There is so much concern about the government's reckless and ineffective plan to address high water levels in the Quill Lakes that the Opposition New Democrats are calling for the plan to be scrapped entirely before the government causes irreparable harm.
The government is planning to divert water flow from Kutawagan Creek into Last Mountain Lake, mixing salt water and freshwater, putting world-class fish spawning grounds, lakes and rivers at risk. Even the government’s own data shows that the salt water which it plans to divert has a fish-killing salinity level. The Last Mountain Lake Stewardship Group notes, “it will discharge the highest concentrations of saline water and pollutants downstream to Last Mountain Lake, when compared to the other diversion options.”
Despite the significant risk associated with the plan, the government's Water Security Agency admits this plan won't even be effective at addressing the water levels in the Quill Lakes, which have risen an alarming 22 feet over the past ten years. The Water Security Agency says, if the planned diversion had been in place over that period of time, the water level would still have risen at least 21 feet.
"It's bad enough that the Sask. Party government's plan puts so much at risk, including highly valuable natural resources, fish, wildlife, biodiversity and tourism. But it's especially appalling that their plan is so incredibly ineffective," said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. "The government needs to shelve this reckless plan and work with experts and local leaders to develop a plan that will actually fix the problem, without creating a whole bunch of new problems and causing irreparable devastation."
The Sask. Party government is even attempting to avoid an environmental assessment of its plan, a move which the NDP strongly opposes.
"How does it make any sense for this government to just plow ahead with a diversion of contaminated salt water into freshwater without a proper environmental assessment? This river basin and chain of lakes is a beautiful provincial asset, from Last Mountain through the Qu'Appelle River Basin and to the Calling Lakes -- Katepwa, Mission, Echo and Pasqua -- and lakes beyond, Crooked and Round. Making major environmental changes without good science is gambling with the region's economy, private properties, agricultural lands, environment and wildlife," said Wotherspoon. "Urgent action is needed. Many of us have been pushing for that for well over a year while this government has dragged their feet. But it has to be truly effective action, based on the best science."