Annual Report 2016-2017

John A. Ross

Without water, we wouldn’t be able to live and prosper. Our Milk River watershed is an area where water can be scarce at times and abundant at others. We often take our river for granted, knowing that it will always be there – but that might not always be the case.

Since the Boundary Waters Treaty was signed in 1909 and the subsequent building of the diversion to transport water from the St. Mary’s River to the Milk River shortly after, we have been blessed with a much more stable river than previously. We don’t think about it, but we rely on this aging diversion to provide water for people, livestock, and wildlife including aquatic habitat, irrigation, industry and recreation. If the system fails catastrophically, we would all be exposed to the actual river as it used to be – more of a seasonal river, which at times would dry up completely in summer and freeze up completely in winter.

We need to work more closely with our friends to the south to ensure sustained delivery of water like we have been used to over the past 115 years. All the components of the diversion need work, which includes the actual diversion, the inverted syphons and the diversion canal that eventually delivers water into the Milk River from the St. Mary’s. The system needs a lot of re-engineering and funds to bring it back to a reliable system for the future of our watershed.

Should the American diversion system fail, it would be critical that we have a dam in place to store the spring run-off for use during the year, although in some years this would still not be enough. We have learned to live and take for granted that the diversion will continue to work as it has for over 100 years. Education, collaboration and adequate funding are vital to the success of the diversion.

We are continuing with our Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program, intended for riparian restoration projects for residents within our watershed. We continue to hold educational tours for the public.

We couldn’t accomplish any of this without our staff; Tim Romanow, Executive Director; Mary Lupwayi, Program Coordinator; and Kandra Forbes, our new Educational Outreach Coordinator.

On behalf of the MRWCC Board of Directors, we hope to see you at our 12th Annual General Meeting in Milk River on May 25th, 2017.

Categories: Annual Reports