Whitewater Lake flooding solution sparks debate
Municipalities disagree on how excess water should be diverted
Farmers in southwestern Manitoba say they are tired of being flooded out by Whitewater Lake, but there is no agreement on how to bring the lake back to normal levels.
Water levels on Whitewater Lake hit their highest in June 2011, flooding numerous farmers' fields in the Rural Municipality of Morton.
Pete Penner says he lost hundreds of acres of land as a result of the flooding on his farm northwest of Boissevain, Man.
"Half of my land's under water. My pasture, I lost all of my pasture," he told CBC News.
"I don't have an acre of pasture left, and I've got three-quarters of grain land under water."
Penner said he lost $300,000 in income last year, and he has recovered only $24,000 through flood compensation.
As well, Penner said he had to buy more land in order to move his cattle to pasture.
"You can't get anybody to do a darn thing about it. It is really, really, really frustrating," he said.
Penner and other farmers in the Rural Municipality of Morton say they want an outlet built in order to divert the excess water into Medora Creek, which runs into the Souris River.
But six municipalities downstream are opposing the outlet proposal because they don't want to get flooded.
"It would flood our farmers. They'd be transferring the problem from Whitewater Lake to us," said Reeve Duncan Stewart of the Rural Municipality of Brenda.
The Manitoba government says an outlet would cost too much — to the tune of $5 million — so officials are looking at storing the water further upstream or negotiating a land buy-out.