In this 2013 photo, flood waters wreck havoc along a gravel road in the RM of Edward. The RM is currently under a declared state of emergency after 40 miles of roads within the municipality have been closed due to water draining out of Saskatchewan.
The RM of Edward has declared a state of emergency after 40 miles of roads within the municipality have been closed due to water.
The municipality in the southwest corner of Manitoba borders both Saskatchewan and North Dakota. Reeve Ralph Wang said he expects the state of emergency to last at least two weeks.
Much of the problem stems from water draining out of Saskatchewan according to Wang and Ward 2 councillor Debbie McMechan.
"There are laws about water draining in Manitoba that we have to follow that are different in Saskatchewan," McMechan said. "This has turned our RM into a watery ghetto causing infrastructure damage within the RM and it’s become a safety problem."
McMechan said the council is concerned that in cases of emergencies, the ambulance and other response teams would not be able to make it down the roads. They have notified Prairie Mountain Health about the issues.
Along with safety concerns, McMechan said the committee is worried about the economic impact this is causing on the agriculture and oil industries.
She estimates that the farm land in the RM of Edward remains 90 to 95 per cent unseeded due to the wet conditions. McMechan said she knows some farmers that have not been able to put in a crop in three years.
"Farmers are a hardy bunch of people, but if this continues it is an economic inevitability that they will have to do something," McMechan said.
Economic setbacks are likely to be seen by oil companies in the area due to travel restrictions.
"We have effectively shut down the oil industry within the RM," McMechan said. "The trucks and heavy machinery are causing more damage to the road and we received a lot of complaints from residents."
The Manitoba government has been contacted about the ongoing issues within the area, but has not made any effort to do something, McMechan said. Opposition leader Brian Pallister and agriculture critic Blain Pederson met with residents over the weekend.
"They really listened to what people here were concerned about," McMechan said. "We are dealing with people’s livelihood and that is something the government should be concerned about."
McMechan is concerned that if some type of interprovincial body is not able to deal with the issues of water draining between provinces, it is likely that this will continue to be an annual issue for the RM.
The municipal council has a meeting set for tomorrow to discuss what needs to be done for the safety of their residents at this point in time.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 9, 2014