Landowners in the Assiniboine Valley affected by artificial flooding caused by operation of the Shellmouth Dam will be entitled to compensation under legislation and regulations announced Feb. 25 by Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick.
“This legislation will provide fair compensation to landowners in the Assiniboine Valley if they are affected by artificial flooding caused by operation of the Shellmouth Dam,” Melnick said. “This will provide improved protection beyond what crop insurance provides for agricultural producers in the valley.”
Compensation would cover damages for artificial flooding that may occur due to extreme weather events while the levels on the reservoir are high and when water levels exceed the capacity of the downstream Assiniboine River banks, Melnick said. Artificial flood damage occurs if regulated flows are above natural levels as if the reservoir did not exist.
The previous compensation programs operated on an as-needed, year-by-year basis. The new legislation would require the province to pay compensation for crop and other business losses and property damages and sets out the process to assess and determine compensable losses.
The legislation, which came into effect Feb. 28, would also allow the province to designate other water-control structures for compensation whenever landowners experience artificial flooding. The Red River Floodway Act provides artificial flooding compensation for residents living south of the floodway inlet during major spring flood events.
Additionally, the Manitoba and Saskatchewan governments’ formal agreement on the Fishing Lake outlet dated Feb. 19 includes compensation payable by the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority to downstream landowners in the unlikely event that loss or damage to property is directly caused by releases from the Fishing Lake outlet.
The agreement also prevents Fishing Lake outflows from raising river levels downstream of the Shellmouth Dam above 1,400 cubic feet per second under certain conditions to improve drainage of valley farmland. These improvements are responsive to concerns raised by producers in the Shellmouth Reservoir area, Melnick said.