November 15, 2005

Lake in US-Canada dispute has no invasive species

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Despite a study
that found no invasive fish or plants in North Dakota's Devils
Lake, from which water is being drained to end up in Canada,
the Canadian province of Manitoba said on Tuesday it still
wants the water filtered more.

The study did find four types of toxin-causing algae in
Devils Lake and three parasites that are not found in Canadian
waters and could have an impact on Manitoba's Lake Winnipeg,
the world's 10th largest freshwater lake and home to a C$25
million commercial fishery.

Canadian officials tried unsuccessfully to stop North
Dakota from pumping water from land-locked Devils Lake, which
has swallowed up more than 90,000 acres of land as it tripled
in size in 12 years of wet weather.

Water from the lake, which is about 90 miles west of Grand
Forks, North Dakota, has been diverted through a canal into the
Sheyenne River, which drains into the Red River, which then
carries it north to Lake Winnipeg, eventually reaching Hudson

U.S. officials have long maintained the water is safe but
the issue has been diplomatic sore point, with Canada fearing
environmental damage. Pumping began in August using a temporary
gravel filter to trap any escaping organisms.

Manitoba Water Stewardship Minister Steve Ashton said it
was good that no invasive species such as zebra mussels have
been found, but he added the study still showed a more advanced
filter barrier is needed.

Canada and the United States have agreed that a more
advanced filtering system will be built based on studies of the
lake water.