Next for the Souris River Study: More Public Participation

June 13, 2018
Floodwaters recede from railroad tracks in Sawyer, North Dakota

Flood prevention, water management and agricultural interests were popular topics during a recent public meeting and consultation on the draft Work Plan of the International Souris River Study Board (ISRSB).

Held Feb. 20 in Minot, North Dakota, the meeting attracted about 50 participants as well as local media. Seven people submitted comments during the online consultation between Feb. 12 and March 12, 2018.

A summary of public concerns on the impacts of water levels are captured in the PAG’s recent report, ”Public Perceptions in the Souris River Basin.” 

Flood waters recede from railroad tracks in Sawyer, North Dakota. Credit: Jeff DeZellar, St. Paul District US Army Corps of Engineers
Flood waters recede from railroad tracks in Sawyer, North Dakota. Credit: Jeff DeZellar, St. Paul District US Army Corps of Engineers

Ongoing public participation and input is encouraged throughout the study through its Public Advisory Group (PAG). With representation from Canada and the United States, this group advises the study board on public consultation, opportunities for public involvement and the responsiveness of the study process to public concerns.  The PAG also will help inform the public about study board activities.

“It’s important that the public has an active and ongoing voice in this study,” said Debbie McMechan, Canadian co-chair of the Public Advisory Group.

“We’re interested in hearing from the people in the Souris River basin, whether it’s through public meetings, email, or during public meetings and consultations. Learn more, get involved and stay connected.”  

David O’Connell, the advisory group’s US co-chair added, “Our members use their collective knowledge of water management issues in the Souris River basin to bring diverse perspectives on impacts, results and outcomes of Study Board activities. These will ultimately enhance the recommendations the study board will submit to the IJC in its final report in 2020.”

There will be more opportunities for public participation when the ISRSB holds its next public meeting on June 25, 2018, in Estevan, Saskatchewan. Watch for details on thestudy board website, where you also may subscribe to emailed updates. 

The IJC set up the study board last year in response to requests from the Canadian and US governments to examine and report on flooding and water supply in the Souris River basin.

The draft Work Plan sets out such tasks as clarifying language in the operating rules of the 1989 International Agreement, improving understanding of water levels in the Souris River basin, and recommending potential measures to reduce risks of flooding and address other water management uses.