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Mud Lake residents wary about enhanced river monitoring

Mud Lake resident Melissa Best said the enhanced monitoring of the Churchill River doesn’t help them feel safer at all.
Mud Lake resident Melissa Best said the enhanced monitoring of the Churchill River doesn’t help them feel safer at all. - Evan Careen

The provincial government announced enhanced monitoring of the Churchill River last week, as a response to the flooding in Mud Lake last May.

The Department of Environment is going to be monitoring the river flow and ice cover via a series of monitoring stations and satellite imagery. They met with Mud Lake residents to go over the plan and Melissa Best, head of the Mud Lake improvement committee, said it didn’t help their fears at all.

“It’s an amazing thing but at the same time we don’t need to know when another flood is coming, we need to know why we were flooded and what they are going to do to prevent it,” Best said. “We asked whether we were now in a flood zone and they said no.  I said then why have this system?”

Best said one resident asked whether the system was supposed to have been in place before the Muskrat Falls project started and were told they didn’t want to talk about the past.

They say they won’t talk about the past but it’s bringing us to the present. The past is what’s making them do this now.”

The Labradorian posed that same question to the Department of Environment, why the system was not in place beforehand and received a similar reply, that they wanted to speak to the future, not the past.

Best said the general feeling about the enhanced monitoring among Mud Lake residents is that it’s a joke.

“It’s an utter joke to tell us they’re going to have an enhanced monitoring system for flooding,” she said. “We weren’t aware this was in the works, it should have been implemented prior to the start. We’re not in a flood zone according to government but they’re going to give us a monitoring system?”

She said don’t want to know when they’re going to flood, they just don’t want to be flooded.

“We left there more afraid than when we went in. We weren’t afraid, none of us, and that was one of the comments that was made as soon as we left. Now they’re telling us we will be flooded again but this way we’ll let you know when.”

The large amount of snow that has fallen this winter is a big concern for residents of Mud Lake too. Best said if there’s a rapid melt and the reservoir at Muskrat Falls fills, the water will have to go somewhere and as people living downstream from the project they are worried.

“The snow is terrifying and you can ask anyone in Mud Lake. We don’t know what April and May will bring to us. We still have March and we’re getting snow like we wouldn’t believe.”

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