The Red River Basin Commission plans to reactivate the Lower Pembina River Flooding Task Team.
That Task Force Team, made up of representatives from North Dakota and Manitoba, was originally activated in 2008 in an effort to find science-based solutions to mitigate flooding in the lower Pembina River basin. It came up with some recommendations which it released in 2012, but nothing was ever acted up by any level of government in Canada or the U.S.
"I think the task force will need to look back and review that report, but I also think it's a new day ... so you almost have to start at the beginning and come up with conclusions that you can move forward with on both sides," said Basin Commission Manitoba Director Steve Strang.
The Border Road issue in the Municipality of Rhineland has been a contentious issue for communities on both sides of the Manitoba/North Dakota border for several decades when there is major flooding on the Pembina River.
Farmers in North Dakota claim the road is really a dike that interferes with the natural flow of flood water from the Pembina River into Manitoba and ultimately keeps that water on the American side of the border for a longer period of time. As a result, farmers and municipal officials claim the road is responsible for damage to soil, crops, roads and other infrastructure.
Up until now, both North Dakota and Manitoba have used the courts to deal with the problem with no resolution forthcoming. That's why Strang feels reactivating the Pembina River task force could mark a change in direction in how this issue gets resolved.
He said there appears to be a real willingness by communities on both sides of the border to find a solution to this issue and others.
"I have to commend our colleagues on both sides because the Red River Basin Commission has always been the organization that brings people together for discussion. We believe this is one of the items that needs to be put back on the table to find a common sense solution on how to resolve the problem."
Work is underway to select the members who will make up the task force and it's expected the organization will begin its work shortly within a few months.