Fishing Lake, Saskatchewan is a large freshwater lake with eight resort communities and the Fishing Lake First Nation. In 2007 water levels rose to record highs and flooded over 300 homes (MCS 2012). Temporary flood control berms were created along certain sections of the lake in after the floods that hit the area. These berms were constructed later that year, and have been permitted for renewal, as risks to flooding have not ceased. An act to permanently instate the berms was created and planning began. The berms would need to be upgraded to provide permanent protection (KGS 2009; SWA n.d.). These plans most recently have included the construction of an overflow channel that would drain the lake to safe levels before winter freezing which was finished early in 2011 (Waggoner 2011).
The Saskatchewan Watershed Authority hired a consulting company to prepare the environmental impact assessment and after review it was determined that a Screening Type of assessment was required. The current status of the project is active as it completes ongoing follow-up monitoring (Waggoner 2009; CEAA 2011).
The impacted area considered in the scope of the project had to include consultation and cooperative planning between Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as there were areas at risk for flooding due to the drainage of the lake. This process was reported as being very successful reaching a joint-agreement for the construction and operation of the channel (Waggoner 2009).
This case represents a scenario that is common to large projects undergoing an environmental impact study. Although the construction of the berm and channel were very quick and efficient from the view of the communities, the whole process can be long and arduous and unsettling for many community members (Waggoner 2011; Starphoenix 2008). For some it can be hard to understand that these studies may take place over a few years, while they try to carry out their lives with the additional stress of dealing with flooding and risk of flooding each year. People in the community grow restless and tiresome as their lives lay in limbo waiting for the study to be complete, a plan and decision made and finally to see a project through to completion. Some community members didn’t like the idea of the berm for the decreased aesthetic value, to their once picturesque Saskatchewan lake, but have come to accept the berm as a permanent fixture, as in the end they really have no alternative if they want to keep their homes safe from rising water levels (Starphoenix 2008). Some community members in the Fishing Lake First Nation also opposed the berms, for other reasons. Some views were that the permanent berm was not natural and that they would rather let nature run its course and shape the land and water features (Starphoenix 2008).
Of course no community can be thought of as homogenous in their opinions, views and concerns which exemplifies the difficulty of dealing with large scale issues that affect many communities. Fishing Lake is shared by several communities each with their respective investments and all need to work together for a plan that will benefit everyone. With projects like this there are many stakeholders and therefore time is required to hear each concern and develop a plan that can mitigate the negative effects and benefit each community. Throughout this project, numerous ways were used to educate the public and get their opinions for the public support of the proje
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). 2011. Flood control berm upgrading – Fishing Lake Saskatchewan. Accessed on April 17, 2012 from: http://www.ceaa.gc.ca/050/details-eng.cfm?evaluation=54082&nav=5
KGS Group. 2009. Project Proposal: Flood control berm upgrading, Fishing Lake, Saskatchewan. Accessed on April 17, 2012 from: http://www.swa.ca/WhatsNew/LongTermFloodProtectionFishingLake.asp
McDougall Computer Services (MCS). 2012. About Fishing Lake. Accessed on April 17, 2012 from: http://www.quill-lakes.com/fishinglake/about-fishinglake.html
Saskatchewan Watershed Authority (SWA). n.d. Long term flood protection at Fishing Lake. Accessed on April 17, 2012 from: http://www.swa.ca/WhatsNew/LongTermFloodProtectionFishingLake.asp
Starphoenix. 2008. After the flood. Accessed on April 17, 2012 from: http://www.canada.com/saskatoonstarphoenix/story.html?id=3f2fe120-592f-44d8-974f-2e0b3f20712b
Waggoner, J. 2009. Long term flood protection at Fishing Lake. Government of Saskatchewan. Accessed on April 17, 2012 from: http://www.gov.sk.ca/news?newsId=b554b4cb-2ca2-4d14-a688-8309f8964850
Waggoner, J. 2011. Channel improvements completed under the Fishing Lake flood protection plan. Government of Saskatchewan. Accessed on April 17, 2012 from: http://www.gov.sk.ca/news?newsId=e9d67d06-b9e8-452b-824b-4781d22d666c