A study commissioned by the province and released this past January identified three main possible solutions to flooded farmland down stream from the dam.
“One was the addition of the spillway gates, buying out lower-laying agricultural lands that are subject to frequent flooding and they also looked at constructing linear dikes down the river,” MIT’s Doug McMahon said.
Spillway gates and downriver dikes were non-starters. The gates wouldn’t have the desired effect without changes to the structure’s operating guidelines and the dikes were deemed too expensive, leaving the buyout option the best one on the table.
“The downstream buyout was the most cost efficient and would also provide more operational flexibility for the facility,” McMahon said.
Cliff Trinder agrees it’s probably the best option available.
“I do believe that the province needs to own the floodplain from Shellmouth Dam to St. Lazare,” Trinder said. “This would allow the operator to use the Shellmouth outflows to capacity to keep the dam in control and provide some flood protection.”
Cochrane isn’t in favour of it but believes the province will most likely buy out the low-lying land as it comes with the smallest price tag. But he says it isn’t a solution he likes.
“Why are we allowing Saskatchewan to drain all of the land and make more farmland and then we are willing to buy out a bunch of farmers and turn a whole bunch of our land into wasteland just to dump water in?” Cochrane asked.