MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN
John A. Ross
Water Security remains high on our agenda. Once again, the irrigators from the Milk River were faced with the risk of shutting off their much-needed water last year as Montana was unable to move sufficient water from the St Mary River to offset late summer deficits on the Milk River. After meetings with our government representatives, challenges were averted, with an improved understanding and working relationship with Federal water officers in both countries. During the first meeting it was determined that we needed to better understand and summarize previous water supply and storage studies in the Milk River basin undertaken over the last 50 years in order to proceed with transparency of the costs and benefits when discussing long term and challenging solutions.
On-stream storage would not only support licensed irrigators, but also secure the instream flow needs for fish, flora and fauna and generate hydroelectricity. It would also provide more water security for our community. Storage will help us to work more closely with our American neighbours to reduce the cost of repairing their diversion structures and reduce sedimentation in the Fresno Dam. We have produced a summary that is available in the MRWCC office or on our website.
Last August, the Twin River Heritage Rangeland expansion and re-designation project first proposed within the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan, was suddenly being pushed through consultation after a three-year hiatus, with some concerns not being fully addressed. The Council supports the notion of the re-designation and expansion but would like to have it done in a more methodical way with a full management plan in place by a local committee before it proceeds.
We participated in a film project by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation to support Sustainable Agriculture and Sustainable Communities and a healthy environment. Ross Ford and I were also interviewed for the Milk River Watershed Alliance’s film project to help support funding for an upgrade of the diversion in Montana, and better understand the physical workings of our watershed. Both films will be available on our website.
We hosted another successful Community Appreciation Forum in the spring as well as our Science Forum in the fall, with great speakers and interesting topics. Youth Range Days continues to be a popular and successful program. Our hiking and canoe tours are also very popular ways of getting to know our watershed. We are looking forward to working with the new government, and having another exciting year.