Filtration Plant to be built at Devil’s Lake
August 29, 2005
By Canadian Consulting Engineer
Canada and the United States have agreed to jointly design and build a permanent treatment and filtration system at...
Canada and the United States have agreed to jointly design and build a permanent treatment and filtration system at the outlet from Devil’s Lake in North Dakota. A last-minute agreement was reached on August 6 between the U.S. and Canadian governments, after Manitobans and environmentalist continued their outcry against the proposed release of water from the U.S. lake.
Over the past few years, devastating flooding around Devils Lake prompted the town to build the outlet, which will release water into the Sheyenne River, and then ultimately flow north into the Red River System
The concerns were that the diversion would cause environmental damage, not least by allowing harmful microorganisms and aggressive fish to enter the Red River for the first time.
First Nations groups are particularly worried since they represent two thirds of the 32 communities along Lake Winnipeg and hold 80% of the fishing licences in the area. In April, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine travelled to Washington D.C. with Manitoba Premier Gary Doer to lobby the U.S. federal government to prevent completion of the outlet. In their press release they said that the diversion could add 20 tonnes of phosphorous to the Red River and increase mercury levels.
Devil’s Lake have already constructed the $28-million outlet and the water is flowing. The advanced filtration and treatment plant at the outlet won’t be built until Canadian and U.S. scientists have completed studies, including a downstream water monitoring program established by an international joint commission.
In the meantime, a five-metre thick rock and gravel filter has been installed on the outlet as a barrier against fish. Critics point out that it won’t prevent biota and pathogens, or phosphorous and nitrogen migrating into the Red River system.