7.18.2005

border skirmish

We don't want your beef, but will you take our disgusting, polluted water?

Long-time wmtc readers may remember my friend Alan With One L, also known as The Handheld Evangelist, the man who turned me on to the joys of iPAQ. (Isn't she beautiful? I am still in love.)

Alan has alerted me to yet another US-Canada border war.
Canadians often get angry when the United States throws up barriers to their exports, such as cattle or softwood. But now Canada is desperate to block an unwanted American product. Officials are meeting their counterparts in Washington, DC, to try to stop the state of North Dakota from draining the polluted waters of Devil's Lake into their own Lake Winnipeg. Undeterred, the authorities of North Dakota plan to let the waters flow when a channel is completed later this month.

Devil's Lake lies about 160km (100 miles) south of the Canadian border. It has no natural outlet, shedding water solely through evaporation. But a recent series of wet years have swollen the lake to record levels, submerging 28,000 hectares (69,000 acres) of farmland and 300 homes. In 2003, the United States Army Corps of Engineers published a feasibility study for a $186m project (of which North Dakota would have paid $70m) to drain the lake into the Sheyenne river. This feeds into the Red river, which flows north across the border to Lake Winnipeg, in the province of Manitoba.

Manitoba immediately objected. With no outlet, Devil's Lake has accumulated high concentrations of sulphates, arsenic, phosphorus and other pollutants. Canadians also worry that the outflow could bring invasive species, parasites and disease to Lake Winnipeg's C$25m ($20m) fishery industry.
Story from The Economist here.

By the way, the US ban on Canadian beef was just overturned. Which is not to say that beef for dirty water constitutes fair trade.

10 comments:

James said...

Meanwhile, one of the other things Canadians are desperate to stop are the various plans proposed to divert Canadian water down into the central US, to help irrigate Arizona, New Mexico, etc.

You'd think it'd be simpler to not poison your own water and use it...

And, of course, the Las Vegas hotel water displays are always well supplied, even if the rest of the area needs to import their water from out-country...

Anonymous said...

I don't know how people can think this is a good idea. Any body with half a brain knows that the transfer of water between basins is a terrible thing... and in fact is illegal in Canada. This prevents the spread of bacteria and keeps ecosystems in balance. No one can predict the long term effect of moving water around on local climate and the flora and fauna in the area. Just some more short sighted thinking... and caring more about your vacation home then the ecosystem.

Peter

RobfromAlberta said...

By the way, we Canadians shouldn't be too sanctimonious about this. Toronto has, for years, been shipping its solid waste to a landfill in Michigan. Why Michigan accepts this is a mystery to me. I suspect the NAFTA agreement ties their hands.

L-girl said...

Does Michigan get paid for it? Many US municipalities raise revenue by accepting other cities' trash. A sorry state of affairs.

RobfromAlberta said...

Someone gets paid for it, whoever owns the land, I suppose.

James said...

The difference with the Michigan landfill business is that the waste is shipped to an actual landfill -- a place designed to accept and contain waste. This story would be more akin to if Toronto shipped its waste to Ann Arbor and dumped it all over downtown -- and any nearby State or National Parks.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

It's a real battle in Michigan. The land owners are making money, which is why Michigan accepts it. People who live nearby hate it, so they've been trying (unsuccessfully) to get the Michigan government to ban it.

Unfortunately, nobody wants Toronto's trash. Toronto tried to get someone to take it in Northern Ontario, but with no luck.

NYC must have difficulties finding landfill space as well. What do they do?

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

I suppose NYC could be really bad, and just tow it out to sea and dump it...

Slim Bacon said...

Yeah that Toronto/Michigan garbage deal is a legitimate deal between two countries. I am pretty sure they are getting a nice cash payment for it. There is from time to time news coverage of it here in Windsor. This dumping of foreign (polluted) waters is illegal but sadly i fear nothing is going to stop the US from doing this.

It's time for the federal government to wake up and start acting. There should be some serious action taken against the US. Raise tarriffs, reduce dependency on American trade. I mean....China is right accross that ocean. Im sure they would take our exports without a fuss.

L-girl said...

I can't participate in this discussion today, but I must tell you NYC does NOT dump its trash in the ocean!

It's a huge problem here, too, with similar battles like the one you are describing between Toronto and Michigan.

Bye again.