Provincial and Federal NDP Call on Government to Refer North Dakota Water Projects to International Commission for Review

August 31, 2017

NDP MLA Rob Altemeyer and NDP MP Daniel Blaikie joined forces today after learning two potentially dangerous water diversion projects in North Dakota have not been referred to the International Joint Commission (IJC) for review.

“North Dakota is proceeding unilaterally with two water diversion projects that could cause significant harm to Manitoba’s waterways and Lake Winnipeg, yet no one in government has referred either project to the International Joint Commission for review,” said Altemeyer, MLA for Wolseley and Manitoba NDP Environment Critic. “I call on Premier Pallister today to contact the Prime Minister immediately to ensure the review process with the IJC is launched as quickly as possible.”

“The Trudeau government must step in to ensure these projects receive the full scrutiny of the Canadian and US governments,” said Blaikie, the MP for Elmwood-Transcona and the NDP’s national caucus chair. “Lake Winnipeg is already in distress and there’s real concern that the North Dakota projects will increase the risk of contaminants and foreign species entering Lake Winnipeg via the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.” he added. “The IJC has the authority to review these projects but political leadership is needed.”

Blaikie also announced he is the sponsoring MP of an official House of Commons petition calling on the Trudeau government to refer both projects to the IJC for immediate review. The petition is available at https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-1244. “I invite everyone concerned about the health of our water to sign the petition,” said Blaikie. “The Trudeau government has a duty to protect all of Canada’s waterways. Manitobans need to know their federal government will not stand by and watch while these projects go forward without guaranteed protection for our rivers and lakes.”

The Northwest Area Water Supply Project would carry water from the Missouri River to the northwest region of North Dakota, then into Manitoba and the Assiniboine River. The second diversion, called the Red River Valley Water Supply Project, would carry water to the eastern region of the state and into the Red River. The Missouri River water from both projects would ultimately flow through The Forks where today’s announcement was held, and then head north into Lake Winnipeg.

The IJC is guided by the Boundary Waters Treaty and resolves disputes whenever the actions of one country affect waterways in the other. The commission is composed of experts from both countries and has the authority to issue orders of approval and to study and recommend solutions on projects that affect trans-boundary waters.