Letter to the Editor
This open letter of Complaint concerns all Albertans who are recreational vehicle /property owners, recreationists, anglers, hunters and boaters.
The SMRID, St Mary’s Irrigation District has begun closures of unregulated reservoir(s) road access and boat launches to the public in the mistaken belief that this will reduce the potential for introducing invasive species into our waterways, canals and reservoirs.
Invasive species are introduced into water bodies by a number of ways, some of which include conveyance in boat bilge water, engine jacket water, ballast water and by water current to name a few.
I would like to support the SMRID and all irrigation districts with a workable plan to suppress the introduction of all invasive species. However, there are too many faults within the SMRID plan to support random reservoir closures. The current SMRID plan is not discretionary but discriminatory.
Currently there are no similar closures in the watershed supplying the SMRID. The water supply comes from the Waterton, Belly and St Mary’s rivers. Two of three water sources are based in Montana which is currently the hot topic relating to the introduction of invasive species.
Invasive species have been around since ballast water from ocean going ships were dumped into the Great Lakes but only to be rediscovered in 1988. The recent findings in Montana has finally spurred government to start tackling this issue, not that both government and irrigation districts have had all these years to educate the public.
Albertans are going to have to be educated to a zero tolerance for invasive species and produce definitive legislation to support this plan to be successful. Currently the Alberta government has a Clean, Drain and Dry policy in place. If you look at this video / program, it does not cover watercraft with inboard engine, jet skis, wake boats or the importation of used boats as examples.
The SMRID nor the government of Alberta cannot develop a viable invasive species program without an all-inclusive plan; supported by the public and passed into law. In closing, the SMRID is about to spurn the support of a very large segment Albertans, thus creating another front instead of uniting the fight against the introduction of invasive species.