Souris River Study Brings Bright Minds to the Table

February 04, 2019
white tree souris river study meeting

Well into its three-year study, the International Souris River Study Board is advancing in its work to recommend flood protection and water supply measures beyond those of the 1989 flood control and water supply agreement between Canada and the United States.

Gaining a better understanding of flooding, and water supply and other beneficial water uses in the basin involves reviewing operating rules, and collecting and analyzing alternative operating scenarios with the help of various models.

tree usfws
Credit: Colette Guariglia/USFWS

In addition to its core group of science and policy experts from Canada and the United States, the study board is relying on input from a handful of advisory bodies as it develops this broad scope of work.

A Public Advisory Group, Resource Agency Advisory Group, Climate Advisory Group and Independent Review Group all play important roles in ensuring high quality and credible outcomes at the conclusion of the study. The groups are made up of individuals from both countries who bring a variety of relevant personal, community and professional perspectives to the study. Membership information is posted on the study’s web page.

“As with most rigorous scientific processes, the board will incorporate a peer review and will make data accessible for agencies and members of the public on both sides of the border throughout the study,” said Dr. Bruce Davison, Canadian study manager, and hydrologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

“This is important so that at the end of the day, the recommendations of the board are both feasible and represent the perspectives of people who live and work in the basin.”  

The Public Advisory Group and Resource Agency Advisory Group have dual roles.

Members are tasked with bringing forward perspectives from public, agency and industry interests, and communicating study progress to those broader networks.  

For instance, both advisory groups are collecting input to be used in the development of performance indicators—measures of how society, the economy and the environment could be affected by a change in water levels. Performance indicators are used in computer models that test various operating scenarios.

Other groups that will contribute to a quality assurance process at key points in the study are a Climate Advisory Group, Independent Review Group and representatives of First Nations, Métis and Tribes.

The Public Advisory Group plays a major role in creating opportunities for public participation in the study, through social media posts, fact sheets and other plain language communication products, and public meetings.

The next public meeting will take place in Brandon, Manitoba, on February 19. Registration is being taken online.

“Everyone who lives in the watershed is affected by floods and droughts, and has a stake in how the dams and reservoirs in both countries are operated,” said Gregg Wiche, US study manager, and district chief at the US Geological Survey in Bismarck, North Dakota.

“We encourage everyone to come out to meet members of the study board in Brandon and hear about the work we’re doing in the basin.”

You may visit the study web page and sign up to receive news, such as notices of public meetings, consultations, reports and other publications.