Souris River Board, Public Discuss Water Quantity and Quality

IJC staff
September 04, 2013

The International Souris River Board holds public meetings at least once a year to meet and talk with basin residents and other interested citizens.

This year’s meeting, on Aug. 7, in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, focused on Board activities and objectives related to water management in the Souris River basin.

Board members fielded questions from attendees and discussed current issues in the basin --- from drought to flooding, ecosystem health, and water apportionment.

The Souris River is 435 miles long, and drains more than 23,000 square miles. Under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, the Board is responsible for compliance with apportionment measures for the waters of the Souris River, to investigate and report on water requirements and uses as they impact the transboundary waters of the Souris River basin, and to assist in the implementation of the 1989 Canada-United States Agreement for Water Supply and Flood Control in the Souris River basin.

There are three committees that support the Board to fulfill its mandate:

  • An Aquatic Ecosystem Health Committee (AEHC), which reports on water quality and aquatic ecosystem health in the basin;
  • A Hydrology Committee (HC), which is involved in the determination of natural flows, investigation of developments that may affect water availability, and conducting hydrologic studies;
  • A Flow Forecasting and Liaison Committee (FFLC), which is responsible for alerting the Board to activities and development that may affect flow forecasting and flooding.

Past and present water quantity and quality issues were a topic at the meeting, and addressing these items continues to be a priority for Board members.

The Souris River Basin. Credit: USGSThe Souris River basin. Credit: USGS.

Under water quantity, apportionment measures between Canada and the United States for the 2013 spring period were met, and the operation of Rafferty and Alameda reservoirs were reviewed to ensure water supply and flood protection objectives were satisfied.

After a major flood event in 2011, the Board established a Task Force and completed a Plan of Study (POS), with recommendations submitted to the IJC for funding. The POS describes studies needed to review the operation of reservoirs covered by the 1989 Agreement, and considers additional structural and non-structural measures to reduce flooding impacts and improve water supply in the basin.

Under water quality, monitoring programs for sites in Sherwood and Westhope indicate exceedances of IJC-established objectives for some selected parameters, including phosphorus. The Aquatic Ecosystem Health Committee is working to determine the causes for these exceedances.

More information on the International Souris River Board is available on its website.

IJC staff