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Devils Lake Water Diversion Project Timeline

  • November 2003 - The Government of Manitoba indicates it is considering legal action over North Dakota's proposed Devils Lake water diversion project
  • March 29, 2004 - The Manitoba government announces it is launching a legal challenge in the form of an appeal against North Dakota's Devils Lake water diversion project
  • April 7, 2004 - Canada formally makes a request to US State Department asking the US support an independent review of the Devils Lake project by International Joint Commission (IJC) and that construction cease until the parties are able to review recommendations
  • August 2004 - A North Dakota judge rejects Manitoba's legal challenge to appeal a permit issued by North Dakota's Department of Health that will allow construction of the water outlet to drain water from Devils Lake into the Red River system. Manitoba also files a 60-day notice of intent to launch another type of legal action under the federal U.S. Clean Water Act.
  • May 2005 - Mayors in Canada and the US publicly voice support for Manitoba's efforts to have the Devils Lake project referred to the International Joint Commission (IJC) for review under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909.
  • June 14, 2005 - Canada's House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development adopts an all-party resolution calling for Canada to act decisively to stop the US water diversion from imperiling Canadian ecosystems and exhaust -all diplomatic and/or legal options- top stop the Devils Lake diversion until is has been reviewed by the IJC
  • August 5, 2005 - The Government of Manitoba and the Governor of North Dakota reach an 'agreement' to allow North Dakota to proceed with its plan to divert water from Devils Lake into the Sheyenne River and into the Red River, which also includes co-operation on a downstream monitoring program and a commitment to build a more sophisticated filtration system for the outlet
  • August 15, 2005 - North Dakota begins operating the Devils Lake outlet but is forced to shut it down 10 days later because sulphate levels exceed the allowable threshold
  • November 15, 2005 - Release of joint study agreed to by North Dakota to allay Canadian concerns regarding invasive species and foreign biota flowing from Devils Lake north to Lake Winnipeg. None of the 12 invasive species Manitoba identified as being of concern were found in Devils Lake, but other biota of potential concern do exist in Devils Lake (that have not been previously found in Lake Winnipeg) - four types of blue-green algae capable of producing toxins and three fish parasites with the capability to impact fish were found
  • May 1, 2006 - North Dakota is forced to delay operation of Devils Lake outlet for 2006 because of high sulfate levels
  • June 27, 2006 - North Dakota proposes changes during public hearings that would lower health restrictions and allow for elevated sulfate levels in water flowing from Devils Lake
  • August 2006 - North Dakota request for Devils Lake outlet modified operating permit granted. The change allows for up to 450 milligrams per litre (mg/l) of sulphate to be discharged to Sheyenne River; expands outlet operation time period each year. The outlet, however, operated in 2006 because sulphate levels in the adjacent Sheyenne River above state guidelines.
  • September 14, 2006 - The Government of Manitoba joins several North Dakota and federal US organizations to appeal the decision by North Dakota Department of Health to modify the operating permit for Devils Lake outlet
  • March 2, 2007 - Argument in North Dakota District Court regarding legal challenge by Manitoba and others re North Dakota Department of Health decision to modify operating permit of Devils Lake outlet
  • April 2007 - North Dakota District Court rejects Manitoba's legal challenge of Health Department's decision to modify Devils Lake outlet operating permit.
  • June 11, 2007 - North Dakota opens gates at Devils Lake outlet for first time in 2007.
  • June 12, 2007 - Friends of the Earth Canada write open letter to Prime Minister Harper, President George Bush, Manitoba Premier Gary Doer, North Dakota Governor John Hoeven and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, calling the leaders to account for their commitments to make the first IJC year of outlet testing results public, and to report on installation of the advanced filter or disinfection system agreed to in 2005.
  • June 13, 2007 - Manitoba government announces it is taking its appeal of ND Health Department's weakening of environmental standards for operation of the outlet to North Dakota Supreme Court.
  • June 14, 2007 - Winnipeg North MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis spearheads emergency debate in Canada's House of Commons that results in unanimous support for motion to "call on the government to continue to employ every means possible to have the flow of water from Devils Lake into the Canadian water system stopped immediately."
  • Late June 2007 - Fish are discovered below a gravel filter on the outlet, prompting Manitoba government, People to Save the Sheyenne, Peterson Coulee Outlet Association and United States National Wildlife Federation to serve formal notice of their intention to sue North Dakota over the potential breach.
  • July 3, 2007 - Workers investigating discovery of fish on wrong side of Devils Lake water diversion find a crack in pipe that connects outlet to a filtration screen.
  • February 21, 2008 - The North Dakota Supreme Court rules in favour of Manitoba government and several environmental groups, overturning key changes made in 2006 by the state that weakened environmental standards in operating permit for Devils Lake outlet. The court rules changes were unlawful and sends permit back to North Dakota Department of Health to be reversed.
  • April 21, 2008 - North Dakota begins operation of Devils Lake outlet for first time in 2008, despite February 2008 Supreme Court ruling prohibiting operation before May 1. Lawyers for Province of Manitoba and its US allies ask ND to halt operation and respect earlier court ruling.
  • April 24, 2008 - North Dakota responds to Manitoba's request to abide by Supreme Court ruling, indicating that it will continue operation.
  • April 25, 2008 - The Province of Manitoba, People to Save the Sheyenne River, Peterson Coulee Outlet Association and National Wildlife Federation file an application before North Dakota District Court asking the court to find North Dakota State Water Commission in contempt for ignoring earlier North Dakota Supreme Court ruling that restricted the time frame for operation of Devils Lake outlet.
  • June 12, 2008 - Friends of the Earth Canada and Manitoba Chambers of Commerce petition the Auditor General of Canada to ensure public disclosure by Canadian politicians and officials of communication and action related to August 2005 Canada-US agreement to protect Canadian waters against the deleterious impacts associated with Devils Lake Outlet.
  • July 1, 2008 - North Dakota regulators renew permit to continue operating the Devils Lake outlet. The permit is almost identical to document it replaced, which was scheduled to expire midnight June 30, 2008.

Red River Valley Water Supply Project Timeline

  • 2000 - North Dakota passes the Dakota Water Resources Act; Sections 5 and 8 of the DWRA authorize the Red River Valley Water Supply Project, the purpose of which is -to identify reliable sources of water of sufficient quantity and quality to supply homes, businesses, industries, wildlife, and recreation in the Red River Valley within North Dakota through at least the next five decades-.
  • Fall 2005 - US Bureau of Reclamation releases the Draft Report on Red River Valley Needs and Options (no longer available); public comments are invited until October 2005.
  • November 2005 - US Bureau of Reclamation releases the Final Report on Red River Valley Needs and Options
2006 2007

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