MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN
John A. Ross
This past year was challenging for the MRWCC. Water security was tested as favorable spring conditions and an early thaw resulted in localized flooding on the Montana Highline communities. A full Fresno reservoir meant Montana could not accumulate a deficit of water with Alberta and the letter of intent that allows Alberta to balance needs with Montana water later in the season was pulled from us. August 3rd, 2017 all water users were shut off, at critical stages for crops and irrigated forage.
We know we need storage on the Milk River in Alberta, the „flash drought‟ this past summer highlighted how vulnerable we are on both sides of the border. Storage will guarantee water security for Milk River, Coutts, Sweetgrass, and many outlaying residents/water coops and secure proper in-stream flow needs for fish and other wildlife. It will also gain the potential for Clean Hydro generation and help mitigate potential flood and bank scour events. Most importantly, it will secure the economics in our watershed because without water there will be no wild life or people.
Our Montana neighbours continued to reach out and support a transboundary approach to watershed management. This past year, with Fresno 50% silted in, their 5 communities and 93,000 acres of irrigation in many ways were just as vulnerable. Working together on a joint project could lessen the cost of diversion repairs and come up with a joint strategy to replace aging infrastructure on the St Mary‟s River. Our Government won‟t help, but we will help the Milk River Watershed Alliance build support where appropriate, as we had our Member of Parliament Glen Motz down with 100 delegates from Montana to tour infrastructure this past June.