Government handling of the Quill Lakes raises red flags: NDP

The Opposition joins residents south of the Quill Lakes in expressing serious concerns about how the provincial government is handling high water in danger of damaging farmland, and the government proposal to divert salt water into Last Mountain Lake.

The government’s Water Security Agency showed up to a meeting with local leaders last week and presented only one option to address the situation – diverting water inflow from Kutawagan Creek to Last Mountain Lake. Despite the potential environmental danger of diverting salt water into a fresh water lake, the government says it may skip the important environmental assessment.

NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon said there are red flags all over the government’s moves on this.

“First, withholding options and presenting only the cheapest one to the people affected is a poor way to work with a communities,” said Wotherspoon. “We want all options on the table for the affected communities to consider and ensure the best option is chosen.

“And, secondly, it’s just blatantly reckless to plow ahead with a diversion of salt water into a freshwater lake without a proper environmental assessment. We are talking about a beautiful provincial asset in this lake chain – from Last Mountain Lake through the Qu’appelle watershed to the Calling Lakes - Katepwa, Mission, Echo and Pasqua, and lakes beyond. Making major environmental changes without good science is gambling with the region’s economy, private properties, agricultural lands, environment and wildlife.”

NDP MLAs have been directly asking the government to address the record-high water levels in the Quill Lakes for over a year, through formal letters and in the Legislative Assembly. On Aug. 14, 2014, Cathy Sproule, the NDP critic for the Environment, wrote to ministers Scott Moe and Jim Reiter, urging them to “take measures to address these potentially dangerous water levels before it is too late,” and calling on the province to partner with municipalities.  The NDP has also raised the specific concern of diverting salt water into Last Mountain Lake.

“For the Sask. Party to now say they don’t have time for an environmental impact assessment is absolute nonsense,” said Wotherspoon. “We have been discussing this problem for a year or more. In the meantime, they’ve been sitting on their hands while homeowners, farmers and community leaders have repeatedly asked for help.”