Sunday, May 31, 2009

A brewing water war between the US and Canada

Globe and Mail (Toronto): A punishing drought, which gave the State of Washington a grim warning about what the future might look like with global warming, has led to a U.S. dam proposal that threatens to drown a British Columbia valley. The Shanker's Bend project, proposed by the Okanogan County Public Utility District, would dam the Similkameen River just a few kilometres south of the B.C. border.

The project would provide increased water storage and hydro generation for the town of Oroville, in north central Washington, but it would also back up water deep into the Similkameen Valley – flooding the habitat of endangered species in an area that has been proposed as a national park.

The impoundment would provide more water in a dry B.C. valley where organic orchards and vineyards have flourished only because of irrigation, but water levels would fluctuate to suit demands south of the border, not to meet Canadian needs. “This project can't go ahead,” says Chloe O'Loughlin, executive director of the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, who sees nothing positive in the proposal.

“Whatever happens, there are no benefits to Canada in this project. It threatens one of the three most endangered ecosystems in Canada … [and] when that impoundment is drawn down we will be left looking at extensive mud flats,” said Ms. O'Loughlin, whose organization has been leading opposition to the project…..

In a different spot, Washington's Ross Dam on the Skagit River under construction.

No comments: