TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Deerboine Hutterite Colony secretary Mel Hofer wades through a field of barley that is waist deep in water from the flooding Assiniboine River to check out the damage to the crop recently.
The City of Brandon and Assiniboine Valley Producers didn’t see eye-to-eye at the most recent Shellmouth Reservoir Regulation Liaison Committee teleconference held on Tuesday.
Stan Cochrane, who represents AVP on the committee, wants to see the water released naturally over the spillway so fewer farmers near the dam are affected by the amount of water being released.
"Our position was that it should go down naturally to the spillway until it gets to 1,600 cfs, then maintain that number," Cochrane said. "We don’t want to let more water go because the guys up near the dam will be flooded out until September and then the grass won’t get a chance to grow again."
Cochrane, like many producers in the valley, is still angry at the provincial government, believing much of the flooding that destroyed more than 40,000 acres was artificial and could have been prevented if more water was released from the Shellmouth Reservoir in the spring.
"The government made the problem," Cochrane said about the flooding, adding that Agriculture Minister Ron Kostyshyn toured the area to see the flooding.
"We said it’s non-negotiable on the amount of water being let go until they start talking to us about compensation for these people," Cochrane said.
"You’re not going to dump any more water on them."
Ted Snure, general manager of development services and the city’s representative on the liaison committee, believes bringing the water in the Shellmouth Reservoir down below the spillway faster will allow the dam to be used to its full capacity.
"The City of Brandon was contrary to (the AVP’s) view that we should let things run the way they are because there is an opportunity to get the dam under control and allow for the additional rains to be put in storage," Snure said.
"Our position was that the reservoir needs to be brought down quicker rather than longer," Snure said. "The purpose is to allow the spillway to be under control and allow storage for summer storms we’re going to have from now until September. Then, the reservoir can be used for what it is designed to do and that is to take those storms into storage and you have better control over discharges into the river."
Rains in the area have caused more inflow into the reservoir than the outflow can keep up with, according to Snure, meaning every day of precipitation is adding additional days to the timeline of when the water can be reduced below the spillway at the dam.
"When you add another rain, it’s another day that it will take to get below the spillway," Snure said. "We feel the proper way to operate it is to bring it back below the spillway and get it under control as quickly as we can by keeping the flows up a little higher."
The issue of the flooding that has yellowed crops along the Assiniboine River, was discussed by Keystone Agricultural Producers president Doug Chorney at KAP’s meeting in Brandon yesterday.
"Producers feel they are not being compensated adequately and unfortunately they have a track record of experience of being flooded artificially," Chorney said.
"There is a lot of competing interests for the water. There is a need for water storage and KAP isn’t opposed to helping those producers (who need the water further downstream) but we can’t continue to sacrifice the farmer in the Assiniboine Valley for the sake of providing water for other sources."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 20, 2012