Newcomers to the network will not know the implications of the proposed Highgate Dam in Saskatchewan, for decisions about water across Canada.
We have fought the process tooth-and-nail, one by which decisions over water are handed out of the hands of Government to other interests. The precedent cannot be allowed to stand.
There is great urgency to get people out to the Maidstone Meeting on February 27th.
The Government has changed. There needs to be a large attendance at this meeting. It is a ONE and ONLY chance, according to the press release (appended).
Issues with the proposed Highgate Dam on the North Sask River near North Battleford:
– through a Federal Government funding program (The Canada Saskatchewan Water Supply Expansion Program), responsibility for process and decisions about the water in the River were passed out of Government hands to other interests. The River is trans-boundary water.
– “Agrivision Corporation” is the group of people who organized the first meeting in North Battleford to promote the dam (“water storage alternatives”) and to line-up supporters. They told of “equity interests” that would be available to investors.
– The Terms of Reference for the Feasibility Study were obsolete and unprofessional, highly skewed in favour of the dam. Downstream consequences of a dam were not to be studied.
– First Nations people own land in the River Valley. There were no meetings with them. Their land would go under the water held back by a dam.
– Although it still seems preposterous to me, the Highgate Dam is a water reservoir on the map that details how the diversion of water from Canada to the U.S. is to be accomplished. The water is channeled down from as far north as Lake Athabasca (the Northwest Territories). Red Williams, the President of Agrivision, has been a proponent for the idea since the map was created in 1972. (The proposed Meridian Dam on the South Saskatchewan River which we fought down 7 or 8 years ago is on the same map, as is the actual (controversial) Rafferty-Alameda Dam which sits close to the 49th parallel.)
From Saskatchewan we called for help from people across Canada: Highgate – a process whereby responsibility for decisions around water are transferred out of Government hands creates a very dangerous precedent.
There was great response nationally and locally. Officials and authorities in water and climate change challenged the Government of Saskatchewan (NDP at the time) through various channels.
A stalwart group of local people have organized their own information meetings, have made it impossible for those who are conducting “the study” to do so without public involvement, expectations, and so on.
THE GOVERNMENT IS NOW CHANGED
As of November, 2007 the conservative Saskatchewan Party is the elected majority Government. The change in government means we are basically starting over.
ORGANIZING IS AGAIN UNDERWAY FOR THE PROPOSED MERIDIAN DAM
A young man from Empress AB phoned a while back. People had come to Empress selling $20 memberships in a project, the proposed Meridian Dam (again!). This young man already had the determination to fight; now he is armed with information collected by our network. Kevin from Edmonton later sent in the same news: the Meridian Dam idea is again up and running.
MAYBE WE CAN KILL TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE ?!
If there is sufficient – overwhelming – public participation created by the Maidstone Meeting on February 27th, the new Government will learn what we have learned about water.
Persons who have current information know the problems with large dams in the U.S. and around the world. The same problems. Countries are de-commissioning dams at large public expense. We can learn from the mistakes of others and leapfrog over them.
Actually, ANY citizen who has seen a cost-benefit analysis on a dam should be outraged that their tax-dollars would be used for such boondoggles. IF these dams proceed, it will be people from across Canada who foot the bill.
There aren’t enough rich Saskatchewanians to pay for them!
For now, let’s get the information to as many people as possible, get as many people out as possible. Following the meeting would be a time to call the next step.
The much- anticipated water storage feasibility study has been completed.
The results will be presented at a public meeting on February 27th at 7:00pm CST in Maidstone. The study will address water storage alternatives, with particular focus on the alternatives studied in phase 2: the Highgate Dam and a weir system. If you are interested in this project then I strongly urge you to attend this meeting, as there will be only one.
Please see the press release below, and forward to anyone who may be interested.
D. Ryan Bater, Ec. D.
Battlefords Regional Economic Development Authority
1202- 101st Street
North Battleford, SK
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 12, 2008
Public Meeting scheduled for water storage feasibility study results
The second phase of the North Saskatchewan Water Supply Feasibility Study to investigate surface water storage alternatives on the North Saskatchewan River in Northwest Saskatchewan has been completed, the North Sask River Water Resource Committee (NSRWRC) announced today.
The results of the study will be presented to the public at a public meeting at 7:00pm CST on February 27th at the Legion Hall in Maidstone, SK.
The first phase of the study was a scoping study to identify and assess water development alternatives and water use options for large scale development in the region. These alternatives include (1) no investment in infrastructure (status quo), (2) non- structural investments to develop the water resource with no storage, (3) the Highgate Dam, and (4) off- channel storage options.
In the second phase, the NSRWRC chose to further investigate on- stream storage options including the Highgate Dam and the development of a fifth option: a weir system.
The Canada Saskatchewan Water Supply Expansion Program has committed to contributing 90% of the cost of the study. The remaining 10% has been contributed by municipalities and organizations in Northwest Saskatchewan and Northeast Alberta.
For more information contact:
Steve McKechnie, Chairperson
North Sask River Water Resource Committee
D. Ryan Bater, General Manager