricity that is required. They cannot simultaneously serve the irrigators need for water and electricity, and meet the needs of the non-agricultural sector for the generation of electrical power.
If the answer is that the Dam will be used for hydro-electricity, will you please provide the assurance that the Preliminary Feasibility Study, Terms of Reference include disclosure of the cost of the transmission lines that would take the electricity to its destination? If hydro-electricity is generated, the public will pay for the transmission lines. Transmission lines per mile are very expensive; the further from market, the more expensive. The study must obviously then identify the market for the electricity, in order to do the costing. Is it the irrigators? Is it the United States? Where would it fit into the power grid?
Transmission costs are often omitted from analysis, unjustifiably, or shall we say “Conveniently”? A professionally done and credible study will do full costing.
(7) HOW CURRENT IS THE KNOWLEDGE BASE FOR THE STUDY?
It is reasonable to expect that we will have world class, state-of-the-art knowledge brought to bear, right from the beginning of the decision process. The decision will be for our children, NOT FOR US.
The proposed dam would be a very large capital investment and for the long term. Investment in a dam will mean that there will not be money for other undertakings.
Agrivision Corporation is, to date, playing a large role in the dam project.
a. How current is Agrivision?
Look at page x (roman numeral 10) of the Executive Summary of the Report, “Water Wealth, a 50-year Water Development Plan for Saskatchewan, November 4, 2004. Prepared for Saskatchewan Agrivision Incorp, by Clifton Associates. (Wayne Clifton is a principal of Agrivision along with Red Williams and Al Scholz. His company, Clifton Associates does engineering work related to “water development” projects.). The Report is prepared through funding by Ag and Ag Food Canada. The map title: “Map B, Potential Dams and Diversions in Saskatchewan”.
This Map B in Agrivision’s 50-year Plan for Saskatchewan is dated 1972. …??
Further information regarding the quality of information from Agrivision is appended. It is deleted from here in order to focus on the questions.
(8) DO THE TERMS OF REFERENCE, IN THE COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS, REQUIRE INCLUSION OF THE COSTS OF DE-COMMISSIONING THE DAM?
Costs are analyzed for the life span of the dam. Tax-payers will pay the eventual de-commissioning costs. Dams silt up and are no longer useful, at which point they become an extremely large expense for tax-payers, as the Americans and other nations that are struggling with de-commission have found out.
The life span of the dam is partially determined by the silt load carried by the River. I presume the silt load needs to be known in order to determine the life expectancy of the dam, also necessary to costing.
The question: do the Terms of Reference require that de-commissioning costs be addressed? is extremely important. I don’t like to knowingly create a large expense that I might not live long enough to have to deal with. Not in fairness to the “next generation”. And not if I am a responsible person.
(9) WHICH MINISTER AND DEPUTY MININSTER OF THE GOVERNMENT OF SASKATCHEWAN WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE NATURE OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THE DECISION PROCESS?
THIS IS A WATER ISSUE, WILL IT BE:
JOHN NILSON, MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT RESPONSIBLE FOR SASKATCHEWAN WATERSHED AUTHORITY (SWA), and
ALAN PARKINSON, ACTING DEPUTY MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT, and
STUART KRAMER, PRESIDENT OF SWA?
or, will it be:
DAVID FORBES, MINISTER RESPONSIBLE FOR SASK WATER, and
STUART KRAMER, in his role of PRESIDENT OF SASK WATER (he is also President of SWA)
WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE?
Why do I ask?
Information can be current/not current. It can be enlightening or it can be used to manipulate.
I don’t think you can deny that the Governments work with Agrivision Corporation. Much (most?) of its funding comes from Government. Brad Wall, leader of the Provincial Opposition has been quoted in the newspapers, as supportive of Agrivision. So both the governing NDP, AND the Opposition Sask Party are supportive.
The Federal Liberal Government has been very supportive. Former Prime Minister Paul Martin and Minister of Finance (before that Minister of Agriculture) Ralph Goodale, as recorded in earlier documentation, gave their personal endorsements of Agrivision’s efforts, projected on the big screen at the Agrivision Conference. When you get the former Prime Minister of Canada taking the time to videotape a personal promotion piece for Red’s work as President of Agrivision, along with simultaneously the Minister of Finance Ralph Goodale (Liberal, Saskatchewan), you know that Agrivision is well connected. Red Williams is a long time Liberal and friend of Ralph Goodale, has been President of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party. In a google search you find him described as a “political insider”, and “Williams has lent his talents to the pursuit of pure politics, usually at the organizational and executive level provincially and nationally, but also as a candidate. While he may quietly rue three defeats at the polls …”).
I think the question of accountability for information has to be answered. To date, Agrivision has held the “public consultation” on the High Date Dam and has apparently usurped the role of Government?
This is of concern to some people, including myself, who have attended Agrivision’s Conferences on water development for Saskatchewan.
I am sorry to provide the following detail because it makes this letter too lengthy. But “the development” of our water is extremely important. So please bear with me. The documentation demonstrates through experience, what happens when functions that belong in the public sphere are handed off to commercial interests.
When Governments set up programmes to fund the work of outfits like Agrivision, through this documentation you will see how a resource like water, is effectively moved out from under democratic scrutiny and control. Government working with business – – the idea is sold as a benign, efficient and fruitful process. Very fruitful, except for the public.
From an email I sent in November, 2005. About the manipulation of information. This is JUST ONE example:
“Graham Parsons is part of the Agrivision team and will be giving a presentation in North Battleford, as he did in Regina.
HIGHLY SELECTIVE AND MISLEADING INFORMATION = PROPAGANDA
At the Agrivision “Drought-Proofing the Economy” Conference (Regina) Graham Parsons gave the main presentations about the water resource. Graham is an economist. The credibility of the information supplied by Dr. Parsons is dependent upon an ignorant audience.
Just one example (question I asked of him): “You have a graph which shows the fluctuation in the water levels of the South Saskatchewan River in the period 1912 to present. The graph shows declining fluctuation which you present as a positive consequence of the dam on the River. (Agrivision is promoting many dams.)
What is the change in VOLUME of water in the River over the same period?
Response from Presenter Graham Parsons: yes, the fluctuations have declined, .. etc.
Questioner interrupts: I did not ask about fluctuation, I clearly asked “What is the change in the VOLUME of water over that time period?
Response from presenter Graham Parsons: he never did answer the question.
The answer is that over the period 1910 to present, the volume of water has decreased by 80%. The flow level at Saskatoon is 20% of what it was in 1910. It seems to me that if the VOLUME of water has decreased by 80%, you will experience a decrease in fluctuation levels. Graham offered nothing to refute the point I was making. So I assume I am right. And the audience was being misled, through the presentation in wonderful power-point images, projected on a large screen, and all from a man presented as an expert.
There is no process to hold Agrivision accountable. Agrivision gets much of its funding from various Government sources.
The summer-time glacial water feed (irrigation happens in the summer months) will be gone when the last of the glaciers in the Rocky Mountains disappear, projected to be in another 15 to 20 years. The North Saskatchewan River starts at the Columbia Icefield which, due to melting, has receded by over a kilometre since I was there as a child in 1959 when it came right up to the Highway. In the beginning, before being challenged, this was not part of the information package presented by Agrivision to the public. Or, it was mentioned very peripherally.
If the information is withheld, there will not be solid public debate about the wisdom of creating greater demand for the water in the River, through expanded diversion projects. The glaciers, a significant component of the summer time feed will be gone. You will have put all your money into infrastructure that makes more and more communities dependent upon an “expanded” water supply. Exactly what is going to replace the LOWERED water supply, let alone make an EXPANDED supply available?
All indications are that the money should be invested in CONSERVATION infrastructure. A requirement of sustainability is the ability to look into the future and anticipate the changes that will come, to the extent possible. We fool ourselves if we think that the “drought-proofing” rhetoric of the 1930’s is appropriate, given today’s situation. It will be an extreme disservice to the next generation if they, through our decisions, are dependent upon a water supply that has been over-exploited. Especially if all the money has been invested in the wrong response and there is little time or money left for crisis intervention.
We should be working toward preparation for conditions in the future. In order to refute this statement, Agrivision must present solid evidence to show that the glaciers are not in a state of fairly rapid meltdown. A research paper out of the National Water Research Institute shows that, contrary to what the scientists believed a few short years ago, we are already past the peak flow off the glaciers, as they melt. We are already into the period of dwindling flow off the glaciers. The flow will continue to deteriorate until the body of ice is gone.
Several more questions from others and myself at the Agrivision conference drew attention to the selective nature of the information presented by Agrivision, all of which contributed to a very skewed understanding, provided by an “expert”, as newspaper reports referred to Graham Parsons. It amounts to propaganda. It’s okay for me: I’ve worked on water issues and know truth from fiction. But an intention to deceive is not okay. Manipulation of information to suit your purposes is not okay. Perhaps it is only ignorance. Neither is that okay.
If Agrivision is the presenter of the information, it is difficult to hold a Minister of the Crown responsible for the misrepresentations to the public (unless it’s through the Deputy Minister that sits on the Board of Agrivision?).
A Minister of the Crown has to be held responsible for what happens to the gift of water that is essential for our life here. Hence the question: please provide the name of the Minister who holds responsibility – for the information that is used and to see that due process is followed.
(10) A QUESTION CONCERNING THE (National) Canada Saskatchewan Water Supply Expansion Programme, that is funding the PRELIMINARY FEASIBILITY STUDY FOR THE PROPOSED HIGH GATE DAM.
The preceding questions focus on the need for due process, which includes a tendering process. When a corporation can apply for Government money, for which there is no public process or competition, you have circumvented democratic process. People with “an agenda”, with vested interests, pursue their interests at public expense. In the case of “water development” they infringe on the PUBLIC INTEREST. And the Government is not held to account.
The Government of Canada, in its Accountability Agenda, needs to dismantle all the programmes like the (National) Canada Saskatchewan Water Supply Expansion Programme. They serve to circumvent the tendering requirement of Government and make “accountability” impossible. This is not the only example that has been provided to the Government (there is the CARDS example and others).
Of course, this was not what was INTENDED when the programmes were set up. It is what IS happening.
(11) DO THE TERMS OF REFERENCE MAKE CLEAR THAT ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS ARE PART OF THE PRELIMINARY FEASIBILITY STUDY?
Stuart, you were not President of Sask Water & SWA during the Meridian Dam process of gathering information. So you may not be familiar with the precedents that have been established. The idea that environmental costs can be addressed at some stage “Later” has been clearly abandoned. It is unacceptable and there is no valid reason for the practice. Environmental costs have to be addressed from the very beginning, in the Preliminary Feasibility Study. The Terms of Reference have to require it. The Meridian Dam Preliminary Feasibility Study included the assessment of environmental impact, at the insistence of the public.
(12) RELATED TO STATE-OF-THE ART EXPECTATIONS: DO THE TERMS OF REFERENCE REQUIRE THE AUTHORS OF THE STUDY TO PERFORM FULL COST ACCOUNTING (also known as costing of externalities)? (some of them can be costed, others require verbal acknowledgement and elaboration)
If you require evidence that this is “State-of-the-art” accounting practice, I refer you to the current issue of the Globe & Mail’s magazine “Report on Business” (June 2006). Canadians would view the Report on Business as a conservative business publication, I believe. It certainly isn’t out there in radical land. There is a significant article on full cost accounting; it is mainstream thinking now.
Also, if you attended the FSIN’s water conference last year and heard the speech by Robert F. Kennedy Jr, you will be familiar with full cost accounting in the decision process.
(13) IS IT INCLUDED IN THE TERMS OF REFERENCE, AND IF THE DAM WILL SERVE IRRIGATION PURPOSES, A REQUIREMENT TO ASCERTAIN THE NUMBER and the PERSPECTIVE OF THE CURRENT LAND-OWNERS, “for whom” THE IRRIGATION CAPABILITY WOULD BE DEVELOPED?
The value of public consultations, for example in the proposed Meridian Dam exercise, was to shine a light on the purported beneficiaries. The small group of promoters of the dam sold it on the basis of the wonderful benefits to farmers who would now be able to irrigate their land. Someone asked questions. It turned out that the about one hundred land owners who would be able to irrigate were mainly ranchers. Ranchers notoriously do not like to be seen as “farmers” and had absolutely no intention of becoming farmers, let alone irrigation farmers.
Agrivision (as with the promoters of the Meridian Dam) envisions that progressive people who understand the benefits of irrigation will come and replace the existing land-owners. There was a study presented during the Meridian exercise. The money to be made is actually in land speculation. Yes, the land that becomes irrigated is more valuable. There is a one-time windfall profit to the person who owns the land before the dam construction. When they sell the land later, they make a large profit because the public has paid for the cost of the dam and the land is now irrigable. Anyone buying and selling the land thereafter will not make money because they will buy and sell at the price of irrigated land. So there is one round of people who become wealthy.
I think the public has to know the actual number of land-owners we are talking about with the proposed High Gate Dam, and the Preliminary Feasibility Study is where the information should be collected.
One should also know where the labour will come from, whether to build the dam or to do the irrigation farming, and at what price? The Tar Sands in Alberta have pretty well emptied Saskatchewan. The prices for labour would have to be competitive with Fort McMurray’s. The Preliminary Feasibility Study has to based in reality.
(14) IS IT INCLUDED, IN THE TERMS OF REFERENCE, A NECESSITY TO ANSWER THE QUESTION OF WHETHER THE EXISTING IRRIGATION CAPACITY IN SASKATCHEWAN IS FULLY DEVELOPED? AND IF IT ISN’T, THEN EXACTLY WHY WOULD WE BUILD ANOTHER DAM?
The Gardiner Dam was built with the understanding that 300,000 acres would become irrigated. After 30 years, about 100,000 acres are irrigated (one third of the number used to justify construction). So there is lots of capacity for the expansion of irrigation around Lake Diefenbaker.
The Rafferty-Alameda Dam in Saskatchewan was built with irrigation in mind. To date there has been almost no development of irrigation there.
I think that the tax-payers of Saskatchewan and Canada who will be the “payors” should understand exactly why another dam would be constructed, especially given the under-development of current capacity.
Government finances are not different from household finances. If you invest in a big boat, you have less money for post-secondary education of your children. If you incur large debts, you have less flexibility. If you invest in an over-sized house, and the market falls off, you have little flexibility.
I believe these are 14 straight-forward questions. I look forward to an early reply from Bryan Ireland and Larry Lenton.
Thanks very much, on behalf of myself and other citizens, with whom the information will be shared.
TO WHOM WAS THE LETTER ADDRESSED?
I ADDRESS THIS LETTER TO THE FOLLOWING LIST: (But who else should be addressed? Will you please pass this along to them? Many thanks!)
Chuck Strahl, Federal Minister of Agriculture, Strahl.C@parl.gc.ca
Jim Flaherty, Federal Minister of Finance. DID NOT GET THIS DONE.
John Baird, President of the Treasury Board, (as with Jim Flaherty)
Sheila Fraser, Auditor General, email@example.com
Saskatchewan Provincial Auditor, Fred Wendel, firstname.lastname@example.org
David Forbes, Minister of Labour and Minister Responsible for SaskWater, email@example.com
Stuart Kramer, head of SaskWater, firstname.lastname@example.org
John Nilson, Minister of Environment, responsible for Sask Watershed Authority (SWA), email@example.com
Acting Deputy Minister Dept of Environment, Alan Parkinson, alanparkinson@ serm.gov.sk.ca
Chair of the Board of SWA (Alan Parkinson)
President of Sask Watershed Authority (Stuart Kramer)
Policy & Communications, SWA, Gord Will, firstname.lastname@example.org
Operations Division, SWA, Bryan Ireland, email@example.com
Corporate Secretary, SWA, Murray Bryck, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bryan Ireland, co-chair of the Preliminary Feasibility Study of the HighGate Dam, email@example.com
Larry Lenton, co-chair of the Prelim Study, from the PFRA (Agriculture Canada, Prairie Farms Rehabilitation Act), Regina, 306-780-5153, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chuck Strahl, Minister responsible for the PFRA, Strahl.C@parl.gc.ca
Government of Alberta, (Alberta should be informed. I didn’t contact them.)
Government of Manitoba, (as with Alberta)
University of Saskatchewan Centre for Hydrology. http://info.wlu.ca/~wwwgeog/ColdRegions4/Quinton%20CRHMtrainingcourse.doc
John W. Pomeroy, email@example.com
Myrna Kotash, author of ” Reading the River: A Traveller’s Companion to the North Saskatchewan”, Coteau Books, 2005 (Did not contact.)
Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS): National Manager, c/o Parks Canada, Ottawa; Tel. (819) 994-2913; E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The North Saskatchewan River is located in Banff, Canada’s oldest national park, in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Three nearby international-class resorts, Jasper, Banff and Lake Louise, each provide a full range of accommodation and commercial services for those planning a visit to the area or to canoe the river. Information on park services and facilities is available at Banff townsite, Lake Louise, the warden station at Saskatchewan River Crossing, and, by mail, from the Park Superintendent.
North Saskatchewan River and Banff National Park Services, Permits and Regulations: Superintendent, Banff National Park, P.O. Box 900, Banff, Alberta, T0L 0C0. (http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/index_e.asp)
Topographic Maps: The North Saskatchewan River is depicted at the 1:50,000 scale by maps 83C/1,2,3 and 82N/15,16 in the National Topographic Series. These maps are available from the Canada Map Office, 615 Booth Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E9, Tel: (613) 952-7000 (http://maps.NRCan.gc.ca) and from the visitor information centres in Banff and Jasper.
The Agrivision Corporation web-site, http://www.droughtproofing.com/pdf/2005Conference/Corneil.pdf reads (regarding the River):
“Alberta to consume 50% of the natural flow. Saskatchewan to consume 50% of the remainder and 50% of the added flow rising within its boundaries. Man(itoba) to be receiver of remainder. …
A growing economy needs expanding water supplies – municipalities, industry lakes”
God might be able to expand the water supply, I doubt that man can! but never mind. Agrivision does not point out that 50% of abundance is luxery, but 50% of scarcity is starvation. The glaciers that are the main summer-time feed of water for the River will be gone in 25 years.
The map supplied by Agrivision Corp, as detailed in QUESTION # (7) HOW CURRENT IS THE KNOWLEDGE BASE FOR THE STUDY? is more than 30 years old.
SINCE the “drought-proofing” reaction as a remedy to “the dirty thirties”, we have learned from the experience of the people who built the dams. In the United States hundreds of dams were built for the same reasons as Agrivision presents. “You gotta USE all that water! It’s WASTED if it just flows into Lake Winnipeg and then into Hudson’s Bay. Drought? We can be impervious to it.”
The attitude leads to the situation where, for example, the Colorado River delta is defunct. The thriving and diverse life on the delta is gone. The livelihoods of the people on the delta has been taken from them. And so too, the people are now gone.
The over-diversion mistake is recognized. And the usual, it is tax-payers who now foot the bill for EXTREMELY expensive attempts to re-establish the delta.
Another example of what happens when a lack of foresight (outdated thinking) runs the show:
– Agrivision Corporation (Red Williams, Al Scholz and Wayne Clifton) brought a lawyer from the United States to their conference a few years back. The lawyer told that there is litigation on every river in the United States over water rights, so much litigation that there is now a National Association of lawyers who do nothing but litigation over water rights.
I believe the purpose of the lawyer’s presentation was to illustrate just how valuable water is today: people are fighting over the rights to it.
Red, Al and Wayne are of course, right. The water is valuable and people can make money from it, especially if the Government does not exercise the sole reason for its existence: to protect “the commons” for the benefit of all, and for future generations. If we play our cards right, we can even lay the groundwork so that the lawyers will have a good business here in the future, same as in the U.S.!
In a drought year in Idaho (during the time we were disseminating information to understand whether the proposed Meridian Dam was a good idea) in that one summer alone, the State of Idaho paid out $73 million dollars to its irrigators. The payment was made if the farmers would turn off their irrigation pumps. Irrigation pumps consume a lot of energy (water is heavy). City people need electricity to run their air-conditioners in the heat of the drought. In Idaho they can’t generate enough electricity to serve both needs. So the farmers got a buy-out. In addition to the capital costs that went from the public purse into the construction of the dams, PLUS the on-going subsidization of the annual operating costs of the irrigation infrastructure. Talk to the people in southern Alberta, as we did during the information-gathering related to the proposed Meridian Dam: the on-going operating subsidies are large. Then, in Idaho, they are now paying out large sums to the farmers to turn off their pumps!
This is an example of the incompatibility between a dam built for irrigation purposes and one built for the production of hydro-electricity. If you claim the benefits of both, then you must factor in the cost of the increase in the demand for electricity created by the construction of the dam, that will accompany the development of the irrigation industry. And you must factor in the annual subsidies that are required for the irrigation infrastructure, after the dam becomes operational.
Nebraska faces the same problems as Idaho: Nebraska has now allocated well over a hundred million dollars to REDUCE the amount of land under irrigation.
It is reasonable for citizens to expect that the Preliminary Feasibility Study for the High Gate Dam will reconcile the current history from the United States to arrive at sound development decisions for the citizens of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta, and for the North Saskatchewan River.
REPLY FROM GOVERNMENT, ANSWERS TO THE 14 QUESTIONS
Dear Ms. Finley:
Re: Canada Saskatchewan Water Supply Expansion Program
We are responding to your June 20, 2006 electronic mail which includes fourteen questions regarding the role of the Canada-Saskatchewan Water Supply Expansion Program (CSWSEP) in a study to determine the feasibility of a dam on the North Saskatchewan River near North Battleford.
As you may know, we are the co-chairs of the Program Working Group (PWG) that is responsible to manage the CSWSEP. Larry is Technical Director, Prairie Central Region with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – PFRA. Bryan is Acting Vice President of the Operations Division with the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority. Other PWG members are from Western Economic Diversification Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food and SaskWater The PWG ensures CSWSEP objectives are met by reviewing and evaluating applications submitted for funding..
The PWG received an application for funding under the CSWSEP, Tier 3 – Strategic Initiatives component of the Program, from a proponent group called the “North Sask River Water Resource Committee (NSRWRC)”. Their proposal requested funds to conduct a preliminary feasibility study into multi-purpose water storage/usage options on the North Saskatchewan River in the North Battleford region. The PWG approved the proposal and the NSRWRC is now developing detailed study Terms of Reference and will initiate a tendering process for selecting a consultant to undertake the work.
The following are responses to the fourteen questions included in your June 20 electronic mail. These responses are based on information available at this time which includes information provided by the NSRWRC in their application to the CSWSEP.
(1) What are the terms of reference for the preliminary feasibility study?
The detailed terms of reference are currently under development by the NSRWRC at the time of this writing.
Both AAFC-PFRA and the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority have offered to provide advice to the NSRWRC to help develop the terms of reference for the study and to help oversee the work of the consultant selected to undertake the study. It is anticipated the consultant will use existing information, including previous studies, as much as possible as you have suggested.
The NSRWRC will be providing the terms of reference to the PWG when they become available.
(2) Specifically who is doing the preliminary feasibility study? and please provide details of the process through which they are the ones doing the study.
In accordance with federal and provincial contracting guidelines the NSRWRC is required to undertake a competitive process to select a consultant. Based on estimated cost of the feasibility study the NSRWRC is required to publicly advertise their intention to hire a consultant.
As co-chairs of PWG we are not managing the feasibility study nor are we responsible for implementing any aspects of any one of the many studies supported under the CSWSEP. The NSRWRC is responsible to coordinate all aspects of their study including public meetings and communications.
(3) When and where are the public meetings?
The application submitted to the PWG by the NSRWRC indicates there will be public meetings prior to the report being written as well as at a later stage. The NSRWRC will be determining the specific locations for the meetings.
(4) What is the name and contact information from which the public can obtain information on the process proposed for the high gate dam preliminary feasibility study? and for updates? Is it the phone number and email address for each of Bryan Ireland and Larry Lenton? A web address would be insufficient.
The NSRWRC is represented by a Board of Directors which is chaired by Mr. Steve McKechnie; a farmer/ratepayer in the RM of Britannia. Mr. Ryan Bayter, the Manager of the Battlefords, Big Gully, Border REDA Alliance, is a member and the acting secretary of the NSRWRC. Inquiries regarding the process for the study and updates concerning its progress can be directed to either:
Mr. Steve McKechnie, Chair at (306) 821-6669 or e-mail email@example.com
Mr. Ryan Bayter, Member and Acting Secretary, at (306) 446-7506 firstname.lastname@example.org
As noted earlier, we are the co-chairs of the PWG responsible for implementing the CSWSEP. Questions regarding the CSWSEP can be directed to either of us. Larry can be reached at 306-780-5153 or e-mail at email@example.com. Bryan can be contacted at 306-694-3950 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
(5) What is the list of organizations and individuals who are being kept informed of developments in the process? I assume the answer to question # 4 is responsible for the information flow? Is it Bryan Ireland and Larry Lenton?
The NSRWRC is responsible for providing updates of the study progress to interested parties including developing a list of interested organizations and individuals if that meets their needs. NSRWRC Chair, Mr. McKechnie, is responsible for the flow of information on the study as noted above.
Upon completion of the study the prepared report will be provided to the PWG. Arrangements can be made to read a copy of the report either by contacting us or by contacting the NSRWRC.
(6) What is the government time line, and the events along it?
The feasibility study timeline is being developed by the NSRWRC in conjunction with the detailed terms of reference; however, it is assumed that the study would be completed by the Fall of 2007.
The PWG is responsible to ensure that the CSWSEP completion date of March 31, 2008 is respected by all proponents that are undertaking activities under the program including this feasibility study.
(7a) What is the purpose of the proposed dam? Is it for irrigation? Is it for recreation? Or is it for hydro-electric development?
The application submitted by the NSRWRC states that the water supply study will examine multiple uses including irrigation and other agricultural needs, municipal, power generation, tourism, recreation and value added processing. The study will address the extent to which the various water use needs can be met.
(7b) How current is the knowledge base for the study?
One of the objectives of the CSWSEP is to provide support for studies and investigations that increase the knowledge base of water resources and water supply opportunities and limitations. The proposed study by NSRWRC fits well with this objective. CSWSEP support for this study will enable the current information to be brought together and for the public to have access to a more current knowledge base on this study topic.
In order to complete this preliminary feasibility study it is necessary to draw upon previous work and complement that with information regarding current technology and from consultations.
(8) Do the terms of reference, in the cost-benefit analysis, require inclusion of the costs of de-commissioning the dam?
It is anticipated the terms of reference will specify that current best practices, commensurate with preliminary level feasibility studies, to be used for the cost-benefit analysis.
(9) Which Minister and Deputy Minister of the Government of Saskatchewan will be held responsible for the nature of the information used in the decision process?
We have determined that your question covers two aspects – (1) financial support to develop project; and 2) regulatory approval of a project. In respect to the financial component of your question we the writers observe that organizations, agencies and individuals must decide the type and amount of information needed to support their decision to invest or not invest in a project. In specific regard to the project being studied we are not aware of any requests by the NSRWRC or others for funding to develop a project.
In respect to the second component of your question, if the NSRWRC or another organization decided to proceed towards development of a project they would be required to fulfill the regulatory requirements of a number of municipal, provincial and federal government agencies. A list of the regulatory agencies and their responsibilities could be assembled if requested, but in general terms these agencies would review the information submitted by the project proponent and subsequently determine if there is sufficient information to determine the merits of the proposal. If there are information gaps the project proponent would be required to obtain additional information to fill the gap(s). It is also anticipated the public would be consulted by the regulatory agencies as a component of the regulatory process.
(10) A question concerning the (National) Canada Saskatchewan Water Supply Expansion Program that is funding the preliminary feasibility study for the proposed High Gate Dam.
The CSWSEP requires that a competitive tendering process be used for the selection of third parties to undertake studies such as this. Once the detailed Terms of Reference are completed, a Request for Proposals will be tendered by the NSRWRC.
(11) Do the terms of reference make clear that environmental considerations are part of the preliminary feasibility study?
The proposal makes it clear that the NSRWRC will have environmental considerations as a major component of their study.
(12) Related to state-of-the art expectations: Do the terms of reference require the authors of the study to perform full cost accounting (also known as costing of externalities)?
The application submitted to the PWG did not specify the accounting method to be used. However, it is anticipated the detail terms of reference will specify the current best practices, commensurate with preliminary level feasibility studies, to be used for accounting for both the costs as well as the benefits.
(13) Is it included in the terms of reference, and if the dam will serve irrigation purposes, a requirement to ascertain the number and the perspective of the current land-owners, “for whom” the irrigation capability would be developed?
The study is intended to review the irrigation potential from several perspectives including land suitability, producer interest and economic viability.
(14) Is it included, in the terms of reference, a necessity to answer the question of whether the existing irrigation capacity in Saskatchewan is fully developed? and if it isn’t, then exactly why would we build another dam?
Irrigation potential is one of the several water uses that are to be considered in the study to be conducted by the NSRWRC. The CSWSEP is also supporting several other studies that are examining the feasibility of full utilization of existing irrigation water supply infrastructure in the Lake Diefenbaker area.
These feasibility studies help to advance the knowledge of study proponents to determine whether or not to proceed with – further detailed studies; to secure financial support for additional studies and project development; and to initiate application for regulatory approval from all levels of government.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide information on the role of the CSWSEP within Saskatchewan. For further information on the Canada Saskatchewan Water Supply Expansion Program is available at the following website: http://www.agr.gc.ca/env/index_e.php?section=h2o&page=sk
Larry Lenton Bryan Ireland
Federal Co-chair Provincial Co-chair
EMAIL TO GOVERNMENT, SEPT 27, RAISES ABUSE-OF-PROCESS
On June 20 I undertook “When the answers are received I will circulate them for the edification of everyone”:
– the officials and
This is the fulfillment of the June 20 commitment.
I will be acting upon the “answers to the questions” received from the Government.
NOTE to Larry and Bryan (Government co-chairs). On June 20th, I believed that abuse-of-process was a very worrisome issue. And so I provided extensive documentation. The question now is whether your response causes me to change that belief.
When I say “I will be acting upon” your input, it will involve a decision regarding the validity of the abuse-of-process belief. And I don’t really mean “I”! I invite people to pass this along to interested parties, to discuss it with others, and to provide their reactions. Is it legitimate process, or not. If not, why not?
If illegitimate process is a factor, then I believe it is the responsibility of the citizens in a democracy, working with Government officials, to find the ways to correct the process.
Cheers! and best wishes,
/Sandra Finley, Saskatoon
BILLION DOLLAR DAMS ARE NOT THE ANSWER, CRITICAL REVIEW OF AGRIVISION’S 50 YEAR PLAN FOR WATER “DEVELOPMENT”, SASKATCHEWAN ENVIRONMENTAL
Visit the SES website to access the full (32-page) report http://www.environmentalsociety.ca/issues/water/critique.html
News Release September 21 2006
BILLION DOLLAR DAMS ARE NOT THE ANSWER: CRITICAL REPORT RELEASED FOR WORLD RIVERS DAY
Saskatoon, SK-The Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES) today released a critique of Agrivision Corporation’s proposal to submerge the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers under a chain of dams and reservoirs. SES released its critique of Water Wealth: A Fifty Year Water Development Plan for Saskatchewan in preparation for World Rivers Day, September 24.
The Agrivision report advocates a very indirect development push: build dams to hold back water; hope this leads to increased irrigation and food production; hope increased food production attracts private-sector food processors and, thus, creates jobs.
Agrivision’s plan would cost tens-of-billions of dollars, with most of that money coming from taxpayers, notes the SES critique. SES Water Issues Coordinator Darrin Qualman called the Agrivision plan “expensive, 1970s mega-project thinking.” “With a total cost approaching $100,000 per Saskatchewan family, this is wildly unaffordable,” he said.
Not only are the proposed dams costly, they’re unnecessary. “We don’t need new dams in order to expand irrigation or food production. From the water in Lake Diefenbaker alone, we could look at irrigating hundreds-of-thousands of additional acres. The limiting factor for irrigation is not a lack of dams or water, it’s farmers’ reluctance to invest because of poor returns,” said Qualman.
Agrivision’s report advocates privatization of the province’s water infrastructure and, by extension, its water. It urges transfer of vital water supply infrastructure to private corporations, in effect transferring control and ownership of the water. Qualman said: “Most Saskatchewan citizens view access to water as a human right and our rivers as public trusts. The Agrivision report would have us recast our water and rivers as private property, commodities, and resources.”
The Agrivision report completely fails to deal with the environmental effects of its plan to re-plumb western Canada. “Though it asks us to support dams so numerous that our rivers could disappear under chains of reservoirs, the report does not examine the river ecology changes that dams bring,” said Qualman. SES’s critique goes beyond fault-finding: it presents alternatives that are affordable, sustainable, and that provide larger and more rapidly attainable benefits. Alternatives include direct, co-operative investment in food processing; expanded irrigation from existing water supplies; electricity production from wind and other renewable sources; safeguarding urban water supplies through conservation and, where appropriate, small dams or off-stream impoundments.
For more information on the SES’s critique, please see the attached Executive Summary, or visit the SES’s website to access the full (32-page) report www.environmentalsociety.ca/issues/water/critique.html . World Rivers Day, celebrated each year on the last Sunday in September, is part of the United Nation’s “Water for Life” decade (2005-2015).-30-
For more information, please contact: Darrin Qualman, SES Water Issues Coordinator: (306) 492-4714 or 665-1915