The Quill Lakes Watershed is withdrawing its current construction proposal of the Common Ground Flood Mitigation Project.
The proposal was designed to be constructed before the spring of 2018 run-off. The Associations Board feels that there isn’t enough time left to acquire the appropriate studies and requirements to be granted approval by our spring construction deadline.
The Association will continue to seek a managed solution to protect or minimize future damages due to flooding, and follow all necessary regulatory steps.
Kerry Holderness, Chair
Quill Lakes Watershed Association
The Quill Lakes Watershed Association’s Phase One
Phase One was developed and presented as a stand-alone preliminary procedure designed to take advantage of the dry conditions created in 2017. The area in the Phase One proposal is the last remaining dry area in the Quill Lakes overflow channel. Although there is a significant amount of Salinity in the isolated area, preliminary engineering estimates suggested the small volumes of water to be moved would have a minimal impact on Last Mountain Lake, and would provide valuable research and modeling strategies needed to protect downstream interests in a larger flooding event.
The attempt to perform works within the last remaining dry portion of the basin before it flooded, would have caused the least environmental impact on the immediate area, in regards to erosion and damages to sensitive surroundings. A timely construction would have provided the least damage to affected land, private landowners and crown properties, and if it could have been done prior to flooding, it would also save valuable time, and significant taxpayers dollars.
It was never designed, nor applied for, to act as a means for solving the Quill Lakes Flood Disaster, and no direct waters from the Quill Lakes would have been released as a result of that project. What it would have accomplished was the ability to reduce the volume of Kutawagan and Pell Lake to prepare for the larger scale Common Ground Project at a later date. The Quill Lakes Flood, not only imperils additional farmland and infrastructure in the Quill Lakes Watershed, without mitigation measures there is a likelihood it will spill into Last Mountain Lake uncontrolled.
What is “Common Ground?”
Through a series of consultation/engagement activities over a number of years, there were common interests that emerged that all stakeholders, both in the Quill Watershed area and the potential downstream recipients of a Quill Lakes Overflow.
All parties that we engaged, expressed the need for protection of property, and environmental impact. The common ground proposal was designed to do just that.
- The downstream does not want an uncontrolled overflow of the Quill Lakes
- The Quill Lakes did not want any more flooding
- Hence the plan to install mitigation measures to slow or stop the rise of the Quill Lakes
- The Downstream does not want harmful impacts on their water quality or fishing resource
- The Quill Lakes wants to prevent further losses of farm land, and protect from salinity damages to surrounding properties
- Hence the plan to divert and manage the best quality waters downstream, and to contain and manage the existing lower quality waters within the Basin.
- The end goal is to prevent any overflow by managing the water levels in the Quill Lakes at a safe level, similar to Last Mountain Lakes, high and low water management goals.
The Status of the Quill Lakes Flood Disaster…
- The Quills have been in an unprecedented, rise in water starting in 2005.
- After a 7 meter rise in just 13 years, the spill level was within .5 meters in the Spring of 2017
- In this overall flooding cycle, there have been three short-cycle events that have caused a meter or more rise in one year, and in 2010-2011 short cycle, there was a 3 meter in just two years
- If the pattern continues, Quill Lakes could Overflow in 2018 or 2019
- Scientific studies suggest a possible wet cycle to last until 2034
- If the wet cycle continues there is a chance of 2-4 maximum outflow scenarios in that time frame.
- The higher the water levels, the more damage to provincial, municipal, infrastructure, private property and additional levels of environmental degradation.
People want an affordable managed solution…
They do not want an uncertain, uncontrolled flooding and/or overflow of the Quill Lakes!
The discussion should not be … IF …we should do something, we need to agree on how, and when do we start!
The wait is over, mitigation measures need to proceed now or accept the consequences.
Nature has and continues to warn us… Global wild swings in weather are escalating, not going away.
The longer it takes to find a solution the more it will cost everyone in Saskatchewan.