Water control structures at both Crooked and Round Lake will be inoperable during the 2012 season until Agreements are ratified by government and arrangements are formed with First Nations.
According to Warren Thomson, manager of the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority in Yorkton, the Crooked Lake Dam has been decommissioned as a result of the Flood Claim Settlement Agreement with Sakimay and Cowessess First Nations. The Round Lake Dam is inoperable due to substantial damages sustained last year.
“Right now it’s not being used,” Thomson said of the water control structure at Crooked Lake. “Until the Agreement has been ratified, and there is a transfer of funds to the First Nations, we’re not in a legal position to operate.”
On Jan. 30, 2012, Sakimay First Nation voted to accept the $21-million Flood Claim Settlement Agreement in consideration of the wrongful construction of the Crooked Lake Dam and the illegal flooding of 470 acres of land in the 1940s.
The ratification vote for the Cowessess First Nation Flood Claim Settlement Agreement and related documents was also passed on March 10, compensating the band approximately $12 million for the damages sustained to 19 acres of land.
While both First Nations have ratified the Agreement, the provincial and federal governments must ratify the documents as well.
Thomson said the province is nearing ratification and is waiting for an order of council before final authorization is sealed. Following provincial ratification, the agreement will be sent to Ottawa for federal approval.
“I wouldn’t anticipate that we would be in such position (to operate the Crooked Lake Dam) until late summer at the earliest,” said Thomson.
A spokesperson from Saskatchewan Watershed Authority said discussion between the Authority and First Nations determined all parties would first concentrate on the ratification, and later address future dam-use arrangements.
The water control structure at Round Lake was not part of any agreement, but will also remain inoperable due to its poor condition.
“All of the planking from the catwalk has been removed,” said Thomson. “In the spring of 2011, for both Crooked and Round Lake, some of the planking was washed away by the flood waters and ice.
“Public were trying to cross both of those structures with minimum amounts of planking because at that point there was (sic) no agreements in place. The decision was made by Agri-Environment Services Branch to remove the remainder of the planking. Round Lake is likely to continue in that fashion, it’s just inoperable and there are no intentions to operate it.”
Thomson remained optimistic that following final ratification, the water control structure at Crooked Lake will have planking replaced on the deck to allow workers to operate the stop-log manual operation in the future.