Message from the Chairman
John A. Ross
We had a lot of successes in our watershed this past year.
We completed the summary of all the storage studies and engineering reports that had been done going back about
50 years. The summary was released about a year ago to a lot of interest. It showed that On-Stream Storage was
the best solution; and re-affirmed the best location for it.
The On-Stream Storage Project would not only support the irrigators, but also secure the Instream Flow Needs for
fish, flora and fauna throughout the watershed, as well as be able to generate hydro-electricity. Water security for
the towns of Milk River, Coutts & potentially Warner would also be drastically improved. We would work with our
American neighbours to reduce the costs of repairing their diversion structures, which in turn helps us. We’re seeing
less opposition to the building of the On-Stream Storage; due to the win-win situation it would create. The IJC
(International Joint Commission) appears to be looking on it more favourably now as well.
There’ve been several articles in The Western Producer and The Furrow showing the dire state of the St. Mary’s
Diversion Infrastructure. This eventually led Tim, our Executive Director and I to go to Edmonton to make a
presentation to the UCP’s new Southern Alberta Caucus and make a case for the value of Watershed Planning and
Advisory Councils (WPACs) in the Province, and the On-Stream Storage Project. They were very interested in the
Our WRRP (Water Restoration and Resiliency Program) was a huge success with many projects being identified and
completed. The community outreach has been another highlight of the year. People are always looking forward to
Youth Range Days, and the Canoe and Hike Trips we put on. Unfortunately, we had to postpone our Community
Appreciation Meeting and Supper this year due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. We plan to advise if and when the
meeting will be rescheduled once the restrictions are lifted. We are also looking forward to hosting our Science
Forum this fall. Covid-19 has changed the way we live our lives for the present time and probably the future. We
haven’t seen anything like this before. We’ve forgotten the times when Pandemics used to hit the world, like the
Spanish Flu (H1N1) in 1918, that killed tens of millions of people, and the next flu epidemic that followed in 1928-29.
My Dad lost his sister in 1929; she was only 8 years old. I’ve been looking back at some old pictures and it makes
me realize that we are probably doing the right thing, although it feels very foreign.
Like the Pandemics we’ve forgotten that the Milk River used to be more of a seasonal creek; as it existed before the
Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. The construction of the St. Mary’s Diversion changed all that, but now it’s in
incredible disrepair. We may see the Milk River as it used to be; unless we do something about it. We can’t get
Keep safe, follow the rules, and we’ll get back together sooner than later. Please take the time to enjoy your
watershed; it’s a wonderful place.
Good Wishes and Good Health.