INTERNATIONAL JOINT COMMISSION ISSUES INTERIM REPORT AND SEEKS COMMENT ON DAMAGING FLOODS IN THE RED RIVER BASIN


Contents

Background
International Red River Basin Task Force
Interim Report
Recommendations
Public Consultations
Further Steps
Points of Contact

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Background

Recognizing the devastation caused in both countries by the 1997 Red River flood, the governments of Canada and the United States asked the International Joint Commission to examine and report on the causes and effects of damaging floods in the basin. The governments requested an interim report by December 1997 identifying measures that could be implemented in the near-term to reduce future flood damages.

International Red River Basin Task Force

To assist with this work, the Commission established an International Red River Basin Task Force. The Task Force consists of Canadian and United States flood experts from a variety of backgrounds in public policy and water resources management. Task Force members serve the Commission in their personal and professional capacities, not as representatives of their agencies or employers.

Interim Report

The Task Force prepared an interim report entitled Red River Flooding-Short Term Measures, dated December 1997. The report presents historical information on floods in the Red River basin and focuses on the flood of 1997. It describes existing flood protection works, emergency structural works and measures taken to prepare for the 1997 flood, and highlights some of the social and environmental impacts of the flood. The report also contains a draft plan of study outlining work remaining to be done by the Commission and Task Force. While recognizing the interim nature of its report, the Task Force makes 40 recommendations that should be acted on in the short-term to ensure better preparedness for the spring of 1998. The Commission fully endorsed the 40 recommendations and presented them to governments in a letter dated December 31, 1997.

Recommendations

The recommendations are directed toward governments at various levels in both countries and address the following issues:

Public Consultations

The Commission and its Task Force will be holding a series of public consultations in the Red River basin during the week of February 9, 1998. The consultations will enable interested groups and individuals to comment on the interim report, the 40 recommendations and the draft plan of study, and to provide views on the flood. Details regarding the locations and times of these public consultations will be issued shortly. Written comments will also be accepted through February 27, 1998, and may be submitted to the addresses listed below. Other opportunities for comment will be provided over the duration of the study.

Further Steps

Following the public consultations, the Commission and Task Force will refine the draft plan of study and pursue further work to address flooding issues. The draft plan of study points to the many issues that will be given further attention and will assist future management of the floodplain, including development of a database, models, and studies. The Commission has proposed submitting its final report to governments by June 30, 1999, to allow time for public consultations and the technical studies required to enhance monitoring networks, flood forecasting, and flow modelling to assist future floodplain management. Throughout the coming year, the Task Force and the Commission will provide opportunities for public input to their studies, and the Commission will hold public hearings prior to submitting its final report to governments. These public hearings will most likely be held in the spring of 1999.

Points of Contact

The Commission's December 31, 1997, letter to the governments and the Interim Report of the Task Force are available at many public libraries in the Red River basin. These two documents, and three reports of studies commissioned by the Task Force, are available on the Commission's internet web site (www.ijc.org), or may be obtained by contacting the Commission's offices.

Public comments are encouraged and should be sent to the following addresses:

International Joint Commission
United States Section
1250 23rd Street, NW
Suite 100
Washington, DC 20440
fax: (202) 736-9015
e-mail: bevacquaf@ijc.org.inter.net
International Joint Commission
Canadian Section
100 Metcalfe Street
18th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1P 5M1
fax: (613) 993-5583
e-mail: trippg@ijc.achilles.net

January 7, 1998