By John M. SchmidtPublished August 06, 2018 09:51:50The drought in Western Canada has left millions of people without water, while farmers across the province are struggling to find enough water to meet their growing demands.
In the western half of the province, there are fewer than 100 hydropower generating stations that can supply about half the province’s needs, according to the Ministry of the Environment.
On the west side, the drought has put a strain on agriculture.
Farmers have been forced to turn to underground wells, which have been drilled to fill gaps in their wells.
But those wells have proven to be a poor choice.
They have been too expensive to drill and have not been adequately protected from the cold.
A recent analysis by the Department of Agriculture found that while there is enough water in underground wells in western Saskatchewan, the total capacity is only about 1,600 MW, which is about 10 per cent of what it could supply.
In Manitoba, there have been a number of high-profile cases of groundwater contamination, including the case of a Manitoba Hydro employee who had to leave his job because of a contaminated aquifer in the province.
The water crisis in Manitoba was also exacerbated by the federal government’s decision to move away from coal-fired power generation in the winter of 2019-2020.
It meant the province was unable to make the necessary upgrades to its electrical grid to meet the needs of its residents.
“We were seeing huge increases in water consumption, a big increase in electricity bills,” said David MacKay, executive director of the Manitoba Farm Bureau.
MacKay says many people are still without electricity in Manitoba, and the drought is having a significant impact on the state economy.
The Manitoba government estimates it lost about $500 million in revenue from electricity production and consumption because of the drought, including more than $3 billion in sales taxes, $250 million in business taxes and about $100 million in agricultural and manufacturing revenues.
As a result, MacKay said Manitoba will be forced to reduce its population growth over the next decade.
“If we were going to be successful in the future, we need to diversify our economy,” he said.
Mackay says Manitoba’s population is forecast to grow by nearly 100,000 people by 2045, and more than 90 per cent are expected to live in rural areas.
In 2017, Manitoba experienced a population decline of nearly 8 per cent, which was the worst in the country.
MacKay says Manitoba has the highest number of children in the entire country, and says the number of people under 5 years old in the state is forecasted to rise by 10 per year from 2019 to 2046.
The provincial government estimates that the current drought is expected to cost Manitoba between $25 billion and $50 billion.
The federal government has already allocated $5.2 billion to help Manitoba cope with the drought.
MacKees father, John MacKay of Fort Saskatchewan, was one of the first people to be relocated out of the city.
He says the loss of the power has made it difficult to find work in the city and even more so for his family.
“My daughter-in-law has gone to work in a hotel in Winnipeg.
We have no other income and no other way to get by.
The city is hurting,” he told The Canadian Press.
In 2018, the federal Liberals allocated $7.7 billion to Manitoba to help it deal with the crisis.
The money was earmarked for infrastructure, infrastructure rehabilitation and water infrastructure projects.
In its 2016 budget, the Liberals also allocated $500,000 for the Manitoba Water and Sewerage Authority to provide water to remote communities.
Mac Kay says the federal NDP and Liberal governments have promised more money for infrastructure projects in Manitoba.
“I think we should be focusing on the issues that matter to Manitoba, like water and the water management, rather than focusing on our own people, and our own economy,” MacKay added.