Jul 092007

TO:  Golder & Assoc.  Engineering Co.   re Proposed Highgate Dam, Battlefords, North Sask River

Subject: Last one: High Gate: sent to Golder (7)

Dear Phil,

There needs to be acknowledgement and assessment of the associated increase in chemical (pesticide) load on the river from run-off,  whenever more irrigation is being promoted.

I sent the following email into my network today. It includes a newspaper report from Lloydminster last year. People are getting increasingly nervous about the chemicals we are putting into land, water, air, and food.

(sign off deleted)



China is slammed for selling poisoned food to us.

2007-07-06 China’s foul waters, Washington Post Foreign Service

Some of it is fish.

Source of the problem:

The fish are being raised in a country whose waterways are an ongoing environmental problem, tainted by sewage, pesticides, heavy metals and other pollutants.”

How is it that we say “tut, tut” or “stupid, stupid”, or “outrage” to the Chinese, but we don’t see a parallel situation here in our waterways?  It’s “there”, never “here”.

The story of the St Clair River from Sarnia-Windsor ON, and anecdotal information about fish in the North Saskatchewan River, both with petro-chemical industries on their shores, both with

sewage, pesticides, heavy metals and other pollutants

tell me what I remind my children: when you criticize someone else, usually it is yourself that you see in them.

Exactly where will edible fish come from?  There are serious questions to be answered.

A person from Lloydminster told me that fishermen catch deformed fish in the North Saskatchewan River. So they won’t eat the fish they catch. From the Lloydminster Meridian Booster 17 Mar 2006:

2006-03-17 Water: Put it in upstream. It’s there downstream. Lloydminster

… the City of Lloydminster released its annual drinking water quality notice to consumers, which revealed trace elements of chemicals like arsenic, Malathion, pesticide 2,4-D and Picloram herbicide. Although the amounts appear to be well below government limits, Lloydminster alderman Duff Stewart holds concerns about the long-term impacts those potentially harmful chemicals could have. 

“When we’re pulling in things like 2,4-D we should be wondering where it’s coming from. Maybe it’s Edmonton, maybe it’s Vermilion,” Stewart said.

“Maybe we have to start looking at a lot of the things we’re ingesting, whether it’s water, our meat or whatever. …”

Do we have programmes to determine whether the anecdotal information about deformed fish in the River have a factual basis? … we spend $370,000.00 to see whether we should build a large dam on the River (the High Gate Dam near North Battleford), when it’s known that large dams are a large boondoggle.

Why shouldn’t indigenous and other people who live in North Battleford be able to feed themselves from the fish in the River? Why should they, like the people in the Arctic, have to eat imported (certainly substandard) food because the local fish are too contaminated to be health-giving?

The situation with the rivers is not good “now”. What will it be like “then”, when our grandchildren need the water? If the imported food is unreliable because the waterways in other countries are polluted or fished out, where will edible fish come from? … “then”.


We have to “get” the connections, to see. If I can put the information from our network together effectively, we can arm more people with the realization that their help is necessary. It is critical that they pass information along, and some of us have to take action.

The expansion of the Tar Sands will exceed the capacity of the Athabasca River to supply the needed water. More refineries will be built on the North Saskatchewan River.

Transfer what we know about regulation of the tar sands insofar as air quality is affected, to water quality. Decide whether we should sit back, content that the Governments are doing their job of protecting the water source.

(For newcomers re air quality.)  I questioned scientists at the Saskatchewan Research Council to understand how it can be that, in today’s world, we are allowing so much sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions from the tar sands that, downwind in northern Saskatchewan, the land is already past critical load limits from acid rain, in some places. The scientist who has monitored the lakes since the early 1980’s when they were perfectly fine, said that today, “The lakes are dying”.

As I understand, the way we allow the destruction is that the regulations apply to individual operations. We don’t regulate based on OUTCOME (the lakes are dying). We don’t consider CUMULATIVE effects.

The officials are satisfied because there are tight regulations, with independent third party corroboration of the integrity of the monitoring equipment. So everything is alright. BUT the lakes and rivers are dying under the current regulations. This isn’t seen as a cause for immediate action to change the regulatory system. It seems to me a no-brainer. We need immediate changes in order to halt what isn’t right or smart.

Effective regulations mean that what was healthy in 1980 would still be healthy today. If not, the Government simply hasn’t done its job.

It is essential that we know the information in the new documentary from the Aamjiwnaang First Nation. Aamjiwnaang sits adjacent to the Suncor refinery (petro-chemical industry) in Sarnia on the St Clair River. We can use the documentary to inform ourselves here in the West. There are a number of other “same story”‘s about the industrial poisoning of rivers and lakes.

Ideally, we would make a collection of them. Does our situation here, today, lead to a different outcome for our river and our health? And if not, why don’t we draw the line now? Stop the destruction now.

Email #2 in this series is the Aamjiwnaang story. In case it’s not enough, or in case it’s “there” in Ontario and not “here” in the West, in case we can’t see our own belly button, a reminder of the story of Dr. John O’Connor with the high cancer rates in a community on Lake Athabasca in Alberta.

Refer to email TARSANDS: Backlash against a whistle-blower Globe & Mail, by Andrew Nikiforuk Sent May 22, 2007.


Email #3 is an effort to get the people behind the High Gate dam proposal to transfer their energies from the dam, to securing a long-term supply of water that gives them health. If indeed there are deformed fish in the River, they should know and be taking corrective action now. There are reasons for escalating rates of some cancers. We have to go outside our communities to work aggressively and hard with other communities.

We are working on the tar sands/nuclear issue. These emails are about a River. It’s about mobilizing people to protect their water source, hopefully BEFORE it’s too late. The unregulated expansion of the tar sands and nuclear agenda in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan is a threat to the River.

The evidence is clear from the Aamjiwnaang that Suncor and the other corporations will not be regulated such that the rivers and lakes continue to give us health. In addition to the water issue, we know that the tar sands development means Canada is contributing an unconscionable amount to green house gas production. We must add more people and organizations to our networks. Those who depend on the River for their water, and understand the threat, are likely allies for the tar sands/nuclear issue.


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